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November 12, 2015

Opinion: Gates Giving Increasingly Includes Corporations

A Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation critic raises questions the philanthropy's relationships with major multinational corporations, which often include direct donations to the companies, in an essay for left-wing journal Jacobin.

Deals like the foundation's $11 million grant to MasterCard to develop financial infrastructure in Kenya largely serve the recipient firms' business agendas and bottom lines, writes Linsey McGoey, a sociologist at the University of Essex in England and the author of No Such Thing as a Free Gift, a book about the $42.9 billion philanthropy.

The foundation has also given millions of dollars to education publisher Scholastic, mobile network Vodafone, and several major media outlets. Other large philanthropies such as the Ford Foundation and Britain's Wellcome Trust have made grants directly to for-profit companies.

With corporations' own giving to charity in decline, Ms. McGoey writes, "corporate philanthropy today is about private, tax-exempt donors such as the Gates Foundation giving their charity to corporations [emphasis hers]."

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy opinion piece by Linsey McGoey on her research on the Gates Foundation and modern mega-philanthropy.