From the Always A Dark Side If You Look Hard Enough file: Even with $29.5 billion in the vault, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation isn't overjoyed with its financial condition, the foundation's new CEO said today. "This has been a very hard year for foundations and nonprofits--and the near future doesn't look any easier," said Jeff Raikes in his first annual report for the Gateses. "We've heard from our colleagues at many foundations, and we're all digging deeper into our pockets and coming out with less money. Our endowments are down, so even if we draw a higher percentage than we did last year, we don't have as much to give away. And many nonprofits have fewer and fewer resources at precisely the moment when the need for their services is greatest."
The foundation reports a 20 percent reduction in its endowment portfolio value for last year, due to "general economic decline." Nonetheless, it took in $1.8 billion in contributions from Bill's billionaire bud Warren Buffett, along with $183 million in investment management services contributed by Gates hisownself. But spending will go up anyway: The foundation paid out approximately $2.8 billion cash in grants and direct charitable activities, and that should increase to approximately $3.5 billion this year. Says Raikes: "It's difficult for foundations to find fiscal balance when there are so many demands to be met." Still, the foundation will, for example, spend tens of millions to help fund the final phase of malaria vaccine clinical trials, he says. "We think it's worth it because we believe this malaria vaccine can save millions of lives." Hear hear to that.