Warren Buffett’s Best Investment
Our 2017 annual letter is addressed to our dear friend Warren Buffett, who in 2006 donated the bulk of his fortune to our foundation to fight disease and reduce inequity. A few months ago, Warren asked us to reflect on what impact his gift has had on the world.
What follows is our answer to him.
It’s a story about the stunning gains the poorest people in the world have made over the last 25 years. This incredible progress has been made possible not only by the generosity of Warren and other philanthropists, the charitable giving of individuals across the world, and the efforts of the poor on their own behalf—but also by the huge contributions made by donor nations, which account for the vast majority of global health and development funding.
Our letter is being released amid dramatic political transitions in these countries, including new leadership in the United States and the United Kingdom. We hope this story will remind everyone why foreign aid should remain a priority—because by lifting up the poorest, we express the highest values of our nations.
One of the greatest of those values is the belief that the best investment any of us can ever make is in the lives of others. As we explain to Warren in our letter, the returns are tremendous.
Your gift a decade ago left us speechless. It was the biggest single gift anyone ever gave anybody for anything, and we knew we owed you a fantastic return on your investment.
In this letter, we’ll share some highlights with you, and we’ll focus on global health—because that was the starting point of our philanthropy, and it’s the majority of what we do.
We don’t have sales and profits to show you. But there are numbers we watch closely to guide our work and measure our progress.
Let’s start with the most important one.