Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $5,359,548,995
Expenses: $4,766,292,773
Assets: $39,566,720,264




Michael Larson


Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett

Latest Tax Filing:

2020 Form 990

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For more information, see the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Nonprofit)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust is a private foundation related to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation Trust holds the endowment for the Gates Foundation, funds it, and makes investment decisions for the foundation’s endowment. It was created after left-progressive billionaire and friend of Bill Gates Warren Buffett pledged over $30 billion in stock in his company Berkshire Hathaway to the Gates Foundation; the Trust was established to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest while allowing Buffett to participate in Gates Foundation grantmaking. 1

History and Purpose

The Gates Foundation Trust was created in October 2006, several months after billionaire investor (and friend of Gates Foundation benefactor Bill Gates2) Warren Buffett announced a plan to give the Gates Foundation $31 billion, the vast bulk of Buffett’s estate, in annual gifts spread out over a decade or more. As part of the gift, Buffett became one of three trustees of the Gates Foundation and participates actively in the foundation’s grantmaking. 3

Because the gift would consist mostly of annual transfers of stock in Buffett’s corporation, Berkshire Hathaway, the Gates Foundation was concerned that Buffett would be accused of using the Gates Foundation endowment to continue to control the company at second hand. The solution was to split the Gates Foundation into two entities, a grantmaking entity and the Gates Foundation Trust, an investment management entity that funds the foundation and manages the foundation’s endowment assets. Bill and Melinda Gates, but not Buffett, are trustees of the Foundation Trust, and the foundation’s endowment is managed by a team of outside investment managers. 4

Investment Policy and Portfolio

The Gates Foundation Trust’s investment policy reflects Bill Gates’ personal interests and values and does not invest solely on the basis of maximum return. The Gates Foundation Trust states that there are certain companies in which it will not invest because their “profit model is centrally tied to corporate activity that [the Gateses] find egregious.” For this reason, the Gates Foundation Trust does not invest in tobacco- or Sudan-related stocks or equities. 5

At the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2020, the Gates Foundation Trust had an equity portfolio value of $31.35 billion, with 16 total equity holdings. Its top five holdings were Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway; Waste Management, Inc.; Caterpillar, Inc.; Canadian National Railway Co.; and Walmart, Inc. 6


The current manager of the Gates Foundation Trust is Michael Larson, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration who since 1994 has been the head of Gates’s investment company, Cascade Investments. 7 That firm manages both the Gates Foundation Trust and Gates’s personal assets, together estimated to be worth $80 billion as of a 2014 report. 8


  1. “Foundation Trust.” Accessed July 21, 2020.
  2. Huddleston , Tom. “Bill Gates: ‘I Didn’t Even Want to Meet Warren Buffett’ -but Their First Dinner Conversation Changed Everything,” November 8, 2019.
  3. “Warren Buffett to Give Bulk of Fortune to Gates Foundation.” Philanthropy News Digest. June 27, 2006. Accessed July 21, 2020.
  4. “Foundation Trust.” Accessed July 21, 2020.
  5. “Investment Policy.” Accessed July 21, 2020.
  6. “Top 5 Holdings of Bill Gates’ Foundation Trust.” Yahoo Finance. March 2, 2020.
  7. Andy Serwer. “Still a great job: Making sure Bill Gates stays rich.” Fortune. May 3, 2004. Accessed July 21, 2020.
  8. “Who manages Bill Gates’ $82 bn? Meet Michael Larson.” Business Standard. Sept. 23, 2014. Accessed July 21, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 1995

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form PF $5,359,548,995 $4,766,292,773 $39,566,720,264 $52,186,329 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $6,982,402,574 $4,523,547,821 $43,559,551,856 $119,519,390 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $4,926,873,517 $4,253,158,285 $40,563,753,476 $91,099,706 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $3,749,946,427 $4,010,227,516 $36,444,210,791 $72,874,441 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $3,188,146,946 $4,040,264,980 $33,821,487,443 $42,491,096 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust

    PO BOX 23350
    SEATTLE, WA 98102-0650