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Mechanism of Operation

The 15 principles below reflect the Gates family''s beliefs about the role of philanthropy and the impact they want this foundation to have. The principles guide what we do, why we do it, and how we do it.

While many of them are fundamental to the way we operate, we will remain open to amending them as we grow and learn more about our work.

Guiding Principle #1: This is a family foundation driven by the interests and passions of the Gates family.
Guiding Principle #2: Philanthropy plays an important but limited role.
Guiding Principle #3: Science and technology have great potential to improve lives around the world.
Guiding Principle #4: We are funders and shapers—we rely on others to act and implement.
Guiding Principle #5: Our focus is clear—and limited—and prioritizes some of the most neglected issues.
Guiding Principle #6: We identify a specific point of intervention and apply our efforts against a theory of change.
Guiding Principle #7: We take risks, make big bets, and move with urgency. We are in it for the long haul.
Guiding Principle #8: We advocate—vigorously but responsibly—in our areas of focus.
Guiding Principle #9: We must be humble and mindful in our actions and words. We seek and heed the counsel of outside voices.
Guiding Principle #10: We treat our grantees as valued partners, and we treat the ultimate beneficiaries of our work with respect.
Guiding Principle #11: Delivering results with the resources we have been given is of the utmost importance—and we seek and share information about those results.
Guiding Principle #12: We demand ethical behavior of ourselves.
Guiding Principle #13: We treat each other as valued colleagues.
Guiding Principle #14: Meeting our mission—to increase opportunity and equity for those most in need—requires great stewardship of the money we have available.
Guiding Principle #15: We leave room for growth and change.

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