The COVID-19 pandemic will have a “profound” impact on philanthropy through forging more active collaboration and ensuring more equitable responses, Bill Gates said in an interview with Badr Jafar, founding patron of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at Cambridge Judge Business School.

The co-founder of the Gates Foundation said the scale and urgency of the pandemic has prompted philanthropists to engage in more active collaboration, not only with businesses and government but also with each other.

As an example, he cited the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator involving the Gates Foundation, Mastercard, Wellcome and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Priscilla Chan and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Gates said that philanthropists are “uniquely positioned to ensure an equitable response to a challenge, in Covid’s case to ensure that diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines reach the billions of people who need them, at an affordable cost.

“Philanthropy is also very good at moving quickly, finding new innovations, trying out things that governments will be very slow to do or might not see, and that will give us a lot of really great tools to deal with the Covid crisis.”

Regarding emerging markets, Gates said that philanthropists “are very keen to increase opportunity for young people in areas like education, health and entrepreneurship. A lot of these really innovative philanthropists are first- or second-generation wealth builders, so they are able to take the latest approaches and leapfrog and improve on practices and really set examples that governments and other philanthropists can benefit from.”

He said there is a “lot of potential” in online giving, because digital platforms have “made it easier for everyone, not just the wealthy, to give to worthy causes” – and that it is “important to think about how this retail giving complements long-term philanthropy as it will continue to grow.”

The Centre for Strategic Philanthropy was launched in June 2020, with a focus on the impact of strategic philanthropy both within and from emerging global growth markets. Founding patron Badr Jafar is CEO of Crescent Enterprises and is a member of the Advisory Board of Cambridge Judge Business School.

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