America's Top Philanthropists Discuss Global Problems

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that in a quiet meeting closed to the news media and the public, Bill Gates, David Rockefeller Sr., Oprah Winfrey, and other leading philanthropists met in New York on May 5th to discuss ways to promote charitable giving and make their philanthropy more effective in fighting problems at home and abroad.

Among the high-profile participants were Ted Turner, Warren E. Buffett, George Soros, Peter G. Peterson, Eli Broad, and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The unusual event was an unprecedented gathering of the world’s wealthiest — and most generous — people. Together, the philanthropists in the room have committed a total of more than $72.5-billion to charitable causes since 1996, according to Chronicle of Philanthropy tallies.

While the meeting and its hush-hush nature has triggered intense speculation by the news media about what was discussed, Patricia Q. Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said it was simply a gathering of people who have a common passion for helping others.

“It was a wide-ranging conversation,” she said, “but they each shared what motivates their giving, their areas of focus of their work, the lessons learned, and thoughts on how we might increase giving.”

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