June 26, 2006 -- As Warren Buffett signs away most of his fortune, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation finds its resources soaring to $60 billion, nearly doubling its opportunities to help the common good.
But what can the foundation do with that much cash? For starters, treat each of the 40 million people worldwide infected with HIV/AIDS. They can also cut world hunger in half and fund vaccinations that could save 6 million kids a year.
"When you look at the amount of resources that are now going to be in the Gates Foundation, we could be looking at literally tens of millions of lives saved over the next decade," said Dr. Nils Daulaire of the Global Health Council.
These hopeful prospects are fallout of billionaire Warren Buffett's announcement that he will donate 85 percent of his fortune (about $37 billion) to the Gates Foundation, a charity-based organization led by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.
Dreaming of AIDS Vaccine
The Gates Foundation may soon be spending $3 billion a year, dwarfing efforts led by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Red Cross.
Some of that money may push their dream of providing a first-class education for every American child.
"Can that be done in our lifetime? I'll be optimistic and say, 'Absolutely,'" Bill Gates said today at a press conference in New York.
It could also fuel an end to AIDS.
"I think we dream in our lifetime about an AIDS Vaccine," Melinda Gates, Bill's wife, said.
Both of these are goals that Buffett seems to be subscribing to almost without a question. He'll be a trustee in the foundation, but indicated today that he will continue to focus on what he does best: Investing his money for profit.
"I've got some people where I say, 'You can give it away better than I can,' so I'm turning it over to you and you can do a better job of giving it away than I would," Buffett said.
But the impact of today's announcement may go well beyond all the money that Gates and Buffett are giving away.
A spokeswoman for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stacy Palmer, said this type of partnership serve as a call to action for other potential donors.
"When they see people like Buffett and Gates, that might make them change their attitude and be more giving," Palmer said.