Bill, Melinda Gates Top Philanthropist List in Barron’s Ranking

Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda topped a Barron’s list of the world’s 25 best philanthropists, surpassing last year’s selections Pam and Pierre Omidyar.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation rose to No. 1 after the billionaire couple joined forces with Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., to create and promote the Gates-Buffett pledge in which people donate 50 percent or more of their net worth to charity, the weekly newspaper said in its Dec. 6 edition. Gates’ ranked 7th in 2009 because their investments in medical research could take more than a decade to see results, Barron’s said.

Barron’s compiled the list with the consulting firm Global Philanthropy Group, focusing on the “ripple” effect of the gift rather than the amount of money, according to Barron’s.

Omidyar, founder of EBay Inc., ranked second this year for investing in crucial projects including solar-powered light source developments that would provide power for those who live without electricity, Barron’s said.

Thomas Siebel of The Meth Project was third as his campaign to discourage teenage use of methamphetamine expanded geographically and started showing results, Barron’s said.

Jeff Skoll, founder of Capricorn Investment Group LLC and Participant Media, was fourth on the list for his efforts to solve the public school system and other social problems through documentary films, Barron’s said. Jamie and Chris Cooper-Hohn rounded out the top 5 for setting aside profits from their hedge funds to save the lives of children, Barron’s said.

Others on the list include former President Bill Clinton (8th); Warren Buffett’s eldest son Howard (20th); talk show host Oprah Winfrey (21st); and billionaire investor George Soros (25th).

The Gates-Buffett pledge may lead to as much as $239 billion in donations as 40 people worth a combined $254 billion have already committed, Barron’s reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mina Kawai in New York at minkawai@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sylvia Wier at swier@bloomberg.net.

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