June 9, 2009 in City

Gates Foundation hurt by downturn

Remains world’s richest charity, but plans to slow growth

SEATTLE — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may be the world’s richest charitable foundation, but that hardly shields it from the economic downturn.

Between January and April, the foundation saw its assets drop from $39 billion to $27.5 billion. The organization’s new chief executive says his mission includes figuring out a way to keep the money flowing to needy people around the world without spending down the endowment in a hurry.

The federal government requires charitable foundations to pay out 5 percent of their assets each year. Because assets are falling, many foundations are cutting their donations to charitable causes in 2009.

The Seattle-based Gates Foundation says it will not be cutting its distributions in 2009 but will slow its growth.

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