How we work

To bring about the kinds of changes that will help people live healthier and more productive lives, we seek to understand the world’s inequities. Then we consider whether we can make a meaningful difference with our influence and our investments, whether it is a grant or a contract.
All of our strategies—more than two dozen people across the foundation—have this process of identifying what we want to accomplish for people and where we can have the greatest impact. Once we commit to an area of need, we define our major goals and identify a clear path to achieving them.


The issues we engage in are wildly disparate, but they share the characteristics of being deeply rooted, dynamic, and complex. None will be solved easily and quickly, and none will be solved through our efforts alone.
We do all of our work in collaboration with grantees and other partners, who join with us in taking risks, pushing for new solutions, and harnessing the transformative power of science and technology. We strive to engage with our grantees and partners in a spirit of trust, candid communication, and transparency. Our collective efforts also depend on the support and resources of governments, the private sector, communities, and individuals.


In each of our divisions, we develop goals and strategies before allocating resources and making investments. We continually collect and share data on our progress, reflect on lessons learned, and make course corrections as needed. Essential to this process is ongoing dialogue with our grantees and partners—which is embedded throughout our strategy lifecycle.
At this stage of the foundation’s growth, our divisions and strategies are already in place. We reflect on and review each strategy annually, and make adjustments to our implementation plan toward achieving our goals.


Within each strategy, which has an allocation of resources, we collaborate with grantee and partner organizations to develop proposals that align with our strategic priorities and the organization’s focus and capabilities. An important part of this process is reaching agreement on what success will look like for the investment.
We use a standard four-phase process to develop all of our grants and contracts. The duration of each phase depends on the complexity of the project as well as the capacity and geographic location of the prospective partner.

Phase 1: Concept Development. Our program officers work to identify ideas that support our strategic priorities, in consultation with foundation colleagues, researchers, policymakers, and other partners in the field. This phase concludes with an internal decision that a concept is aligned to a strategy, and we should proceed with development work.

Phase 2: Pre-Proposal. We use a variety of ways to explore and refine concepts, with the help of organizations in the field. Regardless of the approach, we remain committed to understanding the perspective of others, in order to further shape the proposed body of work. This phase ends with the decision to solicit a grant or contract proposal.
-Direct solicitation. When we know that an organization is well-suited to perform the work, we directly solicit an early phase concept memo or proposal.
-Discussion. In some cases, we invite one or more organizations to discuss the concept with us and explore their interest and their capacity to undertake the work. If the organization has the expertise, capacity, and interest, we will invite them to submit a concept memo or proposal.
-Request for proposal (RFP): When we want to broaden our network or fund multiple organizations for a project, we may issue an RFP. Public RFPs are posted on our website; private RFPs are directed to specific organizations.

Phase 3: Investment Development We give applicant guidelines and templates for developing a proposal, a budget, and a results framework and tracker. A program officer reviews submitted materials with internal and, at times, external experts and works with the applicant to integrate recommended changes. We also complete our due diligence, confirm the applicant organization’s tax status, determine how to structure the transaction, and assess risk. Our legal and financial analysis teams may also participate during this phase.
Investment proposals are reviewed at various levels, with more levels of review for grants and contracts that are more complex. A foundation executive makes the final decision about whether to fund the proposed grant or contract. Before funded activities can commence, the foundation and the partner organization sign an agreement that includes intended results, targets, milestones or reporting deliverables, and a payment schedule.

Phase 4: Management and Close. During the life of an investment, the program officer and partner discuss how they will work together and keep in close communication to understand progress and challenges of ongoing work. By maintaining quality interactions and clear and consistent communication, they are able to share feedback early and often. Occasionally a program officer or foundation staff member will participate on advisory committees, and occasionally take a seat on the board of the organization.
At the end of the project, the partner will work with the program officer to submit a final report that summarizes the results achieved and lessons learned.


From the outset of the grantmaking process, we work with partners to define the overall results we hope to achieve and the data needed to measure those results. We call this approach outcome investing.
To give our partners flexibility in how they achieve results, we do not require them to report on all of their activities. Instead, we focus on purposefully measuring the most critical metrics of progress that support continued learning, adjustment, and alignment. However, the nature and frequency of measurement depends on the type of work. For example, scientific research projects may be measured differently than efforts to expand vaccine coverage.
Evaluation is another collaborative learning tool that provides us and our partners with feedback so we can improve, adjust, and decide how best to achieve outcomes. We work to ensure that our partners have the capacity and support to generate quality evidence.
Our foundation evaluation policy sets out parameters for evaluation and explains how and why we use evaluation and where variation is warranted. We acknowledge the ongoing debate about evaluation methods in many fields in which we work. We avoid one-size-fits-all prescriptions and strive to make selective, high-quality evaluation an integral part of how we carry out our work.

Our Approach

The foundation’s approach to transparency is grounded in our commitment to helping our partners understand what we do and why we do it. Visibility and access to the following information about the investments we make and how we approach our work is intended to improve that understanding.

Strategy- A shared understanding of our strategies will provide interested parties the information to assess alignment with our goals and objectives. This will strengthen our partnerships and create greater opportunities for collaboration.

Outcomes- Information generated during the course of our investment activities – in the form of research studies, data sets, evaluation results, investment results and strategy-related analytics - is significant public good. Access to this information is important for accountability, provides valuable learning to the sectors that we support, will facilitate faster and more well-informed decision making, and contributes to achieving the impact we seek.

Investments and Operations- Our business processes – such as those for making investments - are better to the extent they are clearly understood and open to feedback.

Financials- Consistent sets of financial data are valuable for clarity, analysis, and accountability. We aim to publish our information in ways consistent with open data standards so it has greater value and context.

People- Sharing who we are along with our responsibilities will personalize the foundation by helping interested parties get to know the people behind our work, facilitate access to information and provide greater opportunities for collaboration. We have a presumption in favor of disclosure with respect to information concerning our activities subject to operational and practical considerations and absent the following circumstances:

Security and safety -disclosure poses a risk of physical harm to persons or property.

Personal information- disclosure intrudes on personal privacy or breaches confidentiality.
Legally privileged and commercially sensitive information: disclosure violates legal commitments, such as non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality agreements, or would result in substantial harm to our grantees, partners or suppliers.

Timing of publication- disclosure upsets a dynamic process in ways that pose substantial risk to achieving the outcomes sought by our grantees and partners.

Premature documents-document is too early in development to publish.

Deliberations- Information related to our own internal deliberations and communications and deliberations and/or negotiations with third parties.