Patti Harris’ Letter on Philanthropy



We have always believed in big, bold ideas at Bloomberg Philanthropies, and in 2014, our ambitions continued to grow. It was a year in which our founder – Michael Bloomberg – left public office and returned to the private sector, allowing him to spend more time on his philanthropic passions. As a result, it was a year filled with new commitments on new issues, new partnerships with new allies, and new initiatives aimed at achieving new goals.

Our approach to philanthropy, as Michael Bloomberg explains on the previous pages, is unique. We’re entrepreneurial at heart and apply the best lessons from business and government to the management of our global philanthropic work. By staying lean, our talented team of experts and staff can act quickly and boldly to tackle emerging issues. It keeps us nimble and allows decisions to be made quickly, as well as empowers every staff member on every level to put their best ideas forward and interact directly with key leadership.

We also work to identify serious problems that receive too little attention – or that are too easily accepted as social or cultural norms. Reducing tobacco use, our first major investment in a global campaign, certainly fits that description, but so do many other areas of our work. And last year, we announced new initiatives, including one to combat drowning deaths in Bangladesh, where 32 children drown every day.

We also added a new program to reverse the decline in the world’s fish supply, which threatens both human health and the ecosystems that sustain oceanic life.

Last year, both our drowning and oceans initiatives showed very encouraging results, as did programs in all five of the areas where our work is focused: arts, education, the environment, government innovation, and public health. This report offers a snapshot of the work we did and the progress we made in each area. As you will see, just as data drives the decisions we make about where to invest, data also defines the way we measure success.

For instance, our Beyond Coal campaign does not measure success only by the number of power plants that have closed or transitioned to cleaner burning fuels. Our goal is cleaner air that is healthier for our lungs and planet, with fewer of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. And there may be no better evidence of the progress we’ve made toward that goal than the fact that the U.S. now leads the world in carbon emission reductions. Of course, the Beyond Coal campaign isn’t the only force driving that change, but it’s one of the most important.

Ensuring better, longer lives for the greatest number of people is our mission, and it is inspiring to come to work each day knowing that we have an opportunity to advance that mission. In the year ahead, we will continue pushing the pace of progress, and pushing in new directions, too.


Patricia E. Harris
Chief Executive Officer