Improving lives, fostering hope

I work at a Seattle-based nonprofit that does its very modest part to make the world a better place. Yet the noise around us says that no matter how hard we all work at doing good, the world is just getting worse.

But the Gates Foundation eloquently refutes that in Bill and Melinda Gates’ 2014 letter. The letter identifies key areas where the world’s poorest and sickest have made great strides. They show where nations once totally destitute are now approaching a kind of middle class lifestyle. They show that the population explosion can slow dramatically as more and more families are able to deal with preventable diseases. (It turns out that when moms and dads believe that their children will live beyond the age of 5, they tend to have fewer children, and the children they do have are healthier, better educated and more likely to grow up to be productive, contributing citizens.)

I tend to have a rather Pollyanna-ish view of life. So I’m especially grateful for the optimistic report Bill and Melinda have written: it’s not merely upbeat, it is filled with empirical evidence, facts, figures, charts and data that support their contentions. They are optimistic because there is so much evidence of progress. How optimistic is Bill? He predicts that by 2035 there will be almost no poor countries on the planet.

Is there more to be done here and abroad? Of course. We see challenges in front of us every day: homelessness, lack of access to good nutrition, human trafficking, and the list goes on. It’s easy to get caught up in despair if we don’t at least occasionally take a few moments to celebrate the progress that has been made. The Gates letter manages to recognize great progress and still encourages us to keep up the good work.

If you have ever supported a nonprofit organization with your time or treasure, if you have ever written a check or run a 5K to support a cause, I urge you to read the Gates Foundation letter. It’s engaging, easy to read and filled with hopeful examples of lives improved. And most importantly, it’s filled with hope for a better future for all humankind. You can read the letter in full at

Jon Siegel


Executive Director, TisBest Charity Gift Cards