The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been one of the biggest contributors to global social progress.
It's famously played a crucial role in reducing STD deaths by 50%+, increased worldwide access to nutrition, education and gender equality and delivered millions of vaccines to prevent countless deadly diseases across the world’s most vulnerable areas.
And this is your chance to learn from its cofounder, Melinda French Gates.
In this once-in-a-lifetime MasterClass, Melinda discusses her outlook, strategy and advises you on how to be successful in your humanitarian efforts.
In this Melinda Gates MasterClass review, I’ll share everything you need to know and detail my personal experience of the course so that you can judge whether it’s what you are looking for.
But first, if you're pressed for time, these are the headlines.
You will learn:
- The different ways you can begin giving to a cause that matters to you
- Melinda Gates’ tried and tested “think, test, do” method she uses at Pivotal
- How to do research for a philanthropic project
- Methods for searching for partnerships to strengthen your chances of success
- Insight into who or what projects to invest in
- How to stay motivated by a cause
- To be flexible and accept failure
- Amazing overview of all philanthropy’s moving parts
- Great insight into how Melinda builds up a project
- Exposure to Melinda’s amazing approach for philanthropic projects
- Includes lots of helpful tips that could be applicable to other career goals and passions
- Detailed and easy-to-read workbook
- Can be repetitive (but this can also help you retain key points better)
- Content can be very general
- Less insight into how to build a network with few resources
Length of course: 2 hours and 29 minutes long and consists of 17 videos
Best for: People with an intention to set resources aside for a charitable cause they value. Although you will get advice on how to begin giving with little, better suited for people with a mix of money, time and an applicable skill who want to dedicate a significant portion of their lives to making the world a better place.
Overall: A unique MasterClass from one of the world’s leading philanthropists, where you’ll be introduced to the thinking that led Melinda to success. An opportunity to learn how you can strategically contribute to a cause you care about and build a project that will have the biggest impact. Includes an amazing detailed and concise workbook that you can download and keep for life.
If you're still unsure about whether Melinda’s course is for you, continue reading. Here’s what I’ll cover in this review:
- About Melinda French Gates and MasterClass
- A detailed overview of what’s included in the course
- Pros and cons
- Who it’s for
- How much it costs
- Other courses that talk about charity work
- What other people thought of the course
- How unique the content is
- Whether Melinda’s course is worth it
About Melinda French Gates
Melinda Gates is a leading figure and innovator in the world of philanthropy.
Originally a general manager at Microsoft, she became the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charity aiming to reduce poverty, as well as improve global access to health and education.
In 2015, Melinda founded Pivotal Ventures, a company that invests in ideas, people, and organisations that seek to improve social progress in the United States. She was awarded a US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French Legion of Honour medal for all her amazing efforts.
With such amazing experience under her belt, anyone would be able to get something out of her Masterclass.
And if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, here it is:
MasterClass is the only learning platform of its kind. It provides users with detailed and outstanding classes taught by their favourite celebrities.
With classes available in music production, acting, meditation, space exploration and more, Masterclass allows members to learn some of the most rewarding and fun skills from their icons.
MasterClass is a subscription-based platform, meaning that if you opt for Melinda’s course, you will also receive access to more than 150 courses taught by other prolific leaders such as Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, and Malala Yousafzai.
If you want to learn more about MasterClass, or want to know what classes are an absolute must, check out our MasterClass review or our best MasterClass guide.
Inside Melinda French Gates’ MasterClass
The whole course consists of 17 videos which total 2 hours and 29 minutes. The MasterClass is very digestible, with lessons usually around 10 minutes long.
Most videos are lecture-like lessons that also include written reflective exercises to allow you to put some of Melinda’s advice into practice. Interwoven between Melinda’s lessons are narrated videos of Melinda reading out some of her journal entries, which provide excellent examples of the topics she discusses.
Alongside these lessons, Melinda Gates’ MasterClass comes with a 36-page workbook that allows you to easily follow her video lessons.
I’ve decided to group Melinda’s lessons into themes so that you can get a clear glimpse of what you will get in the course.
Lesson 1: Meet your instructor
In this lesson, you will get introduced to Melinda’s journey, from growing up in a Catholic family from Texas to becoming the world-leading philanthropist she is.
What you will learn:
- How Melinda grew from a computer science background at Microsoft to becoming one of the world’s leading philanthropists
- About Melinda’s work in HIV prevention, women’s rights and more
- What motivates one of the wealthiest people to give towards social progress
Lessons 2, 6 and 8: Let your values and emotions motivate you to give
Melinda wants to motivate you to give. Through encouraging us to outline our values, or engage in our community to find a cause you feel connected with, many of Melinda’s lessons provide us insight on how to stay motivated during our journey of giving.
You will learn to:
- Outline your core values and determine what motivates you to act
- Narrow down on a specific issue and concentrate your resources there to best influence change
- Use emotion, field visits and journaling to stay connected to a cause
Lessons 4, 5, 9, 10, 12 and 14: Creating a business strategy
In these lessons Melinda gives you concrete advice on how to build a successful business strategy.
You will learn:
- To calculate how you can start contributing to a cause that matters to you
- To assess what kind of resources you can contribute to your chosen cause
- Melinda’s tried and tested “think, test, do” framework that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has used to be one of the most successful charities in the world
- To create measurable goals to track your success and approach giving in a realistic way
- Use both quantitative and qualitative research to help you to find better solutions
- Create valuable partnerships that will help further your mission
Lessons 13, 15 and 17: Tips and insights to follow during your giving journey
Here, Melinda gives you general advice on how to be successful in your philanthropic efforts.
From what type of data you should consider to how you should personally approach any charitable efforts, Melinda provides you with wisdom she has gained over the years that will help you contribute to a cause successfully.
You will learn to:
- Approach barriers strategically and overcome them
- Let go of your ego and become a better listener to achieve your goals
- Learn from your failures and get comfortable being uncomfortable
Lessons 3, 7, 11 and 16: Examples of Melinda’s journal entries
One of Melinda’s favourite activities is to journal her experiences. For her, this is a way to document successes, failures and emotions in a productive way so that she can look back for inspiration when she feels stuck or when she needs motivation.
You will learn:
- To write journal entries that will motivate you down the line
- Ways to document obstacles in an efficient way
- Some of Melinda’s inspiring stories from her experiences in Tanzania, India and more
- How Melinda applies some of the advice she gives
What I liked about Melinda French Gates’ MasterClass
Good overview of the world of Philanthropy
Melinda’s course explains lots of moving parts involved in charity work. From the attitude we ought to have as philanthropists to Melinda’s practical advice on how to put a vision into action, the course covers a lot of ground.
Learning from one of the most successful givers of all time
One of the greatest takeaways from this course is the mindset Melinda has adopted after years of experience. Instead of starting from scratch, Melinda’s MasterClass reveals the approach that has led her to consistently be so successful in her work.
Applicable to other career paths and hobbies
While part of Melinda’s MasterClass was about how to start a philanthropic organisation, the course is basically a guide on how to be a self-starter! A lot of advice she gives is also helpful to starting your own company, materialising a dream, or more.
Melinda really narrows down on how to build something long lasting, by teaching you how to establish something you are passionate about and see it through.
Valuable perspective on how to perceive those in need
Melinda offers a great perspective on how to treat those you are trying to help.
Many of us have the idea that charity recipients should just be grateful for what we give them, and Melinda does an amazing job at deconstructing this belief. Melinda teaches you how to rethink and approach people as valuable resources to help you achieve your goals.
Using emotion to advance your mission
Emotion is often seen as something that hinders effectiveness. We are often taught that emotion is a weakness that gets in the way of professionalism.
I loved how Melinda has a completely different take on emotion. Melinda teaches you how to channel your emotion to construct a long lasting project. What a helpful and productive way of looking at something we all have in us!
Complete and user-friendly workbook
I found the workbook to be the highlight of the course. It’s beautifully designed, very easy to sift through, and contains very detailed and practical information for anyone interested in giving to a cause.
It includes guidelines that would be helpful for anyone, whether you are interested in contributing to a charitable cause on the side of your career, or looking to build your own charity.
Good insight on how to invest your money
Melinda’s course explains the different ways you can invest into charities.
Not only did I get better insight into how I could spend my money, but I also gained knowledge of where I could look and how I could market myself to gather donations if I were to start a non-profit of my own.
What I think could be improved
Obviously, no course will be perfect. In this section I’ll let you know what I personally thought could have been better.
I sometimes found Melinda’s course to be quite repetitive. One example of this is her explanation of connecting with people in need, which she would bring back in a lot of sections.
This might not be a con for you. Quite a lot of psychological studies have shown that repetition leads people to remember things better. For me though, I occasionally struggled to keep up with the structure and occasionally found myself losing focus.
Vague at times
Since Melinda is appealing to a wide audience, the course sometimes lacks specifics. In some parts, I found it hard to see how her advice could apply to my situation.
If you have a clear project in mind, you might need to supplement this course with other materials that are more tailored, as a lot of Melinda’s advice remained quite general.
That being said, the workbook was a lot more precise, so you would definitely benefit from it.
Might not be for everyone
Melinda is obviously a very successful woman who began one of the world’s greatest charities with a lot of wealth. Hence, while she gives advice to people with fewer financial resources, a lot of the course content naturally talks about Melinda’s personal experience giving on a grand scale.
But if you think about it, this means that Melinda tells you what people like her are looking for when they decide to spend money. So you’ll still be able to learn from this if you don’t have huge amounts of money since Melinda still lets you know what can make someone like her want to invest in you!
Who is this course for?
- Someone who is interested in charity, but doesn’t know a lot about how Philanthropy works
- For listeners who wants to learn how one of the most successful philanthropists managed to achieve such amazing results
- For people who want to take charge and effect positive change
- Better suited for people who learn by listening or reading. Less for people who need to put lessons into practice (although there are some written exercises)
- While anyone would get something from this course, you will probably get more from it if you have (or intend to save) money to set aside for a charitable cause
How much does the course cost?
At the time of writing, a MasterClass subscription costs $15/month for one user, $20/month for two users, and $23/month for up to six. All billed annually.
This is a bargain considering that with the subscription, you have access to more than 150 courses that cover a wide range of things that could interest you. And these are taught by those at the very pinnacle of their respective fields.
Another thing I find great about a MasterClass subscription is that you end up discovering new things that you might have not invested in if you didn’t already have a subscription. If I didn’t have the membership, I would have never watched Ester Perel’s class on Relational Intelligence. But I watched it and learned lots about how to resolve conflicts in relationships, understand power dynamics and more!
Remember that MasterClass is very unique. Not only do you get to learn about different career paths and passions, but you also get to learn from world-renowned icons! It’s almost too good to be true!
Also, MasterClass offers a 30 day refund if you’re unhappy with your purchase, so you can always try it out, and cancel your membership if it isn’t for you.
Alternatives to Melinda French Gates’ MasterClass
On MasterClass itself, there are a number of courses that would work well with this one:
- Malala Yousafzai on Creating Change
- Hillary Clinton on The Power of Resilience
- George Bush on Entering Public Service
- Indra Nooyi on Leading With Purpose
But if you’re wondering what other courses could be out there, I have a couple that might be of interest to you.
An amazing class I found was “Fundraising From Scratch: A Complete Guide to Growing Income” on Udemy. This course is more of a “how to” and encompasses very detailed practical advice that will help you get more money for your cause.
The course itself is taught by Simon Scriver, who is a fundraising consultant and won Ireland’s “Small Budget, Big Impact” award in 2016. So his course might be better if you are someone with less financial resources of your own, looking to make the world a better place.
Simon’s course might be a great compliment to Melinda Gates’ course as it may teach you to put some of what Melinda Gates talks about into practice.
But Simon Scriver’s course is very specific. It is about fundraising for charity. In contrast, Melinda Gates’ MasterClass provides an overview of the different aspects constituting charity work. And charity is not only about finance.
Another course I came across was Jerry Banfield’s Skillshare course on charity fundraising. Again, this course is very specific and shows you how to use “GoFundMe” to get donations for a cause you care about.
While this might be great for someone who wants in-depth, hands-on advice, it’s very niche and might not have everything you are looking for.
What others have said
At the time of writing, Melinda Gates’ MasterClass is quite new and doesn’t have a lot of reviews yet. So to get a jist of what others think, I looked at the comments below the trailer on Youtube.
At the time of writing, there aren’t any negative comments about the MasterClass specifically. Most comments focus on Melinda’s MasterClass being relatable.
“Some of the things she mentions reminded me of when I was being a volunteer helping people in the streets” - Comment from Youtube
“Her thinking reminds me of my friend Serena who runs Help Heal Humanity who builds schools in 3rd world countries lacking education for children” - Comment from Youtube
And other than that, everyone seems to be loving the class.
"On my fourth lesson already today. Great stuff. Thanks, Melinda" Comment from Youtube
Is the course content unique?
The course is DEFINITELY unique. While there are courses that get more specific into how to fundraise, create a highly effective business plan or recruit volunteers, no other course gives you as wide of an overview as Melinda’s.
Melinda’s course provides you with an overview of general behaviours that will facilitate success in charity giving. It includes loads of influential examples and great stories that will help you understand why Melinda’s approach works, while giving you a great introduction to the elements of charity work that you should delve into and research more about.
And of course, no other course has Melinda Gates herself starring as the teacher, which is a huge bonus.
Is Melinda French Gates’ course worth it?
Everyone will get something out of this course. Whether you want to get into charity work, or just want insights on how to be a successful self-starter, you will finish the course having learned something.
When you think how many other amazing courses you get when purchasing a subscription to MasterClass, that Melinda’s course will only take 2 hours and 29 minutes of your time, and that all you need is a pen and paper, the course is definitely worth it.
But will you get what you want out of it?
It completely depends on what you’re looking for.
If you want to discover Melinda’s mindset, or want to start giving back to society but don’t know where or how to start, then this course is completely worth it. If you want a great workbook that you can keep coming back to for valuable guidance on starting any charitable enterprise, Melinda’s course is a steal.
But if you want a very specific “how to” course, that teaches you how to create a business plan, measure finances, organise charity events or use certain online platforms to do some fundraising, you might be disappointed by the course content and leave wanting more.
Frequently asked questions
At the time of writing, a MasterClass subscription costs $15/month for one user, $20/month for two, and $23/month for six (all billed annually)
The course is 2 hours and 29 minutes.
No. To get the course, you will have to purchase a subscription to MasterClass. But you can sample a snippet of the course for free.
Yes. You can try out MasterClass for 30 days and get a full refund if you don’t like it.
Ella is a recent Graduate from King’s College London’s BA programme in War Studies and Philosophy.