SEATTLE: The world's richest charity, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to place its public affairs business up for pitch this April.
Until now, the Foundation's public affairs work has been handled by APCO Worldwide and Greer Margolis.
But Foundation public affairs director Trevor Neilson has confirmed it will invite 'a handful of firms with issue advocacy experience to come in and talk'.
Created in 1999 after two Gates charities merged, and given an endowment exceeding pounds 12bn, the Foundation has far outspent most industrialised nations on global health issues such as Aids and tuberculosis.
Neilson said prospective PA firms must have considerable experience with non-governmental organisations, as well as knowledge of global health, vaccine and K-12 education issues. 'We are not looking for corporate or hi-tech representation,' he added.
In September 2000, the Foundation announced pounds 39m in grants to school districts across the US.
The year before, the charity gave nearly pounds 1bn to fight global health threats, including Aids, malaria and tuberculosis - making Microsoft founder Gates the world's biggest donor in 1999.
Originally, the body - which launched in 1994 - was run by William Gates senior. But it was merged with affiliate Gates Learning Foundation to form the current Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.