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How to get a billionaire to give you money, according to Bill Gates

Bill Gates appears on 'Good Morning America' on ABC.
Ida Mae Astute | Getty Images
Bill Gates appears on 'Good Morning America' on ABC.

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has worked with countless billionaires and today, as the founder and chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he travels the world urging the ultra-wealthy to give money to charitable causes.

On Thursday, Gates visited the Daily Show with Trevor Noah to talk about the importance of international aid and philanthropy.

"How do you get a billionaire to give you all of their money? You say Warren Buffett gave you his money and many other billionaires are just like 'ya take my money?'" asked host Trevor Noah jokingly. "Just say, hypothetically I wanted to get a billionaire to give me all of their money, how do I go about that? How do I start the conversation?"

Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah'
Brad Barket | Getty Images
Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah'

In response, Gates clarified that he asks for money on behalf of his charity, not to fund his personal lifestyle: "They're not giving it to me."

The secret to fundraising from billionaires, Gates says, is to put money into perspective: "When you have that degree of success you're not really talking about personal deprivation."

Instead, billionaires are thinking about how their fortunes will be passed down to their heirs.

"You have to decide if you're trying to start an aristocratic dynasty so that all the money stays in your family," he says. "And hey, that's OK, you're free to do that. But I think when you're that successful, ideally, you pick a disease, pick a cause, and I think you'll get a lot of fulfillment."

It feels good to make a difference in the lives of others, and these positive feelings drive Americans to be particularly altruistic, says Gates. "Americans are very generous. We have more big philanthropists than any other country. And other countries like China and India are hopeful that the same tradition develops."

Reminding billionaires of their own mortality can be sensitive, but Gates says it's a worthwhile endeavor.

"Some people don't like to think about their death," says Gates. "When you say, 'OK, you're going to have to give it away because you can't take it with you,' it does force them to think about how much they are giving to their kids and that they won't live forever. So I won't say that it's an easy topic to bring up, but I think it's great for people to give it more thought."

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