These varied from questions around overpopulation and climate change, to how Donald Trump's policies affect the Foundation's work, and what the Foundation has to show for the millions it has poured into areas such as education. For 2018 though, Bill and Melinda made a decision to offer a bit of insight into their personalities and ventured to take on "10 tough questions that we get asked". And we use our resources in a very specific way: to test out promising innovations, collect and analyze the data and let businesses and governments scale up and sustain what works.
Other top 10 questions include why the foundation gives money to for-profit corporations, why they don't donate more to US causes, if saving kids' lives fuels overpopulation and if the couple ever disagrees.
But for this year, the co-founders of the world's richest philanthropy have instead opted to answer a selection of critical and skeptical questions about the foundation's work and the power it wields.
Melinda Gates also acknowledged that the foundation wields outsized influence because of her family's vast wealth.
"No. It's not fair that we have so much wealth when billions of others have so little", Bill Gates answered.
I don't think Gates should be treated like a hero for his philanthropy.
Their approach to giving has shifted the philanthropy world as a whole. Bill Gates Melinda GatesAnd we are committed to being open about what we fund and what the results have been. "Whereas if we don't try some ideas that fail, we're not doing our jobs", he writes. "Even if we measured everything the government did only by how much it helped American citizens, global engagement would still be a smart investment".
Their huge wealth, privilege, and influence is one reason why they launched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they wrote. We've spent thousands of hours learning together, meeting with scientists, educators and world leaders. "And they make Americans more secure by making poor countries more stable and stopping disease outbreaks before they become pandemics", Bill Gates said.
"It's always been important to us that we are equal partners in our foundation's work".
Trump has said he's a counterpuncher who goes after people when they go after him, only 10 times harder.
But when asked about the growing criticism that big technology companies like Facebook and Twitter have faced over their role in spreading misinformation, Gates said he hadn't "seen great solutions", though "I'm hopeful they'll come".
One of the questions in the letter is about what happens when the two of them disagree. We think that's a basic responsibility of anyone with a lot of money.
"The other reason is that we have fun doing it".
"The issues of economic mobility in America are deeply intertwined: education, employment, race, housing, mental health, incarceration, substance abuse", Bill writes.
However, for the past ten years, Bill and Melinda have set aside a small portion of their time to directly interact with the public at large through their foundation's annual letter which normally touts the year's achievements.