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​Bill Gates asks Twitter users how to give away $50K

Bill Gates is asking his more than 16 million Twitter followers for advice on how to give away $50,000.

The world's wealthiest man and co-founder of Microsoft (MSFT) is also a major philanthropist, creating the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the 1990s and giving away billions. While $50,000 might seem like chump change to Gates, his question was apparently aimed at drawing public attention to an unusual task given to Northwestern University students this year.

The university's course on philanthropy requires its students to analyze and investigate nonprofits that could benefit from a $50,000 donation, The New York Times notes. Other top universities ranging from Harvard to Yale have also created philanthropy-related classes, which are seen as ways to learn how to work in the nonprofit arena (where the students would eventually be soliciting donations from patrons) or how to give away their own funds.

So what types of suggestions did Gates receive? Those ranged from donating the funds to programs for school meals to helping organizations that provide safe spaces for LGBT youths.

At the same time, Gates has been slowing his charitable giving, according to The Times. After donating $24.6 billion in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he trimmed that to $3.7 billion from 2002 to 2012. Nevertheless, he and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett sparked the idea for "The Giving Pledge," which is a "moral pledge" made by the world's wealthiest to give away half their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes.

Overall, the country's biggest donors are giving more money to charity of late, with the top 50 giving $7.7 billion in charitable gifts in 2013. While that was a 4 percent increase from 2012, it lags the increase in the Forbes' 2013 billionaires' personal wealth, which jumped 17 percent from 2012.

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