The magazine on stands Monday said it chose the trio "for being shrewd about doing good."
Time hailed Bono's role in planning the Live 8 concert, spurring G8 leaders to approve a $50 billion world aid package, half of which went to Africa.
"I'm experiencing an unusual feeling. I think it's called being humbled," the Irish rocker told CNN at a photo shoot Friday. "This can be a generation in which we eradicate extreme poverty."
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has raised $29 billion and helped save a minimum 700,000 by providing medical vaccines to poor countries, Time said.
"It has been a great year for global health to get more visibility," Bill Gates said Friday. "The more people know about it, the more they want to act."