An Oracle at the Gates >> Warren Buffett’s great act of Philanthropy

Bill gates and Warren Buffett on the Charlie Rose Show

Over the weekend the world’s second richest man, Warren Buffett, announced that he was donating a large portion of his overall wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Buffett plans to give away 85 percent of his fortune, or about $37.4 billion, all in Berkshire stock. Of that amount, he will channel the greatest share, about $31 billion, into the Gates Foundation.

The other four charities that Buffett will divide about $6 billion in Berkshire stock among are the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation; the Howard G. Buffett Foundation; the Susan A. Buffett Foundation; and the NoVo Foundation – supporting a variety of causes from abortion rights, anti-nuclear proliferation to conservational issues.

The Gates Foundation is already the United States’ largest grant-making foundation, with current assets of almost $30 billion. Buffett’s contribution will not be made all at once, but rather in 5 percent annual increments. Moreover, the terms of the donation also require the continued active participation of at least one of the Gates for the payments to continue.

Buffett’s massive contribution may permanently solidify that philanthropy’s standing as the biggest and most influential organization of its kind. The second-largest charitable foundation in the country is the Ford Foundation, with an endowment of $11.6 billion.

Some facts to put the $37 Billion donation into perspective:

  • $12bn annual budget of the United Nations.
  • $35 billion annual defense budget of Germany.
  • Namibia’s health budget is $730m/yr

adopted from an International Herald Tribune article

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