The benefactors are five organisations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
A decade ago, one of the world’s richest man, Warren Buffett, pledged $30 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stocks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That amount essentially doubled the size of the foundation’s endowment.
The reason that the donation stood out was that Bill and Melinda committed to doing something extraordinary with it – convert philanthropy into a scalable business model that continues to give, rather than a diminishing asset that will eventually run dry.
Buffet’s $30 billion pledge back then also spurred several others to give generously – most notably among them Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal who pledged $32 billion of his wealth to charity in 2015, and also Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan pledging to give away 99 per cent of their personal wealth during their lifetime away to charity (Zuckerberg currently has a net worth of around $64.4 billion).
On Monday, Warren Buffett pledged another $3.17 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stocks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with four other family charities. The biggest benefactor of Monday’s announcement is the Gates’ foundation which will receive $2.42 billion.
The remaining amount has been divided between the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation (named after the billionaire’s first wife), and three other charities set up by his children including the Sherwood Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation and NoVo Foundation.
Buffett isn’t done yet. He has said that he will will eventually give away all his shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett, Bill and Melinda started the Giving Pledge campaign in 2010 to get more billionaires to pledge to charities. Already, around 168 of the world’s billionaires are the signatories to the pledge and have omitted to give away at least half their wealth to philanthropy.
Following Monday’s announcement, whether you consider Buffett as $3.17 billion richer or poorer reveals how you look at the business of philanthropy.