Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Buffett sets personal charity record

Donates US$2.1B in annual gift to Gates Foundation

  • Print

NEW YORK -- Warren Buffett, the second-richest person in the U.S., made his largest single charitable contribution with a gift of US$2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as he seeks to encourage giving by the wealthy.

The chairman and chief executive officer of Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway gave 16.6 million Class B shares Monday in an annual gift to the foundation, where he is a trustee, shows a regulatory filing Tuesday. The donation beat last year's record gift of US$2 billion, when he gave 17.5 million shares. The stock has gained 8.4 per cent this year to US$128.49 as of Tuesday's market close.

Buffett, 83, has urged the ultra-wealthy to give away more money. He and Gates helped found the Giving Pledge, which asks billionaires including Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of social-media giant Facebook, to donate the majority of their wealth to charity. More than 120 have agreed.

"Now we're starting to get a few members from outside the United States, as well," Buffett said June 9 at the Edison Electric Institute annual convention in Las Vegas. "It can't be a bad thing, and I think it will turn out to be quite a good thing."

The investor's wealth soared this year to more than US$65 billion before donations announced Tuesday to the Gates Foundation and other charities. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is listed as the world's richest man in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the wealthiest people.

Buffett said he asks those who take the Giving Pledge to write letters about why they are donating, to inspire other rich people. He said it's important for younger billionaires such as Zuckerberg, 30, to set an example.

Zuckerberg "has an audience that's just totally different than what I would have," Buffett said at the conference. "These letters will have an effect in changing the norm somewhat in this country."

The Facebook CEO is among billionaires who don't have a letter posted along with their names on the Giving Pledge website. Others use the opportunity to talk about the importance of philanthropy or personal interests.

"My choice was to ruin my son's life by giving him money or giving 90-plus per cent to charity," wrote Manoj Bhargava, founder and CEO of Living Essentials, maker of five-hour Energy drinks. "Not much of a choice. Service to others seems the only intelligent choice for the use of wealth."

Bhargava wrote that his money goes to more than 400 charities that work on cheaply desalinating water, reducing fossil fuel emissions and improving the health of the poor.

Most of Buffett's donations go to the Gates Foundation, which focuses on hunger, poverty and education. He earmarked 10 million Class B shares for the Seattle-based charity in 2006 and gives five per cent of the remaining total each year. The shares were split 50-one in 2010.

The value of the annual gift fluctuates with Berkshire's share price. Last year, he gave 17.5 million shares to the Gates Foundation, worth US$2 billion. In 2012, his donation was about US$1.5 billion.

In a 2006 letter, Buffett said he expects the value of the shares to continue increasing in an "irregular but eventually substantial manner." Since he wrote that, he's given more than US$15 billion of shares to the Gates Foundation, based on their price at the time they were turned over.

The billionaire also made gifts Monday of 1.2 million Class B shares to each of his children's philanthropies. They are the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which works on solving conflicts and providing food to people in developing countries; the Sherwood Foundation, which targets education and social-justice issues in Nebraska; and the NoVo Foundation, a New York charity seeking to establish equality for women.

He donated 1.7 million Class B shares, worth more than US$210 million, to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. The education-focused charity is named for the billionaire's first wife, who died in 2004.

-- Bloomberg News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2014 B5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What should the city do with the 102-year-old Arlington Street bridge?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google