Warren Buffett to Give Bulk of Fortune to Gates Foundation

Warren Buffett to Give Bulk of Fortune to Gates Foundation

Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest man in the country, will donate the bulk of his $44 billion fortune to the foundation of the wealthiest, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and four other philanthropies starting in July, the New York Times reports.

Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., plans to contribute 85 percent — about $37.4 billion — of his Berkshire stock to charity, with approximately $31 billion directed to the Gates Foundation, effectively doubling the asset base of the largest foundation in the United States. Buffett will divide the remaining $6 billion among four Buffett family foundations: the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named after his late wife; the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, named after and run by one of his sons; the Susan A. Buffett Foundation, named after and run by his daughter; and the NoVo Foundation, which is headed by his son Peter.

The gift from Buffett, who will join the Gates Foundation as a trustee, will be made in annual increments and could be distributed in an as-yet-unspecified way if Buffett dies before the entire sum is paid. The gift's terms also stipulate Buffett's participation in the deliberations of the Gates Foundation for the payments to continue.

According to Gene Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the size of Buffett's gift will affect the scope of the projects the Gates Foundation can undertake. "I'm not sure...we've seen someone give away a sum of money that large to another foundation," said Tempel. "Most people with this sum of money would try to create their own foundation in their own image; he's entrusting it to someone...who is twenty-five years his junior [and] who might be around to make sure it is used properly."

Timothy L. O'Brien. "Buffett to Give Bulk of His Fortune to Gates Charity." New York Times 06/26/2006.