Warren Buffett To Give More Than $30B to Gates Foundation, About $3B to Susan Thompson Buffet FoundationBerkshire Hathaway Chair Warren Buffett on Sunday disclosed that he plans to donate stock currently valued at about $30.7 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wall Street Journal reports (Richardson, Wall Street Journal, 6/26). The Gates Foundation has an endowment of $29 billion and has spent more than $10 billion, much of it on programs to fight HIV/AIDS and other global health concerns. Bill Gates earlier this month announced that he plans to relinquish over the next two years all daily work duties at Microsoft, the company he founded, and work full time at the Gates Foundation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/16). Buffett said he plans initially to give $1.54 billion to the Gates Foundation and give annual donations that will "trend higher in an irregular but eventually substantial manner" (Blair Smith, USA Today, 6/26). In a letter dated Monday to Bill and Melinda Gates, Buffett said he wants all of his money to be distributed by the Gates Foundation in the year it is donated instead of contributed to the foundation's assets used for future giving (Gordon Blankinship, AP/CBS News, 6/26). According to the New York Times, the conditions of the donation require that Bill or Melinda Gates continue active participation in their foundation, and the terms of the donation could change when Buffett, age 75, dies. Buffett also will become a trustee of the Gates Foundation, the Times reports (O'Brien/Saul, New York Times, 6/26). Buffett on Sunday also disclosed he gradually plans to donate 85% of his wealth, all in Berkshire stock (Loomis , Fortune, 6/25). In addition to the Gates Foundation donations, he plans to give about $3 billion to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation -- which is named after his late wife and supports reproductive health and rights, family planning and college scholarship programs -- and about $1.07 billion each to foundations run by his three children -- the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Susan A. Buffett Foundation and the NoVo Foundation, according to the Chicago Tribune. The foundations support the arts, child protection, education and the environment.
Buffett, Gates Comments
Many observers had expected Buffett to give most of his money to the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, the Tribune reports (Miller, Chicago Tribune, 6/26). Buffett said, "[I]f I had died before Susie and she had begun to distribute our wealth, this is the foundation that would have scaled up to a much bigger size," adding, "I came to realize that there was a terrific foundation that was already scaled up ... and that could productively use my money now" (Loomis , Fortune, 6/25). He also said he has "grown to admire" what the Gateses are accomplishing with their foundation. Bill and Melinda Gates in a statement said, "We are awed by our friend Warren Buffett's decision to use his fortune to address the world's most challenging inequities," adding, "Working with [Buffett] and our partners around the world, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a positive difference in the world."
"What Gates did was insert new hope by stimulating new knowledge, new products or just new thinking," Anders Norstrom, acting director-general of the World Health Organization, said, adding that Buffett's commitment to use the Gates Foundation as a vehicle for his philanthropy, "from a WHO perspective, is a very good sign." According to the Los Angeles Times, public health researchers were "assembling their wish lists" within hours of Buffett's disclosure. "If anything, Buffett's involvement brings a broader range of thinking," Mark Miller of NIH said (Piller/Farley, Los Angeles Times, 6/25). Buffett's donation "continues to increase the size of the Gates Foundation and the size and scope of the projects they can undertake," Gene Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, said, adding, "They will have organizational challenges in determining how they manage that, how they create the kind of partnerships and staffing that can carry out the work" (New York Times, 6/26).
Wall Street Journal Examines Gates Foundation, Gates' Shift to Full-Time Work at Foundation
The Wall Street Journal on Monday examined Bill Gates' upcoming shift from his duties at Microsoft to devoting more time to the Gates Foundation, to which some people say he might "bring his fabled micromanagement style" (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 6/26). Gates said he does not plan to run the foundation but will have a similar role in its operations to his current one at Microsoft (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/22). According to the Journal, Gates is able to gain "far greater access to world leaders" than the "average philanthropist" or his foundation employees, who are a "cadre of handpicked physicians, public health veterans and corporate leaders." The Gates Foundation, which aims to "alter the landscape of poverty and disease in developing countries," will increase its staff from 275 to about 500 in the coming years, and its future under Gates' leadership "will likely see an intensification of its corporate-style, evidence-based approach to philanthropy," the Journal reports. The foundation's programs often "reflec[t] a growing view that health and welfare are directly linked to development and global security issues," according to the Journal. "They don't nickel and dime. They decide on a priority, decide what's needed, fund it and pull in other funders with them," David Heymann, polio chief at WHO, said, adding, "They decide on priorities and go after them. That's something public health never had before" (Wall Street Journal, 6/26).