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Warren Buffett donated another $4.1 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares to charity, marking the halfway point in his 2006 pledge. At the time, Buffett announced that he would donate more than 99 percent of his net worth to philanthropic endeavors. “Today is a milestone,” according to the Berkshire billionaire, who has officially donated half of his shares to charity over the years.
At the start of the pledge, Warren Buffett owned 474,998 Class A shares. Now, after his yearly donation spread across five charities, he only owns 238,624 shares, worth $100 billion. Buffett, however, claimed in his statement that all of his existing shares “remain destined for philanthropy,” which will be spread throughout future annual gifts.
In his announcement, Buffett was quick to question himself and his philanthropy. Over the 16 years since his pledge, his annual contributions have equated to around $41 billion when disbursed. Buffett instructed that those charitable donations be spent, though he reflects on that decision today.
“Had I waited until now to give the shares,” Buffett explained, “they would have instead brought $100 billion to the five foundations.” Berkshire shares have increased in value since 2006, and the billionaire wonders whether society would have “benefitted more if” he had “waited longer to distribute the shares.”
The 90-year-old entrepreneur has spread his wealth across five foundations over the years, through annual gifts to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, Sherwood Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and NoVo Foundation. Though they are generous donations, Buffett admits that there is a “much more admirable form of philanthropy than mine” which “involves the giving of personal time and effort.” Buffett claimed that he’s “done little of that.”
Still, Warren Buffett’s donations have done remarkable things for the foundations and the world. Bill Gates said in a tweet that “the value of Warren’s gift goes beyond anything that can be measured.” The tech billionaire continued the post, saying that “I am truly grateful for his wisdom and leadership, and most of all for his enduring friendship. Warren will continue to inspire our foundation as we work to fight poverty and help millions of people live healthier lives.”
I am truly grateful for his wisdom and leadership, and most of all for his enduring friendship. Warren will continue to inspire our foundation as we work to fight poverty and help millions of people live healthier lives. https://t.co/qYYl1APURx
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) June 23, 2021
Warren Buffett’s announcement to donate $4.1 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares was followed by his resignation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for which he was a trustee. He claims he is leaving the foundation in good hands, though it isn’t clear if his resignation from the role is due in part to the divorce of the foundation’s founding members, Bill and Melinda Gates.
“For years I have been a trustee — an inactive trustee at that — of only one recipient of my funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMG),” Buffett wrote. “I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire’s.”
The philanthropist continued, saying that “the CEO of BMG is Mark Suzman, an outstanding recent selection who has my full support. My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has gone through its share of turmoil, though it seems Warren Buffett is confident that those issues are resolvable and his funds are in good hands. Last month, Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, announced that they filed for divorce. Despite the rocky split, the divorce announcement claimed that the couple “will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction.”
Warren Buffett’s absence will likely not affect the proceedings of the foundation, especially if his donations keep piling in. As it was made clear by the billionaire, he was very hands-off when it came to his philanthropy.
Going forward, Buffett insists that things will only get better. In a particularly inspiring conclusion, Warren Buffett said that “I’m optimistic. Though naysayers abound — as they have throughout my life — America’s best days most certainly lie ahead. Philanthropy will continue to pair human talent with financial resources. So, too, will business and government. Each force has its particular strengths and weaknesses. Combined, they will make the world a better place — a much better place — for future generations.”