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Warren Buffett, Philanthropist

September 3, 2015

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has decided to transfer a major part of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Charitable Foundation.  His intentions are practical, well thought-out, quite logical and seem devoid of ego.

Warren has always thought that passing on great wealth is not the best thing to do, although passing on comfortable amounts are OK. His wealth is too massive to transfer to his heirs.  Early on, he used his wealth to “teach” his children how to give and to have it done in a way that he could evaluate their actions.  Well, they did a great job.  He is very proud of them and has expanded the amounts he donated to their foundations.  They are supporting some very commendable activities. buff

The biography, written by Alice Schroeder (a member of my profession and a CPA), does a great job explaining his thinking process and reasons.  It is obvious that he thought hard about it over a long period of time and his decisions are clear and spelled out in the book.  Some comments are:

  • He doesn’t care about buildings in his honor.
  • He no longer wants to wait to give the money preferring to see its results.
  • He does not want to create a perpetual never-ending legacy and would rather see his annual contributions expended reasonably quickly after being donated.
  • He sees the importance of a well-ordered leadership, management and administrative team.
  • He values dedication and commitment to causes he deems important and far reaching.
  • And he has no desire to get involved in something where he has to recreate the wheel.

His decision is to start while he is alive and he chose the Gates Foundation because they meet all his criteria.  He also has grown close to Bill and Melinda, values their values and likes their relative youth.  He’s seen them in action and likes what he sees!

Once you surpass a certain point in your wealth beyond the assurance of financial security for yourself and family, careful consideration should be given to how you want to use your wealth to create the lessons and legacy you want to leave behind.  Use the above for some ideas.

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