The generous billionaire spent the last decade giving away his Berkshire fortune to nonprofits. Now, others are following suit.
In 2006, billionaire Warren Buffett pledged to donate 99% of his wealth to charity – an ongoing decision he’s still proud of today. In fact, he’s even gone as far as to solicit other billionaires to give half their wealth in a similar measure, through a jointly-created venture called The Giving Pledge. It’s an extremely generous and ongoing gesture for Buffet who claims he’ll still have enough to live comfortably and spend more time with his family.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has drawn the majority of Buffet’s contribution, however, he has also given a portion of his money to foundations within his family.
“What I can do… is to take a pile of Berkshire Hathaway stock certificates… and commit them to benefit others who… have received the short straws in life.”
As for what allowed him to accumulate such wealth in the first place, Buffet calls it mostly luck:
“My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate’s distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.”
It’s a distorted effect Buffet and other billionaires like him are looking to address; the 1% taking on the .01%. Buffet’s actions remind those of us who will never make it to the top that living your best life isn’t about wealth or possession. Time, according to him, is more important and a lesson we can all take note of.
Joe Rogan and Kyle Kulinski echo similar sentiments, discussing what some experts are finding on diminishing returns of happiness when annual incomes exceed $100,000:
With the ultra-wealthy affording to do this, what’s the ideal balance for those of us? It’s definitely a complicated answer and varies from individual.
Well-known donors to The Giving Pledge include (but not limited to) Bill Ackman (Pershing Capital), Bill and Melinda Gates (Microsoft), Richard and Joan Branson (The Virgin Group), Elon Musk (SpaceX), and George Lucas (Star Wars). Check out the entire list here.
While it’s understandable that donors who value privacy prefer to remain unknown, The Giving Pledge contends that openness is a better way forward.
“The goal is to talk about giving in an open way and create an atmosphere that can draw more people into philanthropy.”
Indeed, the massive amount of generosity shown here is enough to remind us that ultra-rich doesn’t equal greedy. Money is simply a tool, morally neutral and subject to the whims of the individual owner. What we do with it is up to us.