Fortune (June 16,2010) reported that billionaire buddies Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are calling on fellow billionaires to pledge at least half of their fortunes to charity.
The effort might raise hundreds of billions and could be the biggest fundraising drive in history.
Here are some excerpts about Buffett’s charity efforts from Andrew Kilpatrick’s Buffett biography: Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett/2010 Edition.
On June 25, 2006, Buffett once again leaped upon the world stage, as did Bill and Melinda Gates~but this time not for business reasons. That day, Buffett announced that he would give the bulk of his money to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Word of the historic philanthropic event came via a Fortune article written by Carol Loomis, who quoted Buffett as beginning their talk with, “Brace yourself.” Over the years, Buffett has repeatedly said his fortune would go to the Buffett Foundation following his death; but with time, plans sometimes change. He had always said his fortune would go back to society, and that part has not changed. Still, no one had a clue he would make Bill and Melinda Gates the vehicle for his gift~the largest charitable commitment in history going to the largest charity…
So how do you properly thank someone for the random act of kindness of turning over, say, $30 billion to your foundation?
In a press conference at the New York Public Library on June 26, 2006, Buffett formally announced the gift, and Gates gave him, as an attribute to Buffett’s generosity, a first edition copy of Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759).
Gates read the first words of Moral Sentiments to a room full of journalists: “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.”
Gates, a rare-book collector, also gave Buffett a first edition of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, a seminal work of great genius which calls for the individuals right to free enterprise. It is regarded as the foremost classic of modern economic thought. It was one of the earliest attempts to study the rise of commerce in Europe and offered rationales for free trade and capitalism. A first edition lists for about $150,000 in rare book catalogs.