Whoa! On Wednesday, there was a significant upheaval in the billionaire philanthropy sector. The billionaire Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett, announced today that he is resigning from his position with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Warren revealed he has given $4.1 billion to charity in the letter outlining his decision to leave the company. He made a specific donation of the $4.1 billion to the five foundations to whom he has annually made donations since 2006. These five pillars are:
The Gates received the highest donation of the day, $3.2 billion.
Of the five foundations above, only the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is NOT run by one of Warren’s children. Three of Warren’s kids are:
Susan is the director of the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, as you would have guessed. The Sherwood Foundation is handled by her as well. Peter Buffett leads the Novo Foundation, while Howard G. Buffett oversees the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla
The high-profile and expensive divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates, or any of the stories circulating about Bill’s supposedly inappropriate behavior in the workplace, were not mentioned by Warren in his statement. Instead, he noted that his resignation from the Gates Foundation is simply part of his overall plan to cut back and resign from all corporate boards except Berkshire Hathaway. After all, he is 90 years old. He continues to serve as the company’s chairman and CEO.
However, there is a crucial qualification to make when talking about Warren Buffett’s wealth!
Warren has given $4 billion to charity today, bringing his lifetime total to $41 billion. Warren’s net wealth today would be $145 billion if he had never given a penny to charity. He would tie Bill Gates for the fourth-richest person in the world with only that.
Bill Gates, however, comes with a similar warning. Throughout their marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates donated $50 billion to charity. Bill Gates would be worth $195 billion today if they had never given money to charity and had no intention of divorcing. That would make him the second richest person in the world behind Jeff Bezos, who is worth $202 billion.
As its founders move toward divorce, Buffett’s withdrawal from his position as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation comes at a precarious time for one of the greatest charities in the world. For many years, Bill and Melinda have worked together to run their charity. According to reports, the former couple is considering adding a board of directors and hiring outside directors to their philanthropy in order to provide it more control and independence and to safeguard the foundation’s long-term stability. Currently serving as co-chairs and trustees, Bill and Melinda are in charge of managing the foundation. Buffett is a significant donor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and formerly served as a trustee, giving him influence over important decisions. Since 2006, Buffett has served as a foundation trustee.
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