Warren Buffett Needs Help Giving Away His Billions
At an estimated net worth of $66 billion, Warren Buffett is one of the planet's richest humans. He's also one of the most generous. Forbes puts his lifetime giving at $22.7 billion—37 percent of his net worth.
And now, Buffett is looking for people to help him spend his billions. Or, rather, his sister is.
Doris Buffett, 88, is Warren's philanthropic partner in crime, so to speak. While Warren focuses primarily on big-picture issues, giving his money to solve world hunger and install better health care, among other things, Doris looks out for the little guys—namely, the many thousands of individuals who have written to Warren asking for a small sliver of his billions.
The Boston Globe explained:
One consequence of being extremely wealthy is that strangers ask you for money—not just donation requests from countless charities, but pleas for financial help from individuals all over the world.
Each year, Buffett, the billionaire investor, receives thousands of letters from people asking whether he would pay their mortgages, medical bills, credit card debt and more. Through a unique sibling partnership, Buffett forwards the letters to his older sister, Doris, who decides which ones to fund. Over the past decade, at least 22,000 letters have crossed their collective desks, and they have given away more than $12 million.
Wealthy folks, especially high-profile ones, get individual requests for money all the time. But it's not often they give it. And it's less often they have in place a mechanism for facilitating that giving on a wider scale.
Warren, through Doris and her Sunshine Lady Foundation, has that, and has had it since 2006. According to The Boston Globe, the foundation handles all requests from individuals, making around 250 gifts per year totaling more than $1 million. When funds get low, Warren tops them off, usually with transferred Berkshire Hathaway stock, valued at $221,000 per share.
Reading through 22,000 letters and deciding who gets funded, and for how much, is a massive undertaking requiring background checks, phone calls to references and plenty of tough decisions. That work has fallen almost entirely on volunteers. But their ranks are dwindling, and Doris is now looking for more, specifically from the Boston area, where she lives.
If you've ever wanted to give away someone else's billions, this might be the opportunity for you—assuming you're tough enough to handle the rigorous standards. Via The Boston Globe:
Doris Buffett has firm standards for whom she will and won’t help, and she trains her volunteers to maintain those rules. She won’t give money, for example, to people who smoke, gamble or accumulate debt through frivolous spending.
“We’d be wasting our money, and we don’t do that,” she said. “We’re investing in you; that’s the way we feel about it,” and she doesn’t consider such people good investments.
Buffett sometimes phones individuals herself to let them know she plans to give them money, and she is not hesitant to lecture those she believes have wayward lifestyles. That could mean advising them to lose weight or get credit counseling.
“I’ve even offered vasectomies, and some men take me up on it,” she said. “If you’re going to have a baby every single year” without a way to care for them, that’s not responsible parenting, Buffett said.
Dang. Doris Buffett doesn't mess around.
Check out the full article here. It's worth the read.