"I am not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth, particularly when the alternative is 6 billion people having much poorer hands in life than we have."Gates said he plans in July 2008 to step down from his day-to-day Microsoft role to focus on his foundation, one of the goals of which is to improve access to technology in U.S. public libraries. Buffett pledged 10 million Berkshire Class B shares to the Gates Foundation. He also pledged 2.05 million Class B shares to foundations in the name of his late wife, Susan, who died in 2004, and for his three children, Susie, Howard and Peter. The total donations of about $37.1 billion amount to roughly 85% of Buffett's net worth, and constitute the largest single act of U.S. charitable giving ever. Buffett made the donations fewer than four months after he said Berkshire's board had identified a successor for him. Gifts to the Gates Foundation will be made in stages, and are conditioned on money being distributed the year it is donated. The foundation gave away $1.36 billion in 2005, so Buffett's first gift of $1.5 billion, in July, may double its spending.
"This is his life's work. Now that the money is going to be as much Warren's as the money my job helped generate, it's almost scary."Time magazine last year named the Gateses and Irish singer Bono of the band U2 its "Persons of the Year" for 2005, citing their charitable and philanthropic pursuits.
"I've watched Bill and Melinda Gates for a number of years. It was clear that an outstanding mind with the right goals was focusing intensely with passion and heart on improving the lot of mankind."Both Buffett and Gates emphasized the importance of keeping philanthropy separate from Berkshire's operations. Buffett's donations of Berkshire shares means the ultimate value of his gifts will be tied to the company's share price.
"I would be surprised, disappointed, if we can't manage Berkshire well enough so the increase on value, on average, (isn't) more than 5% a year."Berkshire owns large stakes in such blue-chip companies as American Express and Coca-Cola and owns some 50 businesses, including Dairy Queen ice cream, Fruit of the Loom underwear and Geico auto insurance. Berkshire shares have lagged the Standard & Poor 500 index over the last two years, but have far outgained the benchmark since Buffett took over Berkshire, then a struggling textile maker, in 1965. - Warren Buffett's Unprecedented Generosity - Buffett accelerates philanthropy with Gates gift - Washington Post - Forbes - Financial Times - MSNBC