Warren Buffett donates again to the Gates Foundation but will cut the charity off after his death

OMAHA, Neb. — Investor Warren Buffett announced another $5.3 billion in charitable gifts Friday, but in a major shift of his longtime giving plan he said he plans to cut off donations to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation after his death and let his three children decide how to distribute the rest of his $128 billion fortune.

Buffett laid out his new plan for his estate in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. The 93-year-old billionaire who leads Berkshire Hathaway didn’t immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press on Friday about his plan that calls for Howard, Susie and Peter Buffett to unanimously agree where to give his Berkshire Hathaway stock after his death.

Buffett has given about $55 billion worth of Berkshire stock to five foundations since he outlined his giving plan in 2006, with the biggest share by far going to the Gates Foundation. The other four foundations are affiliated with his family, including the ones each of his children run.

“The Gates Foundation has no money coming after my death,” said Buffett, who left the Gates Foundation’s board in 2021 after Bill Gates, one of his best friends, announced he and Melinda French Gates were divorcing. French Gates left the Gates Foundation earlier this year.

In his initial pledge to the Gates Foundation in 2006, Buffett wrote that he planned to include the foundation in his will. “I will soon write a new will that will provide for a continuance of this commitment — by distribution of the remaining earmarked shares or in some other manner — after my death,” he wrote then, referring to the annual gifts of Berkshire Hathaway stock that he was pledging.

But Buffett said in a statement Friday that his original pledges are only good until his death.

Buffett will leave it up to his kids to decide what to do with his Berkshire stock, much like he does now when he lets the foundations decide how to use his gifts. He said they already know the goal of his giving.

“It should be used to help the people that haven’t been as lucky as we have been,” Buffett told the Journal. “There’s eight billion people in the world, and me and my kids, we’ve been in the luckiest 100th of 1% or something. There’s lots of ways to help people.”

Mark Suzman, CEO of the Gates Foundation, said in a statement that he appreciates Buffett’s generosity over the years.

“Warren Buffett has been exceedingly generous to the Gates Foundation through more than 18 years of contributions and advice,” Suzman said. “He has played an invaluable role in championing and shaping the foundation’s work to create a world where every person can live a healthy, productive life. We are deeply grateful for his most recent gift and contributions totaling approximately $43 billion to our work.”

The value of Buffett’s donations have grown with the steady rise in price of Berkshire’s stock, so the stock he has given away to date is already worth more than his entire fortune of $43 billion when he announced his plan. The conglomerate’s most widely traded Class B shares are up about 22% in the just past 12 months.

“Nothing extraordinary has occurred at Berkshire; a very long runway, simple but generally sound capital deployment, the American tailwind and compounding effects produced my current wealth,” Buffett said in a statement. “My will provides that more than 99% of my estate is destined for philanthropic usage.”

Buffett’s own Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation has been a major supporter of abortion rights over the years, but he has let his children and the Gates Foundation make their own decisions about how to distribute his gifts. Howard Buffett has given more than $500 million to help Ukraine since Russia invaded as part of his focus on helping war-torn regions.

Buffett also occasionally makes other gifts to unnamed charities but he hasn’t ever disclosed the details of those gifts.

Buffett will still own 207,963 Class A Berkshire shares and 2,586 Class B shares after giving away a little over 13 million Class B shares Friday. Because of the voting power of the Class A shares, Buffett continues to have the biggest say by far in the operations of the massive conglomerate based in Omaha, Nebraska that he leads as chairman and CEO. He hasn’t bought or sold any Berkshire shares in the past 18 years.

Buffett has said that one of his vice chairman, Greg Abel, who already oversees all of Berkshire’s non-insurance businesses, will take over as CEO after he is gone. Berkshire owns an eclectic assortment of manufacturing, retail and service businesses including BNSF railroad, several large utilities, Dairy Queen and Precision Castparts. Insurance companies, including Geico and General Reinsurance, are also a core part of Berkshire, and the company owns a huge stock portfolio dominated by iconic companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, American Express and Bank of America.

Buffett’s son Howard, who already serves on Berkshire’s board, is slated to become chairman after his father’s death, but Buffett’s children won’t play an active role in the day-to-day operations of the company.


Associated Press writer Thalia Beaty contributed to this report from New York.


For more AP coverage of Warren Buffett look here: https://apnews.com/hub/warren-buffett. For Berkshire Hathaway news, see here: https://apnews.com/hub/berkshire-hathaway-inc. Follow Josh Funk online at https://apnews.com/author/josh-funk,https://www.twitter.com/funkwrite and https://www.linkedin.com/in/funkwrite.

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