Warren Buffett put on a challenge when he outlined his philanthropic vision at the beginning of this decade. “At the latest, the proceeds of all my Berkshire shares will be spent for philanthropic purposes in 10 years after my estate is liquidated,” he wrote in his letter “The giving pledge” in 2010. “Nothing will go to donations; the money is spent on real needs. “
That task – the wholesale gift of one of the greatest fortunes in history – has become more difficult. Although Buffett has
since ceded shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. valued at more than 30,000 million dollars at the time of donations, its wealth continues to rise.
Buffett, who turns 88 today, has an equity of 87.1 billion dollars, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, 86 percent more than at the time of the 2010 letter.
And he’s not the only one who wants to get rid of a mega fortune. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have said that their private foundation of the same name – the largest in the world –He will spend all his legacy within 20 years after his death.
A growing group of philanthropic billionaires are beginning to struggle with the problem. “The Giving Pledge” – a commitment by signatories to give away at least half of their assets – has brought together 184 of the world’s richest people and families, including Elon Musk of Tesla Inc., the co-founders of Airbnb Inc. and the developer Stephen Ross. Michael Bloomberg, the owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News, is also a signatory. With the US economy booming and the bull market showing few signs of declining, the value of those promises is only increasing.
“Many philanthropists think about their donations from one year to the next” instead of having a long-term vision, said Susan Wolf Ditkoff, partner and co-director of the philanthropic division of The Bridgespan Group.
While the stock market has historically had a return of 7 to 8 percent per year, “annual donations among the richest philanthropists do not come close to that figure, let alone contribute half of their wealth in their lives” , he pointed.
Even so, the public objectives that Buffett established are encouraging more philanthropists to think about what they have to do to achieve them. “The good news is that there are an increasing number of attractive places to invest in causes of social change,” Ditkoff said. “
It is good news for Buffett who seeks to spend his growing fortune. So far this week, it has added 1,300 million dollars to its net worth.