The most significant charitable donation Warren Buffett has ever made is his $37 billion pledge to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This donation, originally pledged in 2006, will take effect upon his death, as he has directed in his will. Individual contributions from Buffett represent some of the largest single charity contributions in history.

Key Takeaways

  • Warren Buffett pledged in 2006 to give $37 billion in stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to be used for health and education purposes.
  • The donations are being made in annual installments that will be completed 10 years after his estate is settled.
  • Each year, Buffett donates a chunk of his Berkshire Hathaway A shares, that are then converted into B shares and given to the foundation.
  • He is also donating to a non-profit that he runs in the name of his late first wife, and to non-profits run by his three children. His children will also receive cash inheritances.
  • His 2019 donations totaled $3.6 billion and his total donations since 2006 are $34 billion, representing 45% of what he pledged at the time.

Warren Buffett's Philanthropic Efforts

His estate consists of Berkshire Hathaway stock that he plans on contributing directly to the foundation and cash that he is leaving for his heirs to keep invested in index funds. Buffett's contribution has given him profound influence in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and he maintains active involvement in the organization. Buffett has a strong interest in philanthropy and in solving global health and educational problems. This interest led him to actively promote the foundation and encourage others to contribute, especially those with high-value estates.

Warren Buffett's heirs will receive significantly smaller amounts of cash from the estate, and some Berkshire Hathaway stock. Buffett encourages his children to follow his own values, including his work ethic and being active in philanthropy. Buffett believes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation effectively addresses the problems of global inequity in access to health care and education, including significant contributions to help these resources reach the world's poorest women and children. Much of what the foundation does is directed toward these issues. The foundation provides grants to other organizations and does direct research work to develop solutions in addition to its financial contributions. To Buffett, this organization is a wise investment of his estate.

Ultimately, all of Buffet's shares will be donated through annual gifts, set to complete 10 years after the settling of his estate.

$3.6 billion

The amount in company stock Warren Buffett donated to five charities in July 2019, the billionaire's largest contribution yet.

Latest Round of Donations

On July 1, 2019, Berkshire Hathaway released a press release announcing that Warren Buffett has donated roughly $3.6 billion of company stock to five charities, which is the billionaire's largest contribution yet. Buffett's 14th annual donation consisted of 16.875 million Class B shares (BRK.B) of the company. Shares closed at $214.62 that same day. 

Notably, 11,250 of the Class A shares (BRK.A) Buffett held were converted into 16.875 million Class B shares. With this current donation, about 45% of Buffett's 2006 holdings have now been donated to five foundations, for a total of $34 billion. Donations were made to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Buffett's own foundation, named for his late first wife Susan, as well as charities run by his three children.