After the death of his wife Susan in 2006, Warren Buffett donated the bulk of his fortune to five different charities around the globe. Among those five charities was the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which focuses on world issues including education, world health, and poverty. According to the foundation, the total donated sum was $30 billion.
It has been ten years since Buffett’s tremendous gift, and in December, Buffett wrote to Bill and Melinda Gates and asked them to reflect on their foundation in this year’s annual letter. In his letter, he states that reflection is often the best way to help see a clear way forward, and taking the time to review how to measure success for the foundation and what progress is made will greatly help people better understand the issues and the importance of the work.
The letter itself, which you can read in its entirety here, is an 11-page, 5,000 word letter with plenty of illustrations and diagrams to help explain the poverty, education, illness, and health issues facing the world. The letter outlines the progress that the world—not just the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—has made in various areas including preventing the death of children, helping provide contraceptives for women, and other health and social issues.
While the letter is technically addressed to Warren Buffett, the founders are careful to point out that it is the generosity of more than just Warren Buffett that makes such things possible. Of course, the $30 billion that he donated helped push the Foundation forward and helped make some big changes, but it takes more than one or even three people to make changes.
The biggest takeaway from this stunning letter is that despite the dramatic political upheavals going on in the United States and United Kingdom, there are other important issues at work in the world which deserve our attention.
According to the letter, since 1990, the lives of around 122 million children were saved due to the improvements in poor countries. In the letter, Bill Gates writes directly to his friend and says, “Warren, you’ve said ‘price is what you pay, value is what you get.’ There is no greater value than this.”
To take a look at the letter and see exactly the kind of philanthropy that Warren Buffett routinely supports, hop over to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation page and read the letter for yourself, or perhaps even donate to UNICEF yourself and join Buffett and the billions of others who are working to help improve lives.