Warren Buffett’s children are well at work helping him give away a good portion of his $47 billion fortune. Their approach to donating this money is very similar to the way their father made all of that money to begin with.
Just like Buffett himself, each of his children have a tiny staff to work with. And they only appear to donate the money to very specific projects that they understand, and this is just like how their father buys stocks and businesses.
One thing is for certain. Warren Buffett has no say in the way that Peter, Howard and Susie’s foundations will use the $2.6 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock that they will receive. But it is very evident that his children have seemed to absorb Warren’s personal philosophy.
“I think the only pressure I feel from him is making sure we’re smart about how we spend the money,” noted Howard Buffett. “He’s had no influence on where we give money, but he’s had a big influence on how we go about it.”
It’s important to note that Warren Buffett’s children have focused on many different outlets for their charities, and this is very reflective of their personal interests.
Howard Buffett has made the effort of helping farmers in nations that are impoverished, by giving them the ability to produce more in an effort to reduce world hunger. Susie Buffett is trying to help reduce teen pregnancy, and she is also looking to strengthen the early education of children. Lastly, Peter Buffett is making an effort to empower girls and women through quality education, as well as economic development, collaboration and a desire to put an end to violence against women.
“We’re given this amazing opportunity to try and make change where we can,” said Peter Buffett. “And being our father’s children, we don’t think small.”
Each of the Buffett children has been running different foundations set up by their parents since the late 1990s. But they were capable of increasing their giving in a dramatic way once 2006 hit, and their father made the announcement of his overall plan of philanthropy. Each of his children received their first $65 million worth of stock at this time to use toward their philanthropic endeavors.
The Buffett children better be prepared to do some more giving, because the annual gift of the Berkshire Hathaway stock that they receive will roughly go to about $100 million-$125 million for each child as of next summer.
The overall amount that each children’s foundations will receive in Berkshire Hathaway stock is going to be about $2.6 billion. But it must be noted that any charitable work that they do is very much overshadowed by the pledge that their father gave to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s going to give them stock worth nearly $44 billion.
The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which is the foundation created by Warren Buffett’s first wife, who passed away in 2004, will receive nearly $4.4 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock. The charitable organization is known to try and minimize the spread of nuclear weapons, and it also promotes the reproductive health in women.
All of the Buffett children are very happy that their father continuously encouraged them to take risks. This gives them the ability to tackle important issues without being afraid to do so. They also mentioned that they were happy that their parents took it upon themselves to set up each child with their own separate Foundation, because this gives them the ability to go their own way and support the programs that they like the most.
It’s not uncommon for Howard Buffett to travel to many of the poverty-stricken areas around the world, where he speaks with farmers and also has the ability to overlook the different projects that his foundation is funding. He often refuses to tell his father exactly where he’s going when he makes these trips, because the 57 year old son of the Oracle of Omaha doesn’t want his father worrying about him while he travels to some of these dangerous destinations. An example would be the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Howard Buffett makes it a point to take a close look at the challenges of the many farmers that he tries to help, since he can relate to them because he is a farmer of soybeans and corn in the state of Illinois. This reminds him of his mother, who always made it a point to try and help everyone in need that she came across.
“It’s very hard for me to walk into those circumstances and not try to do something,” Howard said.
Howard Buffett also makes an effort to focus his giving in a way that will allow the recipients to continue on once his grant money is no longer available. He does not try to bring expensive projects like irrigation and hybrid seeds into areas where the farmers will not eventually be able to afford them on their own.
Warren Buffett actually manages one of the world’s largest conglomerates, and he does it with a very tiny staff of only two dozen people at their headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. Peter, Howard and Susie each only have a staff of half that amount for the foundations that they currently run.
Peter Buffett also mentions that the Buffett children follow the same beliefs as their father, and like to limit their charitable giving to areas that they understand. This is very similar to the way that their father invests.
“You want to be as focused on an end goal as you can be,” said Peter Buffett. “In a very practical way, it helps to say no.”
Peter Buffett is a composer and a musician, but his charitable passion is helping girls and women throughout the world in a variety of different ways. It’s his hope that the girls in impoverished areas will gain access to better educational resources, and because of this they will be able to participate more in their community and become more responsible decision-makers.
The NoVo Foundation run by Peter Buffett also supports programs in the US schools which teach kids the right kind of emotional and social skills that they need, as well as sound decision-making skills.
Susie Buffett is very happy to try and solve some of the human problems that can get quite messy, that are also very difficult to solve. This is very similar to what her mom did.
“That comes directly from my childhood. It is what I watched my mother do,” said the 59 year old Susie Buffett. “She had me in the car with her at a very early age in the housing projects and deep in the community. She was very involved personally. It was not a check writing thing. It was her being there.”
Susie Buffett has been very interested in education throughout her life, but she chose to focus the money that her foundation gave to education in early childhood. She made this decision because she asked the superintendent of schools in Omaha where she would be able to make the biggest difference.
Since Susie Buffett is currently the only child of Warren Buffett living in Omaha, she also decided to put her Sherwood Foundation funds to work with other nonprofits in Omaha. This is a great effort to help make the city a better place, and also help the low-income neighborhoods as well.
It’s good to know that Warren Buffett supports the work of his children, and he’s proved that by increasing the amount of money he is going to give each of their foundations. He also regularly praises their philanthropy.
“Everything has impressed me,” said Buffett. “They’re each doing things they have a special interest in which they have some special abilities too. And they work very hard at it.”