NEW YORK — Warren Buffett, the second-richest person in the United States, made his largest single charitable contribution ever when he donated $2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The chairman and chief executive officer of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. gave 16.6 million Class B shares Monday in an annual gift to the foundation, where he is a trustee, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday. The donation beat last year’s record gift of $2 billion, when he gave 17.5 million shares. The stock has gained 8.8 percent this year through the close of trading yesterday to $128.98.
Buffett, 83, has vowed through the Giving Pledge initiative to give away most of his net worth, which is more than $60 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, a daily ranking of the world’s wealthiest people. Along with Microsoft co-founder Gates, the world’s richest man, he has urged other ultra-wealthy people to give away their money.
“I will give 99 percent, but the other 1 percent is way more than enough,” Buffett said June 9 at the Edison Electric Institute annual convention in Las Vegas. “I have never given a dollar that caused me to give up something I wanted to buy.”
Most of Buffett’s donated money goes to the Gates Foundation, which focuses on hunger, poverty and education. He earmarked 10 million Class B Berkshire shares for the Seattle- based charity in 2006 and gives 5 percent of the remaining total each year. The shares were split 50-1 in 2010.
Supporting important causes can be easy to forget amid the hustle and bustle of shopping during the holiday season. Luckily, there’s an easy way to give back to those in need while you find the gifts you need — various companies and websites do the legwork for you.
Companies like TOMS and Warby Parker have become known for one-for-one deals — donating a pair of shoes or eyeglasses for every pair sold — but they’re not the only ones with gifts that give back. There are several places around the web that benefit others in many ways, whether it’s by supporting impoverished artisans, providing clothes to babies who need them or curating the many products that make a difference.
The Huffington Post founder talks about how the development of online tools has changed giving back.
Arianna Huffington is the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of 13 books including biographies of Picasso and Maria Callas, a political satire, and several scathing political commentaries. In 1998, she famously changed her political affiliation from conservative to liberal, underscoring her commitment to meaningful political engagement beyond bipartisan entrenchment. She’s a vocal supporter of numerous social good causes and a proponent of sleep, and she serves on the boards of A Place Called Home, El Pais, and the Committee to Protect Journalists–she’s also got a great accent…
Co.Exist:In your Co.Exist article The Rise of Empathy in America” you said that “service is in the zeitgeist.” What did you mean by that? How has social media helped create this zeitgeist?
We are seeing the manifestations of the “epic shift” that Jeremy Rifkin wrote about in his 2010 book The Empathic Civilization: the growing realization by individuals, businesses, and advertisers that there’s much to be said for appealing to consumers’ better instincts, and engaging them with something other than materialism, sex, money, and self-interest. People are hungry for meaning and a life lived as something more than just consumers. They want to play a role in the life of their communities and their country and make a difference in the lives of others.
And it’s not a coincidence that this trend is escalating at the same time social media have risen to the forefront in the worlds of both marketing and activism. Social media allow like-minded people to coalesce, and have increased the ability of companies to tap into their customers’ humanity. But there’s a twist: While companies want to use social media to tap into this and because it does a lot of their outreach for them, it also requires something more of the companies that enter the social space. There’s a much higher bar for engagement with social media and, once in, a company can no longer easily hide behind a glossy, expensively photographed ad campaign.
You’re an outspoken champion of causes you believe in and social media is the megaphone for your efforts. When did you first realize the impact you could make using social media?
Well, first, social media are a means, not an end. And when it comes to championing causes, social media can be a valuable tool for sharing your values and your causes. But calling it a megaphone isn’t quite right, because that implies one-way communication, when the essence of social media is their potential to start conversations and make connections. On a daily basis, I’m invited to media conferences filled with panels devoted to social media and how to use social tools to amplify a message. But very few panels are asking what the hell is the message. “We are in great haste,” wrote Thoreau in 1854, “to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”
Every day has its reminders of social media’s impact, but some stand out. I remember visiting Greece last year, at a time when protesters were gathering in Syntagma Square, across from the Greek parliament. Like the others around the world, the Greek protests were fueled by social media, including a protest-themed Facebook page that collected more than 152,000 “likes,” but it was amazing to see just how closely interconnected the social media campaigns were with good old face-to-face interaction. The social media engagement was mirrored by physical engagement, and everywhere I went I was stunned to find that everyone–waiters, taxi drivers, storekeepers, salespeople, anybody sitting next to you at dinner–was talking about the same thing. Social media can be used for mindless escape, or for the opposite, for connection and meaning. Click here to read the full article on Fast Company Co.Exist
George Lucas introduced the world to Star Wars back in 1977, and he profited handsomely from it. Now, after selling the mega-franchise to Disney for $4.05 billion, Lucas is preparing to give back in a big way.
In a statement released to The Hollywood Reporter, a Lucasfilm spokesperson said that once the sale is final, the Hollywood billionaire will donate most of the haul to charity: ”George Lucas has expressed his intention, in the event the deal closes, to donate the majority of the proceeds to his philanthropic endeavors.”
The move isn’t a complete surprise (although the sale may have been). Lucas signed on to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett‘s Giving Pledge back in July of 2010, promising to give at least half of his wealth away by the time of his death.
These companies provide technological solutions for non-profits, give fledgling startups a place to work and donate to charity every time a song is downloaded. While the companies are diverse, they are all on a mission to change our lives for the better and improve society…