Gates Foundation
This year, as part of his annual pledge to eventually contribute 500 million shares of the Berkshire Hathaway Inc to the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, Warren Buffett recently donated nearly $2.2 billion worth of class B stocks in support of improving global health and embarking on a new challenge to assist U.S. education.

In 2010, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge, which rallied the world’s billionaires to donate at least half of their fortunes to charity. Since the pledge has been put into place, 154 affluent individuals have made the oath.

Gates acknowledges the possibility of failure in some projects, but remains optimistic, stating “we not only accept that [projects will fail] we expect it—because we think an essential role of philanthropy is to make bets on promising solutions that governments and businesses can’t afford to make.”

Bill and Melinda Gates are both optimistic about the future of the Foundation, which is aimed at alleviating extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries in addition to improving the failure of America’s education system.

According to a SEC document filed on Thursday, July 13, 2015, Buffett donated 14,968,423 shares of Class B Common Stock valued at $145.93 per share to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Buffett also donated 1,047,785 shares of Class B Common Stock to foundations owned by his three children: the Sherwood Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the NoVo Foundation.

Warren Buffett believes philanthropy is associated with taking risks and remains steadfast and patient whenever Berkshire investments bear no fruit. “If you succeed in everything you’re doing in charity, you’re attempting things that are too easy,” Warren Buffett declared in 2011.

The philanthropist also donated $215 million worth of stocks to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which is named after his late wife. The main objective of the Susan Thompson Buffett foundation is to provide scholarships for eligible recipients within the Nebraska region on a competitive basis.

Buffett has vowed to give away 99 percent of his wealth in support of charitable causes and innovative solutions to end global poverty. After over 10 years of donating to the Gates foundation as well as other nonprofit organizations, Buffett’s fortune is now estimated at approximately $65.6 billion.

Buffett’s recent donation to the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, when added to the other donations made over his lifetime, brings his total donations to more than $28.5 billion.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Finance Buzz

fight against poverty
In the fight against something as daunting as extreme poverty, success often gets buried under all of the staggering statistics. Looking at how far the world has come in the fight against extreme poverty involves observing what has been done and what is possible in the coming years. This lens makes it clear that the humanitarian efforts of thousands of people have made a very clear difference in the lives of millions exposed to poverty.

In 1990, the global poverty rate was at 36 percent, which decreased to 18 percent in 2010. This fulfilled a Millennium Challenge Goal to cut the global poverty rate in half, and it did so five years ahead of schedule. The call to action outlined in the Millennium Challenge Goals has inspired many to rally around the cause and make improvements.

In addition to the poverty rate changing, the number of children who die from preventable diseases every year has decreased by 30 percent in the past 15 years, indicating an improvement in the standards of living for thousands of children.

Education in developing countries has seen improvement with higher annual enrollment rates, which will see more apparent return in the future when these children are more prepared and qualified to support their families and contribute to a more stable society.

The future of the fight against poverty smacks of success, given that the fight maintains momentum. Were progress to continue at the current rate, or better yet, speed up, the goal of lifting one billion people out of poverty could be met between 2025 and 2030. Bill Gates posited that there could be almost no impoverished countries by 2035.

There are various initiatives being developed by various humanitarian organizations that show promise of success. In December of 2013, 46 countries all over the world stepped up to accelerate the fight against extreme poverty by committing to a composite $52 billion donation over a period of three years that will go directly to the International Development Association, a fund established by the World Bank to support the world’s poorest.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, Warren Buffett, Feed the Future — the list of people and organizations willing to help is endless. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. In a world that is more technologically capable than ever with the resources necessary to feed the whole world and the money to establish stable communities around the world, the fight against extreme poverty is more manageable.

The fight is not over, nor will it be an easy fight to win. Worldwide, there are nearly 1 billion people who survive on $1.25 or less every day. Proportionally compared to the world population, we are facing a smaller fraction, but it is still an overwhelming number. Keeping in mind the progress of the past and the promise of the future, the world can continue to successfully fight against extreme poverty.

– Maggie Wagner

Sources: The World Bank, MSNBC, The World Bank,
Photo: Konnect Africa

Within the Buffett family, usually Warren is the one making headlines for his charity and accomplishments. This time, though, his older sister Doris Buffett is stepping into the spotlight to put focus on her own charitable advances.

In 2011 Doris started the Learning by Giving Foundation. This foundation partnered with colleges across America to create philanthropy classes for students. The students learned the ins and outs of the philanthropy world and how to invest their money to make the biggest difference. At the end of the semester, each class had $10,000 from Learning by Giving to donate to the charities they believed were most deserving. Not only did this approach use money smartly to donate to great organizations, it taught young people skills that they couldn’t learn anywhere else.

Doris is now expanding on that idea by creating Giving with Purpose, a free online course open to anyone over the age of eighteen who wishes to learn more about the world of philanthropy. This six-week summer course is similar to the one taught in colleges, sponsored by Learning by Giving, taught by outstanding instructors, and providing the ability to give away money at the end of the course.

The class teaches people everything they need to know before donating, including aspects such as learning how to research what impact the charity has on the community and how the money is spent. The course will also feature several guest speakers who are leaders in the philanthropy world, such as baseball star Cal Ripkin Jr., ice cream leaders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and Doris and Warren Buffett themselves.

– Katie Brockman

Sources: Fortune, Learning by Giving