Warren Buffett on the current state of philanthropy and raising money for on an emotional basis.
Buffets View On Philanthropy And Raising Money For On An Emotional Basis
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Well I'll be out this week actually going to Coca-Cola me not flying out to Seattle and then talking to the United Way group other than Seattle United Way raises more per capita I believe than any of the way in the country. And Bill Gates will be there. We're talking jointly. His mother was very active and united way. But Bill was going to give away over a billion dollars a year and a lot more later on. But right now a billion and. It's very interesting. I mean he's very rational about it and he's very informed. In fact he got somebody I think his primary adviser in the medical field as a fellow was with the CDC. In Atlanta and Bill Reed's 15 books a month on this. I mean he is he can just absorb it. I wouldn't be able to get it that fast but he just says with a billion dollars he wants to save as many lives per year as he can. So how did he get that is objective he's just as much a metric of his of his foundation as some other metric return on capital might be for a business. And he says I'm going to spend a billion dollars a year on many. How many lives can be safer. So he's gotten very heavily into vaccines and AIDS in Africa a number of things that it's very rational. I personally think. All. Ninety nine point something percent of my. Net Worth will go to our foundation after. The latter. My wife and I die. I mean it's all going to go to Foundation. As far as I'm concerned I got a free society is going to go to society. I've written a letter. To my trustees and I've got very few trustees. You've got a whole bunch of trustees in my view. They just homogenise themselves down to sort of the lowest common denominator because if 30 people in a room and prestigious people but they'll all have their particular alma mater they'll all have their particular hospital and it will become a big trade off game. You don't like Congress. So. I have very few people and I don't give them anything specific because I tell them their judgment above ground will be better than my instruction from six feet underground. I don't like to think that but is true. So I tell them to look the society are the ones.
That don't have an actual funding constituency you know or are just damned intractable and very difficult to solve. So I don't I am not going to.
Haunt them at all if they spend big money on some terribly important problem and they fail because they're taking on tough problems when I buy businesses. I'm buying easy businesses. The reason the big problems of society are big problems is that they're damn tough to solve. So they are there swinging at bad bitches. I'm swinging at easy pitches and business but they're swinging it. They have to swing at bad pitches. But I tell him I want him to try and do it and if they fail it doesn't bother me at all. I tell them if they give a million bucks here and a million bucks there and a million bucks there they're not going to sleep because I'm going to be haunting them. I'm going to come back every day. I do not want the eyedropper approach used of philanthropy. But I want them to use their judgment to look at important problems that do not have a natural funding constituency. You know the government is going to fund it fight it. I mean they should be funding important problems but we don't need to do it. The the growth of private philanthropy in my opinion is to fund things that don't have that natural constituency and that's what Bill is doing. There isn't and there are a bunch of people around that you can make an emotional appeal to to. Make vaccines available to millions and millions of kids around the world it just it doesn't tug at anybody's heart strings you can name buildings after them. I mean it just isn't the sort of thing that you can raise money for an emotional basis and there's nothing wrong with raising money on our emotional basis. But. That is a problem that will get solved by a funding constituent that's responding to that. But Bill is responding to what in his mind is. Is the important thing which is saving lives and he doesn't care whether he gets his name on a building or whether anything happens or whether anybody knows about it. I mean he.