On November 21, renowned investor Warren E. Buffett made a significant philanthropic move by converting 1,600 A shares into 2,400,000 B shares. The purpose behind this strategic maneuver was to donate these B shares to four family foundations, continuing his longstanding tradition of charitable giving. The breakdown of the donations includes 1,500,000 shares to The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, and 300,000 shares each to The Sherwood Foundation, The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and NoVo Foundation. These generous contributions have been officially delivered as of today.
In a heartfelt message to his fellow shareholders, Mr. Buffett reflected on the recurring nature of these donations, noting their similarity to those made during the previous Thanksgiving. These contributions supplement the lifetime pledges he made in 2006, outlining various conditions that are consistently met by the recipients, as detailed on berkshirehathaway.com.
Buffett, now 93 years old, expressed amazement at the fact that his three children are between 65 and 70 years old. Over the years, their respective foundations have disbursed substantial sums, often supporting different causes. One common belief shared by the Buffett family is a skepticism toward dynastic wealth, despite its legality and prevalence worldwide. They acknowledge that wealth, in itself, does not guarantee wisdom or virtue. Emphasizing their faith in the positive impact of capitalism, despite its flaws, they celebrate the opportunities the United States has afforded them.
Buffett’s three children serve as both executors of his current will and trustees of the charitable trust set to receive 99%-plus of his wealth upon his demise. Although unprepared for this responsibility in 2006, they are now fully equipped to manage this significant philanthropic legacy. The testamentary trust, designed to be self-liquidating after a decade, will operate with a lean staff and be funded, to the extent possible, by Berkshire shares.
In acknowledging the inevitability of human errors within large organizations, public or private, Buffett expressed confidence in Berkshire’s ability to recognize and rectify mistakes. He assured shareholders that the company is well-positioned with the right CEO and Board of Directors to ensure its enduring success.
Looking ahead, Buffett stressed the importance of maintaining Berkshire’s distinctive characteristics and behavior. While his substantial holdings will provide short-term support, he emphasized that Berkshire will ultimately earn the reputation it deserves. Anticipating changes in laws related to philanthropy, he emphasized the need for a broad charter for the testamentary trust and the importance of wise trustees guiding its operations.
In a move that reflects transparency and openness, Buffett outlined his posthumous plans, assuring that the disposition of his assets will be an open book. Rejecting elaborate trusts or foreign entities, he opted for a simple will that will be available for public inspection at the Douglas County Courthouse.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Buffett expressed gratitude for the opportunities life has afforded him and extended warm wishes to all shareholders, hoping for health and happiness for them and their families. This latest act of generosity continues to expand Warren Buffett’s legacy as not only a financial wizard but also a philanthropist committed to making a positive impact on the world.
© 2023 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.