By Betty Liu and Andrew FryeBuffett Says Need for Charitable Donations Is Unlimited Watch Interview
Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Warren Buffett, who pledged the bulk of his fortune to philanthropy, said the need for charitable giving is unending.
“The demand is unlimited,” said Buffett, the chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in an interview on Bloomberg Television today. “There are so many people who have gotten short straws in life.”
Buffett, ranked the second-richest American by Forbes magazine, made the remarks in advance of a charity lunch with a group led by Courtenay Wolfe, the CEO of Salida Capital. The Toronto-based hedge fund won the right to send its leaders to dine with the billionaire investor with a $1.68 million winning bid in an auction last year.
Past auctions have raised a total of more than $5 million for the Glide Foundation, the San Francisco-based charity where Buffett’s late wife volunteered. The next auction, held at the online auction site run by EBay Inc., will be the tenth. Alan Stillman, the founder of Smith & Wollensky, donated $25,000 to Glide for the right to host the event at his restaurant this year.
Glide, founded in the 1960s by Reverend Cecil Williams, provides job training, medical care, counseling and other services for the homeless, the HIV-positive and victims of domestic violence, and provides free meals to the needy three times a day. The number of meals it served in increased 16 percent last year.
‘As Far as You Can’
“You really want to make your charitable dollar go as far as it can,” Buffett said. “When you get a proven quantity like Glide, and you get the people running it who you watch do it for 40 years and do it magnificently, they are the ones, in my view, to support.”
Wolfe and the other diners get to ask questions of Buffett, known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” over a steak lunch at Smith & Wollensky on Third Avenue in New York. Past auction winners include hedge-fund managers David Einhorn of New York-based Greenlight Capital Inc. and Zhao Danyang of Pureheart Asset Management Co. in Hong Kong.
“We will certainly be covering business topics,” Wolfe said. “At the same time, there are life topics and philanthropy and a lot of different things that we want to cover.”
Buffett, 79, transformed the company from a failing textile maker into an enterprise with businesses ranging from ice cream and underwear to power plants and corporate jet leasing. Berkshire has more than $100 billion in annual revenue.
In 2006, Buffett pledged 85 percent of his Berkshire holdings, a commitment valued at about $37 billion at the time, to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and charities of four of his family members. The Gates donation is being made in annual installments, and will continue after Buffett’s death. The charity, established by Gates and his wife, funds projects that combat disease and global poverty.
--With assistance from Jamie McGee and Joel Schectman in New York. Editors: Erik Holm, Dan Kraut
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