Buffett gifts to foundations total a record $2.6 billion

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Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013 12:00 am

Charities run by Warren Buffett's three adult children got big endorsements Monday when he donated $140 million to each, more than doubling his usual annual contribution because he's pleased with their work.

Beneficiaries will include at-risk preschool children in Nebraska, impoverished farmers in Africa, girls and women threatened with violence and people helped by a wide range of social causes supported by the foundations headed by Howard, Susan and Peter Buffett.

The contributions were part of a record $2.63 billion Warren Buffett donated to five foundations, surpassing the $2.17 billion he donated in pre-recession 2008.

Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said Buffett also gave shares worth $2 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $200 million to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named after his late wife and controlled by the Buffett family.

Buffett contributions

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Foundation 2013 shares Class B Value (000s) @ $115 each 7-year total
Bill and Melinda Gates 17,458,431 $2,007,720 $13 billion
Susan Thompson Buffett 1,745,843 $200,772 $1.3 billion
Howard G. Buffett 1,222,085 $140,540 $525 million
Novo (Peter Buffett) 1,222,085 $140,540 $525 million
Sherwood (Susan Buffett) 1,222,085 $140,540 $525 million
Total   $2,630,112 $15.9 billion

Source: Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Buffett donates shares of Berkshire stock to the five foundations each July according to a formula he set out in 2006. He raised his pledge last year for the children's foundations, saying, “You have exceeded my high expectations. Your mother would be as proud of you as I am. I see her influence in what you are accomplishing.”

Those added shares plus a 30 percent rise in the price of Berkshire shares over the past year pushed the 2013 total beyond last year's $1.83 billion. It's not quite double the low point for Buffett's contribution plan, $1.5 billion in recession-battered 2009.

Buffett also said in a securities filing Monday that he gave about $12.5 million worth of stock to other charities or foundations in seven donations between January and June. The filing did not name the charities, which received between $115,000 and $5 million in shares.

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His charitable donations have reduced his percentage ownership of Berkshire from 31 percent in 2006 to about 20 percent now. He is chairman and CEO of the Omaha-based conglomerate and still considered its controlling shareholder, with stock worth about $58 billion at the current price.

Last year Buffett donated about $60 million in stock to each of the children's foundations. The three have said they would use the added money — $80 million each this year — to do more for causes they have adopted over the past several years, rather than striking out into new areas.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation focuses on agricultural assistance in developing countries and aiding refugees and other people in poverty.

The Sherwood Foundation, headed by Susan Buffett, focuses on early childhood education, K-12 public schools, anti-poverty programs and other efforts, focused especially in Omaha.

The Novo Foundation, headed by Peter and his wife, Jennifer, works on empowering girls and women, preventing violence and exploitation and supporting efforts at social and emotional learning and socially responsible communities.

The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation supports humanitarian programs, college scholarships and other causes.

The Gates Foundation works to eliminate disease and poverty worldwide and to improve U.S. education.

The Omaha World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

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