SAN FRANCISCO — Susan Thompson Buffett’s favorite charity will get a $2,679,001 boost from the latest high bidder to have lunch with Warren Buffett.
The Glide Foundation’s annual auction this week brought in six bidders, concluding Friday evening on eBay’s charity auction.
The bid fell $777,788 short of the previous record amount of $3,456,789 last year.
“You can’t sneeze at that,” Glide co-founder Janice Mirikitani said in an interview following a phone call with the winning bidder, a man who has asked to remain anonymous.
She and co-founder the Rev. Cecil Williams, her husband, said Glide’s $18 million annual budget for its anti-poverty programs comes from individual and corporate donors, government support and interest from reserves.
Since it began in 2000, the “power lunch” auction winners have contributed about $26 million to the Glide Foundation.
Susan Buffett, who died in 2004, conceived of the lunch auction as a fundraiser for Glide, a group she supported for years after moving to San Francisco.
Mirikitani said social programs can’t count on government support to continue, so they must be diverse in their fundraising.
“The government is fickle,” she said.
Mirikitani said Glide’s programs attracted Susan Buffett because they help marginalized people with principles of inclusive love.
But Mirikitani said Buffett has cautioned Glide not to count on the annual auction or any other single source of financial support.
Williams said Buffett has maintained a relationship with Glide over the years.
“When he commits himself to something, you can rest assured that he will stand by it,” Williams said.
Williams said Buffett’s support over the years has been an important endorsement of Glide’s programs and has helped attract other donors.
Susan Buffett talked her husband into the annual event, which allows the winner to bring seven friends and, if he or she wants, dine with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York City.
As the auction wound down Friday evening, about 300 Glide clients, staffers, community leaders and guests celebrated at a gathering at the Fillmore Heritage Center in San Francisco.
The 35-voice Glide choir, with a band and three-piece horn section, provided entertainment before the auction ended.
In a video, Buffett praised Glide’s programs and said, “There’s nobody I admire more than Cecil.”
EBay CEO Devin Wenig also spoke to the group, pledging continued support for the auction. EBay waived its fees for the event.
Charity auctions through eBay have raised $725 million in recent years, Wenig said.