Warren Buffett's Pocket-Emptying Earns Him a New Honor

He's No. 1 in 'Chronicle of Philanthropy' rankings of charity donations, with a $541.5M gift
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 3, 2024 8:49 AM CST
Buffett Tops List of Biggest Donations With $541.5M Doozy
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is seen in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 4, 2019.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual list of the biggest charitable donations from individuals or their foundations totaled more than $3.5 billion in 2023. Four universities received big gifts in 2023, along with four scientific research institutes and a health care system. The other gifts went to a family foundation and a racial justice group. The list has 11 gifts due to ties. Eight of the donors are multibillionaires, and their combined net worth is $305.1 billion. Topping the list is a gift from investment guru Warren Buffett, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at roughly $119 billion, per the AP. He gave 1.5 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class B stock valued at $541.5 million to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named for his first wife, who died in 2004.

Buffett created the grantmaker in 1964 to manage the family's charitable giving, and it remains a family affair. Two of his three children serve on its board, and it's led by his former son-in-law. The foundation primarily backs women's reproductive health. It also provides college scholarships for students in Nebraska, where the family is from. Buffett's gift is followed on the list by a donation from the mathematician and hedge fund founder James Simons and his wife, Marilyn. The couple gave $500 million through their Simons Foundation to the State University of New York at Stony Brook to support the university's endowment and to boost scholarships, professorships, research, and clinical care.

Tying for third on the list is a contribution from Ross Brown, the founder of Cryogenic Industries, an industrial equipment manufacturer. In November, Brown gave the biggest gift to science in 2023 when he pledged $400 million to the California Institute of Technology. The gift will be fulfilled through his family foundation and a donor-advised fund; the money will be used to launch the Brown Institute for Basic Sciences. The Chronicle's annual rankings are based on the 10 biggest publicly announced gifts. The tally doesn't include contributions of artwork or gifts from anonymous donors. In March, the Chronicle will unveil its annual ranking of the 50 biggest donors, a list based on philanthropists' total contributions in 2023 rather than individual gifts. Much more here, including the others who made the top 11.

(More philanthropy stories.)

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