It’s Christmas in July for charities, as Warren Buffett has continued his annual tradition of making massive summertime charitable donations, this time to the tune of $2.86 billion.
According to SEC documents filed on Thursday, Buffett donated a total of 19,608,620 class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock to five separate charities. The big winner is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which received 14,968,423 shares worth an approximate $2.2 billion as of Wednesday’s close. As for the rest of the beneficiaries, Buffett decided to keep it in the family, so to speak. He gave 1,496,842 shares (~$215 million) to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named for his late wife, which focuses on family planning programs, and 1,047,785 shares (~$150 million) each to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, The Sherwood Foundation and the NoVo Foundation, which are run by his children Howard, Susan and Peter Buffett, respectively.
That the Gates foundation would be the main beneficiary of Buffett’s largesse is no surprise, as Buffett and Gates are two of the founders of the Giving Pledge, an informal agreement that urges billionaires to donate at least half of their fortunes to charity that has been signed by 154 people to this point.
Buffett, who has pledged to give away 99 percent of his wealth within ten years of his estate being settled, has made a habit of making large donations of Berkshire Hathaway stock in the month of July. Starting in 2006, he has typically given away around 5 percent of his shares annually. Buffett currently owns about 18 percent of Berkshire’s stock (though his voting power remains strong at about 32 percent), down from roughly 32 percent in 2006. Over the course of the last decade, Buffett has donated a total of around $24.3 billion to various charities, and his lifetime giving weighs in at about $28.5 billion.
Even after all of that, Buffett, who has run Berkshire Hathaway since 1965, is still believed to be the third richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $65.6 billion, according to Forbes. He narrowly edges out Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by about $1.3 billion, though he trails Bill Gates and Spanish retailing magnate Amancio Ortega. That list is set to change, however, with both Gates and Buffett pledging to give away the vast majorities of their respective fortunes. (Bezos is conspicuous in his absence from the list of signees of the Giving Pledge, where his fellow tech entrepreneurs are otherwise heavily represented.)