Like Buffett, each relies on tiny staffs. And just like their father invests only in businesses he understands, they restrict their giving to their targeted projects.
Warren Buffett doesn’t direct how the foundations created by Susie, Howard and Peter Buffett spend the estimated $2.6 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock they’ll receive, but his children seem to have absorbed his philosophy.
“I think the only pressure I feel from him is making sure we’re smart about how we spend the money,” said Howard Buffett. “He’s had no influence on where we give money, but he’s had a big influence on how we go about it.”
Buffett’s children have focused on different topics, reflecting their divergent interests.
Howard Buffett is helping farmers in impoverished nations produce more to reduce world hunger. Susie Buffett is strengthening early childhood education and looking for ways to reduce teen pregnancy. And Peter Buffett wants to empower women and girls worldwide through education, collaboration and economic development to end violence against women.
“We’re given this amazing opportunity to try and make change where we can,” Peter Buffett said. “And being our father’s children, we don’t think small.”
The Buffett children have all been running foundations their parents set up for them since the late 1990s, but they had to dramatically increase their giving after 2006 when Warren Buffett announced his overall giving plan and the children received their first annual gift of stock worth roughly $65 million to each of them.
They’ll have to ramp up their giving again because Buffett’s annual gifts of Berkshire Hathaway stock will increase to roughly $100 million to $125 million to each child next summer.
Although his children’s foundations will each eventually receive stock worth about $2.6 billion, their charitable work is still overshadowed by their dad’s main pledge to give the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation stock worth more than $44 billion.