Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Warren Buffett discusses philanthropy

In "A Conversation with Warren Buffett", long time Buffett chronicler and friend Carol Loomis talks with the billionaire investor about his recent philanthropic funding of the Gates Foundation and his philosophy on giving.

Buffett's businesslike approach to all endeavors is well noted, and his ideas on philanthropy have shown no departure from this personality streak. He is probably one of the early proponents of the now fashionable view that charitable giving should be judged by indicators of effectiveness. There should concrete terms laid out for measuring the efficiency of charitable organizations and return on money donated.

In Roger Lowenstein's 1995 biography, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, the author concluded that Buffett's charitable interests were "aimed at alleviating or preventing future sources of grief, such as a future war or a future oversupply of people" (Buffett was long concerned with problems arising out of overpopulation). Does Buffett's backing of the Gates Foundation signal his interest in spending resources to curb current suffering?