There is a lot to be said about Warren Buffett's announcement that most of his billions-of-dollars fortune will be given to charities, with particular focus on giving about $31 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And we hope his actions, as well as those of the Gateses, reverbate through billionaire and millionaire circles, because giving back to the world that made them rich makes sense - tax incentives or no. For instance, when Ted Turner donated $1 billion to the U.N. in stock, he said, "When I got my statement in January. I was worth $2.2 billion. Then I got another statement in August that said I was worth $3.2 billion. So I figure its only nine months' earnings, who cares?"
Buffett will start giving his money away to the Gates Foundation as well as four other charities set up by members of the Buffett family in a few days. He told reporters, "I'm not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth, particularly when 6 billion others have much poorer hands than we do in life." And while many of us can't make grand donations like Buffett or the Gateses, we can give smaller portions of our income to charity or do things like volunteer. For example, NY Cares is one of the city's biggest volunteer organizations and Volunteer Match is a good way to find out about volunteer opportunities.
You can watch video or listen to audio of the event at the Gates Foundation. The NY Sun notes the NYC-set meeting in an editorial (Buffett and the Gateses had a press conference at the NY Public Library), "John Jacob Astor, James Lenox, and Samuel Tilden would no doubt be smiling to know that the first thing the Sages of Omaha and Seattle did after announcing what looks to be the largest philanthropic transfer of wealth in history was to meet in New York at an institution that is one of the great successes of private philanthropy." And when the NY Times' David Pogue wrote about Bill Gates' decision to concentrate on philanthropy, his readers debated the good and bad of Gates.
Photograph of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett by Seth Wenig/AP