Elsewhere online
August 03, 2007

How Warren Buffett Handles Donation Pleas From Individuals

Warren Buffett receives thousands of letters from people who ask for money for a range of reasons, such as getting a new glass eye or paying legal fees from custody suits, and each one gets forwarded to his sister, Doris, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Ms. Buffett runs the Sunshine Lady Foundation, which has given more than $1.4-million to more than 300 letter writers. The average gift is $4,800. So far, she has received more than 3,000 letters from her brother, who transferred $5-million in Berkshire Hathaway stock to his sister’s foundation.

The foundation is unusual because it supports individuals, unlike most grant makers. The Internal Revenue Service has strict rules on grants to individuals to make sure that the money is used for legitimate charitable purposes.

Ms. Buffett personally calls letter writers she is interested in helping and even doles out stern bits of advice on financial responsibility.

Mr. Buffett says his sister is more charitable than he is, adding, “She identifies with the underdog. I do it in a wholesale way, but not on a one-on-one basis. She really wants to know their stories.”

Ms. Buffett’s foundation also makes grants to encourage college students to learn about philanthropy, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in a recent article.

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