I remember the year that Warren Buffett announced that he was leaving the entirety of his fortune to charity. I remember thinking that his action made him a no brainer for at the very least Time's person of the year. Nope. Giving $50 billion or whatever it ends up being to the benefit of humanity didn't make the list.
Here are the last 4 Time Person of the Year Winners:
As always, Buffett was wiser than we knew. It isn't just the cash that the world will benefit from. It is also the example that he set, and now the fact that he is actively pushing for other billionaires to do the same thing.
I read this morning the following from Dow Jones:
"Chairman Larry Ellison will join movie director George Lucas and 38 other billionaires who are following a call made in June by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to pledge the majority of their wealth to charity.The trio will announce that 40 of America's wealthiest individuals and families, from Microsoft Corp.(MSFT) co-founder Paul G. Allen to hotel mogul Barron Hilton have signed on to the "Giving Pledge," an invitation Buffett and the Gates' extended in June for America's wealthiest families to publicly commit to giving away at least half of their wealth to charity within their lifetimes or after their deaths. The pledge stemmed from a series of dinners the two men held for the nation's billionaires over the past year to discuss the effects of the recession on philanthropy.
"Until now, I have done this giving quietly--because I have long believed that charitable giving is a personal and private matter," wrote Ellison in a public letter on the Giving Pledge's website.
"So why am I going public now? Warren Buffett personally asked me to write this letter because he said I would be 'setting an example' and 'influencing others' to give," Ellison wrote. "I hope he's right."
Other billionaires on the list, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, had previously stated their plans to give away the majority of their wealth to charity but said calling attention to their plans will encourage others to follow suit. "
There are many people who have been more giving of their time, their lives and their efforts. But it is hard to imagine one person who is going to have more impact on society (for the positive) than Buffett as he pushes for hundreds of billions of dollars to be given to worthy causes instead of to the Paris Hiltons of the world.
Not that Warren needs any more recognition, but I hope he gets it for this simply because it might influence even more people to think the same way about giving back.