The Truth About The Future Of The Gates Foundation Without Warren Buffet

When Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were getting divorced, many people were surprised, while some worried about the fate of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The former couple announced in a statement that, "No changes to their roles or the organization [were] planned" (via USA Today), but experts had concern over the foundation's biggest donor, Warren Buffet.

In 2019 alone, Buffet contributed $2.7 billion, which accounted for 47% of all funds raised by the foundation that year, per USA Today. At that time, the billionaire had donated more than $29 billion (yes, with a "b") to the Gates Foundation, in addition to other philanthropic efforts. Less than two months after the Gates announced their divorce, Buffet made another announcement with the potential to disrupt the foundation.

Buffet had pledged in 2006 to give away 99% of his vast fortune to charity. He had also previously pledged to give an ample annual donation to the Gates Foundation, and on June 23, he announced a donation of $3.2 billion. Along with the generous contribution, Buffet said he would be stepping down as a trustee. "For years I have been a trustee – an inactive trustee at that — of only one recipient of my funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation," he wrote in a statement via Business Wire. "I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire's [Hathaway]."  How could the departure impact the future of the foundation?

Will Warren Buffet continue to contribute to the Gates Foundation?

Warren Buffet made it clear in his statement that his job as a philanthropist was not done, and that he was transitioning his role. "Please understand that these remarks are no swan song," the Berkshire CEO wrote in his announcement (via Business Wire). "But I'm clearly playing in a game that, for me, has moved past the fourth quarter into overtime." The renowned businessman shared how his late sister focused on hands-on "'retail' philanthropy" while he opted for a hands-off "wholesale" approach to charity.

Even though he would no longer have an active role within the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Buffet said his annual contributions would continue. "My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals," he wrote.

The CEO of the Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman, issued a statement on the foundation's website following Buffet's public announcement. "[Buffet] has also decided that it is the right time for him to step down from his role as trustee," Suzman wrote. "However, he is continuing his incredible financial support, and today's gift is his largest yet," Suzman noted. The foundation's CEO mentioned that he was working with Buffet, along with Bill and Melinda Gates, "to strengthen our governance to provide long-term stability," and that additional information would be provided in July. 

Even if Buffet is leaving his post, the money continues to flow in. For now.