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Warren Buffett has famously pledged to give away 99% of his money to charity. But who will get a piece of the fortune, currently estimated at around $66 billion? You could soon have the power to help decide.
Every year, a "small" chunk of the money--$1 to $2 million annually, which is peanuts to Buffett—is dished out to hundreds of individuals and organizations via the Sunshine Lady Foundation run by Doris Buffett, Warren's 88-year-old sister. As the Boston Globe reported, the Buffetts have received more than 22,000 letters asking for money over the past decade. Many of the requests come from regular people experiencing hard times—in desperate need of a new furnace, kids' clothing, medical bills, dentures, mortgage payments, even tombstones and funerals—and yes, the foundation is known to help them out.
"The money does not go directly to individuals; instead, Buffett and her volunteers buy the requested items and have them delivered, or send payments to mortgage companies, utilities, and other creditors," the Globe clarified.
Sifting through all of the requests obviously takes up a lot of time and effort, and Doris "Dodo" Buffett uses a team of volunteers to get it done. After recently relocating to the Boston area, Doris Buffett is currently seeking to beef up her volunteer ranks. And there's certainly plenty of cash to dole out.
“My brother is putting up the money, so we’re sort of limitless,” Buffett told the Globe. “He’s told me that any time I run out of money, all I have to do is call him.” She said that her volunteers must "have to have a heart somewhere,” and that to qualify you should be "very practical" and "not be judgmental.”
Appropriately, applications for the volunteer position of "letter reader" are not accepted electronically. A website lists the address where physical application letters should be sent, as well as other details.
Those who are accepted shouldn't expect to be chatting with Warren Buffett around the office water cooler. He is not directly involved in the operation, and said to the Globe of his sister, “I like to give away money wholesale and she likes to give away money retail.”
“I mean, she is genuinely interested in a guy who’s had his pickup truck stolen or whatever it may be," Warren Buffett said. "Through no fault of their own, they’ve been handed a bum deal in their life. And I empathize with those people, but I’m not going to spend my days working with them."