In June 2006, he announced a plan to give away his fortune to charity, with 83% of it going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He pledged about the equivalent of 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (worth approximately US$30.7 billion as of June 23, 2006), making it the largest charitable donation in history, and Buffett one of the leaders of philanthrocapitalism. The foundation will receive 5% of the total donation on an annualized basis each July, beginning in 2006. (Significantly, however, the pledge is conditional upon the foundation's giving away each year, beginning in 2009, an amount that is at least equal to the value of the entire previous year's gift from Buffett, in addition to 5% of the foundation's net assets.) Buffett also will join the board of directors of the Gates Foundation, although he does not plan to be actively involved in the foundation's investments.
This is a significant shift from previous statements Buffett has made, having stated that most of his fortune would pass to his Buffett Foundation.The bulk of the estate of his wife, valued at $2.6 billion, went to that foundation when she died in 2004. He also pledged $50-million to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, in Washington, where he has served as an adviser since 2002.
In 2006, he auctioned his 2001 Lincoln Town Car on eBay to raise money for Girls, Inc. In 2007, he auctioned a luncheon with himself that raised a final bid of $650,100 for the Glide Foundation which was won by Mohnish Pabrai and Guy Spier. On June 27, 2008, Zhao Danyang, a general manager at Pure Heart China Growth Investment Fund, won the 2008 5-day online "Power Lunch with Warren Buffett" charity auction with a bid of $2,110,100. Auction proceeds benefit the San Francisco Glide Foundation. The following year, executives from Toronto-based Salida Capital paid US$1.68 million to dine with Buffett. The June 9, 2012 auction for lunch with Buffett yielded a record figure of $3,456,789; the highest figure paid for lunch with the investor. The Glide auction's winners traditionally dine with Buffett at New York's Smith and Wollensky steak house. The restaurant donates at least $10,000 to Glide each year to host the auction lunch.
In a letter to Fortune Magazine's website in 2010 Buffett remarked:
My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well... I've worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate's distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.
This statement was made as part of a joint proposal with Bill Gates to encourage other wealthy individuals to pool some of their fortunes for charitable purposes.
Bill Gates's wife Melinda urged people to learn a lesson from the philanthropic efforts of the family that sold its home and gave away half of its value, as detailed in The Power of Half. On December 9, 2010, Buffett, Bill Gates, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, signed a promise they called the "Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge", in which they promised to donate to charity at least half of their wealth over time, and invited others among the wealthy to donate 50% or more of their wealth to charity.