Buffett Donates $1.6 Billion, Most Since 2008

Warren BuffettWarren Buffett's annual gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation rose 28%, to $1.6 billion from $1.25 billion last year, as Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) shares jumped 35% over the last year, Bloomberg reported. It is Buffett's largest donation since the 2008 financial crisis when the value of his donation was $1.8 billion.

The donation was made in Berkshire Class B stock. The Oracle of Omaha also donated $328 million in shares to three charities run by his children and another named for his late first wife, according to a July 2 filing. Bloomberg calculated the dollar value from the filing.

Buffett, who was once the richest man in the world, promised in 2006 to give away 99% of his wealth to charity. The billionaire investor is depleting the now third-largest personal fortune -- estimated at $47 billion by Forbes in March -- step-by-step, but he'll remain in control of Berkshire as long as he lives.

His chosen charities fund programs aimed at easing world hunger, boosting education in the U.S. and promoting access to abortions.

Bloomberg added that according to a study by Indiana University and GivingUSA Foundation, the financial crisis lowered charitable giving in the U.S. by 3.6% to $303.8 billion in 2009.

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