Billionaires Gather in Arizona to Discuss Philanthropy

What do dozens of American billionaires talk about when they get together? Their topic this week was of course money; not how to make it, but how to give it away.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Friday that a private gathering was a great chance for the billionaires who have pledged to give away at least half their wealth to meet each other, compare notes, eat and laugh.

The media was banned from Thursday's first meeting of the group that has accepted the giving challenge by Buffett and his friend Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Since last June, 69 individuals or couples have made the giving pledge.

Buffett knew only about 12 of the 61 people at the dinner at the Miraval Resort in Tucson before the famously gregarious Berkshire Hathaway CEO worked the room and made 40 new friends.

"They all more than fulfilled my expectations," Buffett told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said she was delighted by the openness of the virtual strangers. At one point, conversation at her table drifted toward the biggest mistakes people had ever made as philanthropists.

"One of the things about being a philanthropist, in many ways it's rather a lonely job," said Tashia Morgridge, a retired special education teacher.

She works with her husband, Cisco Systems chairman John Morgridge, to give money to improve U.S. education through the Denver-based Morgridge Family Foundation.

George Kaiser, a Tulsa, Okla., philanthropist who aids early childhood education and social services programs, said the giving pledge helps philanthropists who don't want to just throw money at causes and instead want to explore the best ways to invest money to tackle the world's biggest problems.

"Being able to share with other people who are agonizing about the same decisions is extraordinarily useful," said Kaiser, the chairman of BOK Financial Corp who has been an oil and gas industry executive for four decades. He led a session on applying analytical business practices to philanthropy.

The goals of the organization do not include working together to pool philanthropic dollars. Still, the meeting in Tucson that ended Friday included sessions where different philanthropists shared their passion to improve education, the environment and other causes.

Philosophies of giving and ideas for collaboration among the billionaires were also shared throughout the event, said Jean Case, CEO of the family foundation started by her and her husband, America Online founder Steve Case.

"There's a strong desire in this group to learn from each other," said Jean Case, who offered to host the event at their Tucson resort after Melinda Gates talked to her about the possibility of the meeting.

The mother of five children also led a session on children and families in philanthropy. Steve Case gave a talk on using social media to encourage giving. All the sessions at the meeting were led by members of the group.

Some common themes emerged from the event. The participants are looking to do more impactful, more effective philanthropy and to inspire average people to give money away, Jean Case said.

Sharing ideas about giving also took place informally. Melinda Gates said she talked to two people who were devoting money for work on state pension issues and criminal justice - problems Gates had previously not thought about.

Chuck Feeney, a New Jersey philanthropist Buffett called the spiritual leader of the group, spoke about his plans to give all his money to charity.

"He wants his last check to bounce," Buffett said.

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scottee

how about paying off the national debt? that would be a good idea!

May 09 2011 at 7:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jdrumerrnr

How did the Koch brothers like their dinner? Oh wait they weren't there, were they?

May 08 2011 at 2:22 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
zekandzora

It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got.

Because the owners of this country don't want that. I'm talking about the real owners now, the BIG Wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions.

Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the b@lls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don’t want:

They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. Thats against their interests.

They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting screwed by a system that threw them overboard 30 years ago. They don’t want that!

You know what they want? They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly crappier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this place! Its a big club, and you ain’t in it! You, and I, are not in the big club.

By the way, its the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! Good honest hard-working people; white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means, continue to elect these rich politicians who don’t Care about you.

They don’t care about you at all. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Thats what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue !@#$ thats being jammed up their @$$holes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.

Its called the American Dream,because you have to be asleep to believe it

RIP GEORGE CARLIN--- Goto YOUTUBE and watch this video type in "george carlin american dream"

May 08 2011 at 12:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ultraz2

GOOD now let's see if they not only say what they mean, but mean what they say. There word is on the line, who they really are will become evident by their actions to carry out their pledges. I've always thought it best for the rich to give away the bulk of their assets while they are living . Thus ensureing that the assets are spent properly and do the most good.

May 08 2011 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BUFFALO

I am full of ideas if they need some help!!!

May 07 2011 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply