Warren Buffett’s biggest philanthropic donation in history, coming in at $37 billion, is going to put big pressure on Bill Gates’ Foundation. It comes with levers, rather than strings.

Warren Buffett's biggest philanthropic donation in history, coming in at $37 billion, is going to put big pressure on Bill Gates' Foundation. It comes with levers, rather than strings. 2

Warren Buffett’s commitment to give the bulk of his $44 billion fortune to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four other philanthropies is “the largest in philanthropic history, a record previously held by Bill and Melinda Gates, who have given away more than $29 billion,” according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The gift will be one for the record books, to be sure. It is also a huge boost for the Gateses’ already incredibly well-funded foundation, which is dedicated to improving health and education, especially in poor nations. And if anyone were to make such a startling donation, it would be the iconoclastic Mr. Buffett.

The New York Sun wrote Monday in an editorial that the gift “is the sort of bold move that has made so many Americans admirers of Mr. Buffett.”

But Mr. Buffett’s donation plans, first reported on Fortune.com and outlined in a series of letters on the Web site of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, will also put new pressure on the Gates foundation.

Specifically, Mr. Buffett is imposing a requirement that, after two years, the foundation must give away an amount of money equal to funds it receives each year from Mr. Buffett.

This will approximately double the overall size of the grants it writes each year, as Fortune reports:

With so much new money to handle, the foundation will be given two years to resize its operations. But it will then be required by the terms of Buffett’s gift to annually spend the dollar amount of his contributions as well as those it is already making from its existing assets. At the moment, $1.5 billion would roughly double the foundation’s yearly benefactions.

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