Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Your potential. Our passion. Their money.

Remember Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is serving six years in prison on a criminal case where he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion? Apparently Microsoft was one of the biggest employers of Team Abramoff, who were successful in increasing the number of H-1B visas in 1996, 1998 and 2000. With Jack now locked up, Guffett Jr. has taken to hoofing Capital Hill himself urging high tech worker immigration reform, though no word yet if he supports open borders for the rest of us.

“Can Guffett Sr. buy his way into Heaven with his charitable donation?" asks Mike Bower, Pastor of Adult Ministries, Woodland Park Baptist Church. "I come from a biblical world view. I can give you several scriptures where the word of God says that’s not the case. Mathew Six, one through four, says beware practicing your righteousness before men. Giving is not something we flaunt or publicize."

Though Guffett Sr. has agreed conditions in Sudan are deplorable, he believes divesting related holding would not help. "So it's hard to see how Buffett is a social investor," writes to Liz Umlas, Sr. Research Analyst at KLD, an independent investment research firm. "It seems that what he thinks is 'right' is maximizing returns regardless of the social consequences, whether that means investing in tobacco, or in companies that do business with the government of Sudan."

"Like a very wealthy but self-indulgent family, we peeled off a bit of what we owned in order to consume more than we produced," writes Guffett Sr. in his recent letter to shareholders. "The U.S. can do a lot of this because we are an extraordinarily rich country that has behaved responsibly in the past .... at some point in the future (there) will be a severe political backlash."

DEAL OR NO DEAL: Is it just me who takes perverse enjoyment in the philanthropy paparazzi effect? Since these Guffett posts get so few comments, I fear so. So unless there are any requests to continue, I think this shall be the last we hear of Melinda, Bill and Warren's most excellent adventures on this humble blog for the time being.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Green Acres, we are there!

If behind every great man is a great woman, apparently behind Guffett Sr. is another man. If "Charlie Munger hadn’t been around, Buffett arguably would not have gained an appreciation of buying great businesses rather than cigar butts."

Speaking of great women, I learned today that Ms. Guffett is from Dallas. She and her husband recently visited Vietnam on a two-fer, promoting better children's health and the Windows operating system. No word on if they are also selling Microsoft's new Swiss army knife.

Educational advocate and Harvard drop out Guffett Jr. will finally be presented his diploma from his Alma Mata on June 7. None too soon, as he is scheduled to give this year's University commencement speech. Looking for the perfect graduation gift? Consider picking out something in the catalog of billionaires.

Guffett the Elder has been seen recently hanging around the basketball court with NBA star LeBron James, who wants to be the first sports star billionaire. Says Guffett Sr., "He tells me what socks to buy and I tell him what stocks to pick." Elsewhere it is reported Vanity Fair Guest Editor and U2 Frontman Bono has taken a fancy to the younger Guffett.

Am so sorry to report, the Guffett Jr. for President bandwagon has called it quits. Doubt anybody is going to nominate Carlos Slim, the third richest man in the world. Last month he scoffed at Guffett for playing Santa Claus to cure poverty's ills. According to Slim, "wealth must be seen a responsibility, not as a privilege. The responsibility is to create more wealth."

Speaking of Slim, he and Guffett now control more money than the poorest 48 nations combined. According to Peter Schwartz, Chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, in a free, capitalist system, this income inequality represents something very good. What do you think?

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

She's wearing tight white shorts. How about yours?

At 76, Guffett Sr. has announced he is looking for someone to take over his job. Maybe he'll ask George Foreman, as he does keep a photo of him on his desk. But apparently he is no rush to retire, as the elder Guffett is in excellent shape from his diet of Cherry Coke and hamburgers. I guess don't live to geek; geek to live isn't one of the enlightened sayings you'll find in the Tao of Guffett.

Guffett Sr. may have filed his first income tax at age 13, declaring his bicycle as a business expense, but he still doesn't carry a cell phone or use a computer at his desk. Perhaps he can't afford them on his $100,000 a year salary? Maybe Guffett Jr., who recently sold 20 million shares of Microsoft stock, raising about $580,000,000, could front him a loan? Or perhaps he'll take up the Learning Annex's offer of $2,000,000 to teach for 30 minutes? Though of course, Donald Trump will then want a raise, up from the $1,500,000 per hour he gets.

Just because you're a Guffett child does not mean you get to play on your computer all day long. Mr. and Mrs. Guffett Jr. have decided to set for their daughter a of total screen time limit 45 minutes a day for games, and up to 1 hour a day on weekends. I wonder if she has met her new uncle yet, the Jewish Guffett?

So how do you know you're working at the world's largest foundation? When in one week your boss breaks earth on a new 1,000-car parking garage and his newest business partner is the Canadian Prime Minister. And speaking of parking garages, according to GM officials, if they made cars like Guffett Jr. makes computers, "You'd have to press the start button to turn the engine off."

Steve Jobs continues to get all the breaks, as people consider Guffett Jr. uncool and boring. Maybe we need to call in the brand experts? Or maybe not? Boring or not, Guffett Jr.'s fortune still rose $6 billion to $56 billion last year, while Guffett Sr. garnered in an additional $10 billion to boost his net worth to $52 billion. The lack of hurricanes has been credited with helping propel the elder's record profits, a fact I'm sure the folks at Common Ground were happy to hear.

Finally, every year Guffett Sr. writes a much anticipated annual letter to shareholders, full of words of wisdom, including this short story I'd like to share with you:
"An older man who crashed his grocery cart into that of a much younger fellow while both were shopping. The elderly man explained apologetically that he had lost track of his wife and was preoccupied searching for her. His new acquaintance said that by coincidence his wife had also wandered off and suggested that it might be more efficient if they jointly looked for the two women. Agreeing, the older man asked his new companion what his wife looked like. 'She’s a gorgeous blonde,' the fellow answered, 'with a body that would cause a bishop to go through a stained glass window, and she’s wearing tight white shorts. How about yours?" The senior citizen wasted no words: 'Forget her, we’ll look for yours.'"

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined

Dear readers, how could I have been so wrong? Several of you have noted that "Guffett" is a much more logical nickname for our leading foundation team than Biffett. Plus, it creates space for Ms. Guffett. So after extensive market research, I move that "Biffett is dead, long live Guffett!" Can I get a second?

So if you think GatesGate was the most talked about Guffett story of recent weeks, I'm sorry to say you'd be wrong. No, if a month of Google Alerts is any indication, there is no long tale to this puppy. Here's what people are really chatting about online:

Guffett Sr. "follows his own path not only in investing, but also with his diet, salting his food with a farmhand’s gusto, drinking lots of Coca-Cola and regularly visiting his favorite Omaha steakhouse, Gorat's."

Recently while in Scotland, many were impressed by Guffett Jr's puntuality. "Journalists were briefed that a press conference would last 14 minutes and he departed just 19 seconds late."

In a startling online confession, the 51-year-old Guffett Jr. has admitted he's not a great Halo 2 player, but is a fair Uno, Project Gotham and online bridge aficionado. Though I'm willing to bet his twin is quite a gamer, given his love of boy toys.

While many believe that an audience with Guffett Sr. is "on par with that of a philosophy student conversing with Plato," it seems a few disbelievers are still not on the bus. For the elder Guffett was recently presented the prestigious Cold, Dead Fish Award. Hopefully he got his unruly eyebrows trimmed before he had to give his acceptance speach.

Now here's a creative new idea for how to give away their combined wealth:
"The $60 billion Guffett Foundation could, in theory, employ a 4,100-man air and ground-mobile brigade for a year, using only the foundation's annual investment income. Such a brigade of former special forces men would have the capability of removing just about any government in Africa, many in Asia, and more than a few in Latin America. When Guffett seethe with frustration over the corruption, incompetence, and tribalism that interfere with their public health efforts in Africa, one wonders whether the thought of more direct measures ever enters their minds."
And say it's not true, but reports are beginning to surface that the younger Guffett may have Aspergers, which has prompted celebrity Medical Ethicist Arthur Caplan, Ph.D. to ask "Would you have allowed Guffett Jr. to be born?"

But don't worry, it's not all work and no play for team Guffett. Recently they were presented with Hooters VIP Cards at a Hooters Restaurant in Kansas City. The cards entitle them to free food at any of the chains 435 locations in 46 states and 20 countries -- but they do have to pay for their own drinks.

Party Fun Fact: The birth of Guffett has now been determined to be one of the seminal events in the history of capitalism. Who knew? You do now.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Philanthropy. Drivers wanted.

So I have a little New Year's resolution to share, which is to express gratitude more often in all of my life. We've never met, but I'd like to thank web maven Britt Bravo and her work for inspiring me to reach higher. So without further adieu, here are a few miscellaneous items I'm thankful for from this past week.

The blogosphere was awash with year-end donation suggestions, including give more than you spend on beer or give like a Mormon. My honest favorite was "give your child--or someone else’s child--$25 to spend on charity."

The New York Times continues its big-ticket philanthropy reportage by shedding a little light on back room operations at "a $2.5 billion fund-raising effort, which requires New York University to bring in, on average, $1 million a day." I'm just grateful I don't have to raise $4.3 billion.

It may surprise you I that put my television in storage over 5 years ago, only recently pulling it out to watch videos. Have no plans to install cable or even an antenna, so I'm probably going to have to ask a friend to tivo Oprah's The Big Give. Given the effect her book club has had on the publishing industry, I'm interested to see the impact, if any, it will have on the philanthropy world.

I’m sure it’s just me, but I just can’t get enough of Biffett. I mean, who writes this stuff?
"This tale was meant to be a buddy flick … A silver-haired Biffett, played by Steve Martin, vows that the young whippersnapper will never beat the old master. Biffett's bridge partner persuades him to lay down a bet of 10 million Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., worth $31 billion. Cut to a close-up of Gates, smiling fiendishly as he hands out Xboxes to a line of orphans some 100 million deep … Suggested movie title: 'Bill and Warren's Excellent Adventure.'"
At least Melinda is finally getting some respect. Now we're being asked to "think of her as Princess Di with an MBA."

Finally, am very grateful to Carol at Dollar Philanthropy, who thoughtfully, but respectfully declined the Time Magazine Person of the Year Award, instead giving it to someone more deserving. I've been moved to decline as well, and ask the good folks at Time to please send my plaque to the Amish Community, who lost 10 young school-age girls earlier this year in an execution-style killing. Their response of unconditional love and forgiveness in the face of such suffering should be a model for us all.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Experience you can trust

The expanded philanthropy press has been busy this last week tracking the activities of our newest power couple, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, better known as Biffett. Several headlines reported on the impending environmental crackdown in Washington that may end Biffett Jr.'s semi-legal Porsche supercar 959 midnight jaunts. According to one close associate, "What he really wants is his own racing track, but I'm not sure Melinda would go for that."

Out from behind the wheel, Biffett Jr. got a multi-lingual work out recently "in a promotional film produced by [Israel's] Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. In the film, Gates praises 'Israel's unique human capital' in four languages -- English, French, Chinese and Spanish." Too soon to say whether such international outreach will have an influence on the "nearly two-thirds of Americans [who] believe that the next Bill Gates will come from China, Japan or India."

Back in Iowa, reports have begun to surface that in the fall of 2005 Biffett donated $1 million to introduce bridge to the nation's schools. John Gustafason, a retired doctor who occasionally plays against Biffett Sr., is not surprised that successful people like Biffett are bridge fanatics. "It's a good mental challenge, and it's a competitive outlet. [Plus] you always have a partner, so you can blame all the errors on that person."

With the recent closure of the magazine FHM, many are asking "Could it be that the [men's] magazine genre is keeling over on its way to middle age?" In an apparent attempt to woe older readers, the January cover of industry-leading Maxim features Biffett Sr.'s "ways to become mega-rich.” Elsewhere, the recently published Tao of Warren Buffett features collection of Biffett Sr. truisms like, "you can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant."

Unfortunately, not everybody seems to love Biffett. Some conservatives are decrying Biffett Sr.'s pledge of $6 billion to the foundations of his late wife and children as "destined to promote radical environmentalism and population control, abortion, embryonic stem cell research and perhaps other causes." And while a few others may grumble Biffett is old news, most Americans still turn to them for trusted advice on how to turn one dollar into one billion dollars.

Water cooler fun fact: Biffett Sr. "bought a small farm at age 14 with savings from delivering newspapers."

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Friday, December 15, 2006

There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s capitalism.

Across the country, a slew of new magazines are attempting to join People, US Weekly, and Good Housekeeping on grocery store end cap displays. Targeting the growing “philanthropy lifestyle” market are Benefit, Generosity, Good and Contribute.

Following their sister publications proclivity for nicknaming celebrity couples, such as TomKat and Brangelina, perhaps it won’t be too long until philanthropy’s newest couple, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are known as "Biffett." No reaction yet from Melinda on this turn of phrase, but here’s a quick sampling of the kind of news you might come to expect.

The Biffett Jr. for President campaign got a boost when Dilbert creator Scott Adams publicaly nominated Biffett Jr. for president:
"For my president I want a mixture of Mother Teresa, Carl Sagan, Biffett Sr., and Darth Vader. Biffett Jr. has all of their good stuff. His foundation will save more lives than Mother Teresa ever did. He’s got the Carl Sagan intelligence and rational mind. He’s a hugely successful businessman. And I have every reason to believe he can choke people just by concentrating in their general direction. You can’t tell me that wouldn’t be useful at a summit."
President or not, "there is no sex appeal in being Biffett Jr.'s granddaughter. Girlfriend may be rich, but we all know the younger Biffett's conscientious kids will marry a relief worker in Africa or the valedictorian at MIT in the year 2026."

At this year's Atidim fundraising gala “the only disappointment was the no-show of megabillionaire Biffett Sr., who called in sick.” Fortunately, "as master of ceremonies, actor Michael Burstyn kept the action moving and concluded the evening on a high note by leading guests in singing 'Jerusalem of Gold.'"

Biffett Sr. may have been at home wearing his favorite sweat suit recovering from recent financial losses. "It took less than 45 minutes for the elder Biffett, billionaire investor and avid bridge player, to go broke in a charity poker tournament ... 'It’s different than bridge,' said Biffett Sr., 76, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. 'I was confused. I thought the low score won.'"

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Final word on Warren Buffett's transfer to the Gates Foundation

This just in via the White Courtesy Telephone: The The Onion, America's finest news source, reports that the Bush administration has unveiled a $64 billion spending package for a joint CIA-Pentagon program whose aim is to "neutraliz[e] the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's global humanitarian network."
"Once you educate a population--teach them to read, do math, give them access to the Internet--they can use those skills for the rest of their lives," the CIA's [Africa specialist Alberto] O'Hara said. "We don't know what these people would be capable of if left to their own devices. And quite frankly, we don't want to know," O'Hara added.
Thank goodness for The Onion, Jon Stewart and Judge Anna Diggs Taylor.

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