Doris Buffett Puts A Personal Spin On Philanthropy

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Doris Buffett isn't quite as recognizable as her little brother, but he wouldn't be quite as famous if it wasn't for her.

Doris Buffett, 86, is Warren Buffett's big sister and head of the Sunshine Lady Foundation. The charitable organization works with Warren Buffett to distribute his money to those who need it after announcing that he would be giving his money to charity in 2006. A big part of his charitable mission was to make sure a human read every request for monetary assistance, and Doris makes sure that happens.

The Sunshine Lady Foundation was founded in 1996 after Doris came into some money of her own. She used the foundation to give $150 million of her own money to scholarships, inmate assistance programs and other causes. The foundation, which employs seven women, switched to reading requests for Warren's money in 2006. The foundation was originally given $5 million to give out to those who needed it, but Warren said he would give more if they needed it. Beyond the initial figure, however, we don't know how much Warren has given to charity through his sister's charity.

Warren Buffett is one of the most famous philanthropists of our time, but what made his sister want to start giving? According to Doris herself, she discovered her desire to give during the Great Depression when even the wealthy were struggling to get by. Her experience during the Great Depression seems to have influenced her style of giving as well. While she may have started out with large donations, she now gives out money on a case-by-case basis for those with small needs. For example, she has used her brother's money to pay for tombstones or a car. Her willingness to provide small gifts to individuals sets her apart from other philanthropists that throw millions of dollars at big issues that impact thousands of people.

Two years ago, Google hosted Doris at its Authors@Google talks where she discussed her philanthropist philosophy. It's definitely worth checking out:

In a world where philanthropy often feels like part of a PR campaign, the Buffetts stand out as a real force for change. A lot of that success can be attributed to Doris with which a lot of this wouldn't be possible.

[h/t: Huffington Post] Image via Talks at Google/YouTube

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