Next Buffett Generation Takes Family Vision to Philanthropy

By Jay Ruderman

Kudos to Howard Buffett on a great idea. The grandson of billionaire Warren Buffett has left his government career behind to take over leadership of his family’s foundation. And he’s insisting that the organizations they support live up to a high businesslike standard he calls “impact.”

Buffett is looking for like-minded organizations to work together to eliminate duplication in both services and administrative costs that can weigh an organization down, making it  less than nimble in responding to the need it was designed to address.

Overlapping operations, he argues, waste money through redundant overhead. Working together and streamlining operations serve to maximize the impact of every dollar.

“We will give you money to execute your mission,” Buffett says, “if you work together and identify the most cost-effective and successful ways to achieve that.”

In evaluating organizations, he plans to take a page from the world of business and look hard at the numbers of lives impacted … moving non-profits away from selling the narrative, and toward selling effective and efficient solutions.

The world of Jewish philanthropy would be well to listen to Buffett’s advice. In a world where there are far too many redundancies in services – which add up to waste across the board – we need to tell fundees we will support them if and when they can work in partnership – and not in competition — with other organizations to create the biggest and best bang with each and every philanthropical buck.

— Jay Ruderman

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