Warren Buffett Eats Lunch, Community Nonprofit is $3.5 Million Richer

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June 11, 2016, NBC News

Warren Buffett’s annual lunch auction is a statement of his values on any number of levels. Clearly, it makes a great difference to the community served. And unlike some examples of “big bet” philanthropy, it can show outcomes that are undeniable—but could anyone else pull this annual event off?

The “last second” bid of $3,456,789 won this year’s 17th annual lunch-with-Warren Buffett auction for the benefit of the Glide Foundation. You can see the photos or watch the video of the Glide countdown party. The winning bidder can invite up to seven people to dine with Buffett at New York City’s Smith & Wollensky steakhouse.

This the second time the five-day eBay auction bidding reached exactly this highest ever amount, also bid by an anonymous (but pre-qualified) bidder in 2012. Zhu Ye, Chairman of Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co., an online gaming company based in China, placed the winning bid last year of $2,345,678. The auction has raised $23.6 million for Glide since its inception in 2000. Buffett said, “that he’s never had a ‘bad experience’ with a winner, and that they have made ‘interesting and smart’ dining companions.”

Buffett’s first wife, Susie Buffett, who died in 2004, inspired this annual fundraiser for Glide. “I am proud to be part of something that has directly benefited so many people in need,” Buffett says today. “Glide is a bridge for thousands of people on the brink of despair, helping them achieve dignity and opportunity by providing them with basic services.”

The San Francisco–based Glide Foundation provides the following each year at no cost to its beneficiaries:

750,000 meals; childcare, afterschool services and access to the family resource center for nearly 450 children and parents across 175 families; 815,000 syringes distributed to 17,000 individuals struggling with substance use; rental assistance for 153 individuals and families; emergency shelter housing for 8,600 program participants; crisis counseling for 2,500 people; and legal counseling to assist more than 200 clients in securing housing and benefits, and in settling disputes.

Yes, Glide is worthy of all the support it can raise.

Warren Buffett, the world’s third-wealthiest individual, is known for the Giving Pledge, pledging most of his wealth to the Gates Foundation, for being a patriot, for the “Buffett Rule” that the wealthy should pay more in taxes, and, of course, for being the Oracle of Omaha.

New York City’s Smith & Wollensky steakhouse donates about $10,000 a year to Glide for the privilege of serving as the location for the annual lunch with Warren Buffett.—James Schaffer