Billionaire investor Warren Buffett shares personal words on his sister, Doris, in her new biography: The Doris Buffett Story - Giving It All Away, by Michael Zitz.
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Date published: 4/16/2010
The Doris Buffett Story
Below is a foreword for the new autobiography on Doris Buffett. It was written by her more famous brother, Warren, and is published on fredericksburg.com with the permission of the book's author, Michael Zitz, of Fredericksburg.
"My sister, Doris, is a philanthropist, but far from an ordinary one.
"Some people write a large number of checks; others invest a large amount of time and effort. Doris does both.
"She’s smart about how she does it as well, combining a soft heart with a hard head.
"Doris wisely employs a multiplier factor in her philanthropy, getting others—an army of “Sunbeams”—to aid her.
"These troops don’t enlist for pay, but rather are inspired by Doris’ goal of helping those who have suffered bad breaks in life and have had their plight ignored by others.
"If you’ve created your own problems, don’t bother to call Doris. If some undeserved blow has upended you, however, she will spend both her money and time to get you back on your feet. Her interest in you will be both personal and enduring.
"I’ve never believed that in philanthropy, merit should be measured by dollars expended.
"Lower-income individuals dropping a few dollars into a collection plate every Sunday are likely giving up something their families would enjoy—a more extensive vacation, improvements to their home or the like.
"Real sacrifice is involved.
"To the contrary, neither I nor my children have ever foregone a purchase because the money needed for it was instead allocated to philanthropy. Our gifts, however large, have never impinged on our lifestyle.
"Doris, by no means, lives a spartan life. But she does give away money that, were it used personally, would make her life easier.
She is one of the rare well-off individuals who reduces her net worth annually by making charitable contributions.
"She thus marginally reduces her own standard of living so that she can vastly improve the quality of life for thousands of others.
"For Doris, a lot of good for others takes precedence over small amounts of good for herself.
"More than a century ago, Andrew Carnegie wrote his famous Gospel of Wealth, concluding, “the man who dies rich dies disgraced.”