A Conversation with Warren Buffett
This month GLIDE celebrates the 20th anniversary of the eBay Auction for Power Lunch with Warren Buffett. This exciting annual effort raises funds for GLIDE’s comprehensive programs benefitting some of the most in-need and marginalized San Franciscans. It also represents a special relationship that has only grown stronger with the years—one that includes Mr. Buffett, who first came to GLIDE at the invitation of his late wife Susie Buffett, and also our friends at eBay.
“There’s plenty of good things to do in the world with money,” notes Mr. Buffett of his longstanding commitment to the auction and his endorsement of GLIDE’s programs and services. “The one thing I can do is I can give them a 100% guarantee, so this is one of them.”
Regarding GLIDE’s work on behalf of San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents, Mr. Buffett remains as passionate as ever.
“You offer them the chance to find out what’s within them that hasn’t yet surfaced. That can start with things as basic as food, but it goes beyond that. If you can help somebody be something better than they thought they were or that the world told them they were, that’s the ultimate accomplishment in life.”
The following is an excerpt (lightly edited for readability) of Karen’s chat with Warren Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska, on April 4. You can also watch the interview here. GLIDE’s community is blessed to have friends like Warren Buffett and eBay, and we thank them for their stalwart commitment to GLIDE’s mission and the diverse and beautiful communities we serve.
Karen Hanrahan: It’s the 20th anniversary of the auction. You have so generously supported this legendary effort for two decades. This is a very special partnership to GLIDE. It’s not just Warren Buffett and GLIDE, it’s also eBay and now a growing circle of winners who’ve become part of the GLIDE family. This partnership has really allowed GLIDE to lift even more people out of desperate circumstances. It’s allowed GLIDE to innovate on the front lines of poverty. It has really fundamentally changed the lives of the people that we serve, and it’s a special relationship for us.
When you think back over the past two decades, what are some of the experiences you’ve had and people you’ve met that really stand out?
Warren Buffett: Well, it’s been nothing but good. We’ve raised money, but I’ve had a good time. I’ve met a lot of very interesting people from all over the world. . . . The one universal characteristic is that they have a good time, and they feel they’ve got their money’s worth. But the most important thing is they feel that that money is going to be put to very good uses. . . . And it translates into human beings finding that there is hope in life.
KH: I was brought to GLIDE to help it evolve, to help GLIDE grow, and to really build on the legacy that Cecil and Jan have built for over 50 years.
WB: I was skeptical going in [to GLIDE the first time]. Susie told me about this wonderful organization, this wonderful man, the wonderful things they were doing and everything. But when I saw it! You know, I like backing the right people.
KH: At GLIDE, we know we couldn’t do this auction without eBay. They’ve got an ethos and a commitment to philanthropy. They’ve been an incredible partner.
WB: Well, it’s been so successful. We were raising $25,000 a year by talking to just a few people. And as soon as we went on eBay, we essentially were talking to the whole world. Now we raise in the millions every year.
KH: The winners and eBay, they’re investing in GLIDE’s legacy. We spend money on the people. And everyone has our clients at the front of their minds.
WB: I talked to a couple of the top executives at eBay over the years and they feel really, really good about their participation through GLIDE. There’s nothing like backing winners, and helping people become winners.