I've avoided writing about the gift from Warren Buffett to the Gates Foundation. Certainly, there has been no shortage of opinions expressed - thousands of news stories have been published around the world. I've even received a handful of email pieces from different philanthropy advisors touting their own quotations in the press about the gift - in other words, public relations about the press relations that got published as part of the news coverage of a press release. But that's not my point.
My point has to do with the irony of ego. Much of the public oohing and aahing about Mr. Buffett's gift to the Gates Foundation has had to do with the way his act debunks the assumption that big donors are all about ego. The news stories and professional commentary have been full of wonder that Mr. Buffett would forego his own name on the building (so to speak) in order to put his money to what he thinks is the best use.
The irony? Buffett's act of non-ego driven giving has received more press, more discussion, more analysis, and more pats on the ego than any other philanthropic act I can recall. Mr. Buffett - who seems to value value over all else (in his work and his philanthropy) is being credited with creating a whole new way of doing philanthropy, even as he modestly laughs and wonders why everyone is so surprised that he would choose to work with what works.
Mr. Buffett's ego-less philanthropy has probably won him more praise and attention than any kind of named giving might have done.