Howard W. Buffett (left) and Alex Rozek near Columbia University
Howard had just finished working for Obama's campaign, and he thought they could apply a similar social media strategy to organize interest in Doris's program. They formed the Learning by Giving Foundation in 2011. Alex became its president and asked Howard to join the board. They've since launched a MOOC -- massive open online course -- to expand the foundation's reach and fund the best ideas developed during the class.
Howard, 29, is co-author of 40 Chances, a book by his dad, Howard G. Buffett. The book -- and the cousins' work together -- applies some of the same principles of investing that Warren has become so famous for to philanthropy. They try calculating the amount of social good that will come out of a program or project, just as Warren would a return on his investments at Berkshire Hathaway (Fortune 500). ,
The cousins' various foundations and projects are intertwined: Howard teaches a course at Columbia University called Public Management Innovation, which incorporates elements of 40 Chances, social value investing, and Learning by Giving into the curriculum.
Howard and Alex don't view themselves as philanthropists -- it's not their money they're giving away. Instead, they're putting systems in place to help make philanthropy more efficient and effective. As Howard puts it, "Why do anything other than work to make the world a better place, especially with the amazing benefits we've been given?"
Howard W. Buffett: "I often say that doing good does not excuse us from doing better."
Alex Rozek: "My grandmother says the money was made by investing, so it should be distributed by investing -- investing in people."
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