Secret meeting of world's richest people held in New York Click here

Photo gallery: Click here

Comment: How they could spend the money in Ireland

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have something in common besides being the two richest men in the world. They also want to give it all away sooner rather than later.

That was what the meeting in Manhattan was about on May 5th, as first exclusively reported on

This ‘giving while living’ idea has become a major mantra for both men, and they are both worried that the billionaires of today are not taking the message seriously enough.

It was something that Gates in particular wanted to get across to the audience of the great and the good who attended, including Oprah Winfrey, George Soros and Michael Bloomberg

They are joined in that belief by Charles Feeney, the ‘secret billionaire’ who first coined the term ‘giving while living,’ and who has personified the trend.

Feeney has donated much of his fortune accumulated through his ownership of Duty Free Shops to Ireland.  A recent television program there blew the lid on just how much.

Essentially, he has underwritten higher education in Ireland—the rocket fuel for the Celtic Tiger ---for the last two decades as well as massively funding reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland and helping human rights causes across a broad spectrum.

Atlantic Philanthropies, which Feeney founded, will have given all its multibillion-dollar endowment away by around 2020 if current projections are correct. That’s not as easy as it may sound. Atlantic has to give away about $1 million dollars a day, every day of the year to make that target.

It may sound absurd to some, but when you try to give money way there are massive legal and technical issues to overcome. You have to guard above all against money being wasted, or corruptly spent. The more of a deadline there is the more the opportunity to squander it.

It’s a reality that it is actually very difficult to give away all that money that quickly. Atlantic does a phenomenal job, but even they struggle with the concept.

This is something that Gates and Buffett are sure to encounter. Their fortunes are far larger and Buffett has essentially transferred the vast majority of his wealth to the Gates Foundation. One of the main topics of discussion for the men and women at their secret conference was how to expend their fortunes as quickly as possible in this time of maximum need.

It is the opposite of how the vast majority of us live carefully saving to make sure we have enough to get through life. The billionaires have problems spending it on good causes. Life is strange sometimes.