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About a decade ago, a number of the world’s influential billionaires came together to share ideas on how they could motivate other wealthy people to contribute their wealth to philanthropy. This was the inception of “The Giving Pledge,” a campaign that encouraged the rich to dedicate at least half of their wealth to philanthropic efforts.
"The Giving Pledge” was a campaign that was discussed at a private dinner meeting in May of 2009 that consisted of some of the most well-known billionaires like David Rockefeller, Michael Bloomberg, and, reportedly, even Oprah Winfrey. While this meeting was kept secret when it occurred, a year later, its hosts, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet announced the launch of the modest campaign. This desire for change was fueled by the lack of donations from the billionaire population.
The call for action was not too specific or demanding. It requested that billionaires pledge 50 percent of their fortune to philanthropy. Those who made the pledge would not be bound by requirements meaning they could give to any causes they desired through any method and without time constraints, although donations to political parties would not count. Gates and Buffet hoped that the relaxed guidelines would serve as a strategic choice to get more billionaires to commit to donating.
At its start, 40 of America’s wealthiest individuals signed up for the commitment and it has since grown to over 200 of the world’s richest individuals, couples, and families from 25 different countries. The pledge works by having those who sign up issue a public commitment towards its mission. Those involved are able to independently work on their contributions and are then invited to an annual gathering to celebrate, share, and learn from one another as well as experts.
These billionaires come from different backgrounds and have diverse philanthropic interests ranging from issues including poverty, education, health, research, environmental sustainability, etc. A full list of pledge signatories can be found on the pledge’s website. It also includes the public pledge that each signatory released at the time of commitment. Here are just a few of the pledges made:
While the purpose of the pledge was to encourage billionaire’s to contribute their wealth, the sentiment of giving generously is relevant to capable donors of any financial status. For some insight on strategic giving, visit our blog for information!