Archive for November, 2011

Inspirational Innovator: The Giving Pledge

Last year, iconic leaders Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates joined forces to create an innovative initiative: The Giving Pledge. Through this organization, Buffett and Gates are encouraging and inspiring fellow billionaires around the world to donate more than 50% of their wealth to charity.

Warren Buffett with Bill and Melinda Gates

More than 70 of the world’s wealthiest families have made the pledge since Gates and Buffett introduced the initiative last year. First introduced as a $600 billion challenge to encourage philanthropy among billionaires specifically in America, Gates and Buffett have since taken the Giving Pledge abroad, introducing it to billionaires around the world. Dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as the “most powerful movement in American philanthropy since Andrew Carnegie released his famous ‘Gospel of Wealth’ treatise in 1889,” pledges represent more than $150 billion in philanthropy already.

The Pledge itself is simple: signers have to be billionaires who promise to give at least half of their fortune to charity during their lifetimes. Each writes a letter, which can be read online here. Signers include, along with Gates and Buffett, high profile business leaders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, and David Rockerfeller.

The Giving Pledge is a natural extension of the inspirational philanthropic efforts Buffett and Gates practice themselves: Bill and Melinda Gates through their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Buffett through his own well-documented promise to give his Bershire Hathaway empire away to charities. (See an in-depth interview with the trio by Charlie Rose here)

So far, 69 billionaires have signed the pledge, representing more than $150 billion in pledges supporting a range of causes, from fighting cancer and funding Jewish schools to housing orphans in Africa and helping farmers in Appalachia.