The Giving Pledge - A Big Idea for Philanthropy

Bill Gates' and Warren Buffett's Big Idea for Philanthropy

Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates started the Giving Pledge with Warren Buffett. Getty Images News

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett are the 21st-century counterparts to the Gilded Age's Carnegie and Rockefeller.

But they have gone further than those tycoons of old by not only giving away heaps of money to charitable causes but forming the biggest billionaires club in history.

The Giving Pledge, the most gilded of giving circles, was set up in 2010 to encourage the wealthiest of the wealthy to give most of their fortunes away to philanthropic causes, either before they die or right afterwards.

Gates and Buffett, long-time partners in charitable giving, started with American billionaires but have now expanded across the globe.

Still, most of the tycoons who have signed up are American born and bred. They range from Paul G. Allen (co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates) to Jean and Steve Case (of AOL and Time Warner fame) to Michael R. Bloomberg (NYC Mayor and media tycoon) to Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook). The names make up a who's who list of historic proportions.

At the Giving Pledge website, there is a short bio and a letter that each member wrote upon joining this elite club. The letters set out broad goals and philosophies of charitable giving.

The Giving Pledge is not a contract but a simple "moral" agreement that each member plans to follow through on his/her commitment to give away most of their fortune to charity.

Each Giving Pledge member follows his or her own giving plan.

The group does not make joint decisions. But, they do get together every couple of years to socialize and self-educate about global social issues, how to give more effectively, and how to measure success.

Effective giving and measurable results have been a mantra of the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation since its beginning, and it is not surprising that this group of philanthropists would take up that intent.

Will this group actually change the world and solve some of our biggest social challenges? 

Recommended Reading:

Warren Buffett adds new billionaires to ‘giving pledge’ , Financial Services, 2015

The Giving Pledge, Current Profiles as of 2015

Giving Pledge Signers Gave Big in 2013 but Not Much for Today’s Needs, Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2014.

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