Two of the nation’s leading billionaire philanthropists are joining forces to encourage others to donate as much as half of their wealth to charities. Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett are teaming to create the Giving Pledge, “an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.”
According to Patty Stonesifer, who is advising Gates and Buffett on the Giving Pledge, four additional families – real estate and construction’s Eli Broad, venture capitalist John Doerr, media entrepreneur Gerry Lenfest and former Cisco Systems chairman John Morgridge – are already on board. Buffett, who has already pledged to donate 99 percent of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said “At the latest, the proceeds from all of my Berkshire shares will be expended for philanthropic purposes by 10 years after my estate is settled. Nothing will go to endowments. I want the money spent on current needs,” according to Buffett. Forbes magazine ranks Gates as the world’s second richest man with $53 billion and Buffett as third with $47 billion. The United States is home to 403 billionaires.
The Giving Pledge is not accepting money itself. Rather, it is asking billionaires to commit to giving their money to charity. Although the campaign specifically targets billionaires, the Giving Pledge is “inspired by the example set by millions of Americans who give generously (and often at great personal sacrifice) to make the world a better place.”