More than three dozen of America’s wealthiest individuals and families have joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in agreeing to give away at least half their fortunes to charity.
The announcement was made Wednesday by The Giving Pledge, an effort officially launched by Gates and Buffett earlier this year to persuade the richest people 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.
In addition to Buffett and Gates — America’s two wealthiest individuals, with a combined net worth of $90 billion, according to Forbes — 38 other billionaires are taking the give-it-away pledge. They include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, film director George Lucas and investor Ronald Perelman.
“We’ve really just started, but already we’ve had a terrific response,” Buffett, co-founder and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in a statement. “At its core, the Giving Pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used.
“We’re delighted that so many people are doing just that – and that so many have decided to not only take this pledge but also to commit to sums far greater than the 50 percent minimum level.”
Bloomberg, who made his fortune from financial news and information services company Blomberg L.P., added: “If you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing — by far — is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children. And by giving, we inspire others to give of themselves, whether their money or their time.”
CNN founder Ted Turner said he felt compelled to give back. “I’m particularly thankful for my father’s advice to set goals so high that they can’t possibly be achieved during a lifetime and to give help where help is needed most,” he said. “That inspiration keeps me energized and eager to keep working hard every day on giving back and making the world a better place for generations to come.”
Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, and Buffett launched “The Giving Pledge” in June. The effort could funnel a colossal amount of money into nonprofit groups. If the individuals on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans pledged half their net worth to charity, that would amount to $600 billion, according to Fortune magazine.
The United States has roughly 400 billionaires, about 40 percent of the world’s total, according to Forbes. The 40 names that have pledged to date have a combined net worth surpassing $230 billion.
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