Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Biggest Gift in the World

Kudos as well to Buffett and Gates:

In the past year, Buffett has carried his philanthropy to a new extreme and, in the process, sparked a revolution in the world of giving. Through his launch of the Giving Pledge in June 2010, a joint venture with his partner-in-patronage Bill Gates, Buffett has unlocked billions of dollars for philanthropic causes. The Pledge has touched off a national debate about how much is "enough" when it comes to giving, and created the most powerful movement in American philanthropy since Andrew Carnegie released his famous "Gospel of Wealth" treatise in 1889.

The Pledge itself is radical in its simplicity. Its signers have to be billionaires. And they have to promise to give at least half of their fortune to charity during their lifetimes.

So far, 69 billionaires have signed the pledge, representing more than $150 billion in philanthropy. That number is "far more" than he and Gates expected, Buffett says. The signers are wildly diverse in their politics and causes—ranging from fighting cancer and funding Jewish schools to housing orphans in Africa and helping farmers in Appalachia. Still, they are united in their mission: to inspire the world's wealthy to give a larger percentage of their wealth to charity. It is the world's largest fund-raiser.

Buffett says that while many of the givers had already committed to give half of their fortune away, others were inspired for the first time to promise a specific number. And a few decided to make their first gifts ever. Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg hadn't announced any real philanthropic plans before signing the Pledge last December. He announced his signing with a gift of $100 million to the public school system in Newark, New Jersey, which plans to use the money to create innovative new programs and incentives for teachers. "People wait until late in their career to give back," Zuckerberg said in a statement. "But why wait when there is so much to be done?"


The Biggest Gift in the World


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