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Billionaires dig deep for charity

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Friday, August 6, 2010
Posted: 2 pm ET

It looks like billionaire investor Warren Buffett has started a trend in charitable donations. In an interview last month during a conference for technology and media leaders, Buffett said he hoped wealthy people would enrich society by pledging at least half their fortunes to philanthropy. He has donated 99 percent of his own fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett

Since then, he's gained a roster of more than three dozen billionaires who have committed to what's called the "Giving Pledge."  The list includes well-known names like Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle; George Lucas, producer of "Star Wars" and media tycoon Ted Turner.  According to an article in Reuters, a total of 40 U.S. billionaires (including Buffett and Gates) are onboard. The Giving Pledge does not advise on charitable donations; rather, it is a platform to encourage billionaires to make the commitment.

Buffett says the billionaires who have pledged so far were enticed in a "soft sell," likely because they are already big donors to charity. He is now enlisting these initial pledges to join him in pitching the concept to other wealthy people. According to Forbes' latest research, there are 403 billionaires in the U.S.

That's a lot of potential cash that could go to charity instead of heirs. But, as oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens wrote in his Giving Pledge letter, "I'm not a big fan of inherited wealth. It generally does more harm than good. "

Buffett added that those who have committed to the pledge were not driven by tax breaks either, but by a motivation that goes "far, far beyond taxes."

What do you think of the Giving Pledge?

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Susie Hale
August 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I'd like to see money spent to increase employment of US families. Charity does not restore pride in citizenship, does not give ability of each families to provide for itself without handouts, does not motivate individuals to give back to communities through our skills, creativity, innovation, and participation. Education is most important but what about good role models jobs offer. If the wealthiest would endow industry with investment to create jobs to put families to work, we would find ourselves at the the heart of the American Dream. There's a great feeling to wash your hands after an honest day of hard work. Don't rob people of this joy. Invest in American people; not handouts!

suzette Trimmer
August 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I believe this to be a great thing! They all have too much money and they'll never need to spend that making sure their families are well off is first and foremost because they did EARN the money. But for Warren Buffet to be so bold as to even suggest such a thing is a HISTORIC EVENT, and I pray his efforts are not wasted with press or media. The United States of America is in such need, that I pray and hope the monies are first applied to our own first. Our children, our elderly, and our schools. Feed the children of America first, educate our young not to do as we ahve done. Our children deserve to learn from our mistakes so they or their children will not need what Mr. Buffet and so many others need to do for us NOW. Thank you for asking for my humble thoughts.
Most Sincerely,
Suzette trimmer
Philadelphia ,PA