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.
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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