The Golden Age of Philanthropy
by Karen Perry-Weinstat
Founded by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, the The Giving Pledge is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. There are only two requirements to join The Giving Pledge, you must agree to give away at least 50% of your wealth in your lifetime or upon death and you must write a letter explaining why you joined the pledge. You can see who the members are and read their letters here. There are now 115 members between the ages of 27 and 98. What is the total amount of charitable contributions for The Giving Pledge to date? Over half a trillion dollars. Most of the members are entrepreneurs, which makes one wonder why they would give away the vast majority of their wealth when they worked so hard to earn it. “Incremental wealth – the process of adding to existing wealth — has no real utility to an individual, but it has incredible utility to others,” said Warren Buffett during the 60 Minutes broadcast on March 27th. (Watch here.) Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is a member of The Giving Pledge. She explained that most members made their money by being bold. Indeed, Sara started Spanx with an initial $5,000 investment. She wants her philanthropic work to be bold as well. These widely successful entrepreneurs have found that giving is not always easy. Bill Gates explained, “It doesn’t matter how effective a vaccine is, if it isn’t packaged and administered effectively.” It was noted in the piece that the Gates Foundation is close to eradicating polio in the world. Let us hope we are indeed living in the “Golden Age of Philanthropy”.