Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett are launching a drive to persuade billionaires to give away the majority of their fortunes.
What started as a series of very private dinners last year became a public campaign Wednesday when they called on their fellow billionaires to sign a "Giving Pledge," to donate most of their wealth to philanthropic causes of their choice.
The pledge isn't legally binding, but they hope the effort will generate more money to address important social problems and set a standard that becomes the norm, former Gates Foundation Chief Executive Patty Stonesifer, now an adviser to the Gateses, said in an interview.
The potential for philanthropy is huge — the United States alone has at least 400 billionaires with a net worth that Forbes estimates at $1.2 trillion. If those billionaires gave the minimum pledge of half of their fortunes to charity, that would triple the current amount of charitable giving in the United States, Seattle Times reports.
Eli Broad and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed an initiative started by fellow billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates for rich Americans to give at least half of their wealth to charity.
Broad, former chairman of insurer SunAmerica Inc. and founder of homebuilder KB Home, joined his wife, Edythe, yesterday in pledging to give 75 percent of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Buffett, the world’s third-richest person and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said he is pressing “hundreds of rich Americans” to make similar pledges, Business Week reports.