40 US billionaires pledge half wealth to charity

Forty of America's billionaires and their families pledged Wednesday to give more than half of their fortune to charity in a drive organized by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The group includes CNN founder Ted Turner, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Hollywood director George Lucas, as well as Microsoft mogul Gates and investment guru Buffett.

The idea, announced just six weeks ago as "The Giving Pledge," was thought up by Gates and Buffett to convince billionaires to give most of their money - 50 percent or more - to charity.

"Forty of the wealthiest families and individuals in the United States have committed to returning the majority of their wealth to charitable causes," said a statement released Wednesday by www.givingpledge.org. "The pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract."

"We've really just started, but already we've had a terrific response," Buffett, the chief executive of the investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, said.

"At its core, the Giving Pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used."

Almost all on the list are self-made super-rich, such as media giant Bloomberg, and are worth about a billion dollars - or far more. A few represent longer-established fortunes, including David Rockefeller.

US billionaires have been out of favor with the public and politicians since the 2008 financial collapse. The pledge scheme might burnish their image.

But apart from good PR, the scheme raises the prospect of eye-popping amounts of money flowing to charity.

Gates and Buffett are reportedly aiming to secure pledges from each of the approximately 400 US billionaires. If the entire group were to surrender half of its wealth that would amount to some 600 billion dollars, Forbes magazine estimates.

Gates, the second richest man in the world according to the Forbes 2010 billionaires list, has some 53 billion dollars, narrowly losing his long-held number one spot to Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim, who has 53.5 billion.

Buffett, the second richest American, already announced in 2006 that he wanted gradually to give away all of his fortune estimated this year by Forbes at 47 billion dollars.

Rumors of the unprecedented drive first leaked in May 2009 when it emerged that Gates and Buffett had organized a secretive dinner for billionaires in New York City.

Ellison, the self-made man behind software giant Oracle, and with wealth estimated by Forbes at 28 billion dollars, called on others to join in.

Writing on the pledge website, Ellison said he had long ago decided to give away at least 95 percent of his fortune to charity and that he had already given away hundreds of millions of dollars.

"I will give billions more over time. Until now, I have done this giving quietly, because I have long believed that charitable giving is a personal and private matter," he wrote.

"Warren Buffett personally asked me to write this letter because he said I would be 'setting an example' and 'influencing others' to give. I hope he's right."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us