Richard Branson is latest billionaire to join Bill Gates' $500bn philanthropy club Giving Pledge

Virgin founder publicly commits to give away half of his fortune to philanthropic causes

To remain truly "on-trend" when you’re a billionaire, you have to give your fortune away. A dozen billionaires including Sir Richard Branson have joined an elite club by publicly committing to give away more than half of their fortunes to philanthropic causes.

Sir Richard, Vladimir Potanin, a Russian mining oligarch and software entrepreneurs Azim Premji of India and Hasso Plattner of Germany are among the tycoons who, along with their spouses, have signed up to the Giving Pledge, which commits the world’s wealthiest to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Established three years ago by Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and the investor Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge has now signed up individuals collectively worth $500 billion.

The previous 92 pledge-signers were all Americans. Now Gates, whose foundation has distributed $25 billion over the past decade, is setting his sights on global figures. “A lot were going to do it anyway but the pledge creates more of a movement, makes people do it earlier, collaborate and do it smarter,” he told the Financial Times.

Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, who recently urged his children Holly and Sam to take a more visible role in the business, said: “ ‘Stuff’ really is not what brings happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters. Happily our children, who will be our principal heirs, agree with me on this.”

Sir Richard will use his wealth to support “social enterprises” for environmental causes.

Potanin said in a letter: “I genuinely believe that wealth should work for the public good. The decision I made is not just an attempt to be remembered as a philanthropist. I also see it as a way to protect my children from the burden of the extreme wealth, which may deprive them of any motivation to achieve anything in life on their own.”

The new additions include David Sainsbury, the former Science minister and Sainsbury's chairman, Patrice Motsepe , a South African mining magnate estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.7billion and Vincent Tan Chee Yioun of Malaysia, owner of the Friendster social network, who is worth $1.2 billion.

Buffett, 82, is the fourth-richest person on the planet with a net worth of $53.5 billion, according to Bloomberg. Gates, 57, has a fortune of $66.2 billion. The new billionaires who have signed up are worth $61 billion collectively according to Forbes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent