Giving Pledge


Is the ‘golden age of philanthropy’ a sign of good times or bad? | 

CBS News’ 60 Minutes recently did a piece featuring Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Warren Buffett and a select group of other billionaires, describing the motivation behind a philanthropic initiative called The Giving Pledge.

Charlie Rose hosted the chat, titled The Giving Pledge: A New Club for Billionaires, briefly noting at the opening that the wealthiest 400 Americans hold as much wealth as half of all Americans living at the bottom of the wealth scale. (It’s actually much worse than that.) Said Rose:

“While resentment toward the super-rich grows, there may be a silver lining taking shape. It turns out a lot of those rich people are giving staggering sums of money away in what is being called a golden age of philanthropy.”

Silver lining for the golden age. Nice. But the 60 Minutes piece is perhaps more disturbing for what it leaves out – by glossing over the rising tide (or dark storm clouds, to extend Rose’s mixed metaphor) of inequality and by portraying public concern with this trend as resentment of the rich.

This isn’t about envy. It’s about equity and many see the rise of super-philanthropy as the flip side of astonishing new levels of inequality that deserve serious scrutiny. Continue reading

Clay’s Wordle on the Giving Pledge | 

Clay Holtzman of the Puget Sound Business Journal decided to conduct a unique analysis aimed at determining what kind of causes are of most interest to those rich folks who have committed to The Giving Pledge.

So he did a Wordle (see below).

As Clay explained on his blog, there are lots of folks who would like to get some of this money the super-rich say they intend to give away.

The Giving Pledge, as you may recall, is a project promoted by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett aimed at increasing charitable donations by the very wealthy. And as you may also recall, it hasn’t gotten very many of the super-rich to step up — even though it’s pretty vague, unenforceable and may not even really be that good an idea (if the goal is about trying to make the world a better place).

But for those looking for support, it would still be good to know where these folks intend to donate their wealth.

So Clay took many of the letters of commitment written by donors describing their goals and interests and punched them into the word-analyzing software program known as Wordle to create this visual guide for fund-seekers:

Clay Holtzman, Puget Sound Business Journal

Giving Pledge Wordle

Good luck figuring out how to make the pitch!

The Giving Pledge: Adverse, unintended and uncharitable consequences | 

What could be wrong with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett asking the super-rich to donate their wealth to charitable causes or foundations?

Andrew Carnegie: "He who dies rich dies in disgrace"

That’s the point of The Giving Pledge, an initiative Gates and Buffett officially launched last June, which set an original goal of raising something like $600 billion in charitable promises from the world’s estimated 800 or so billionaires. So far, something like 57 have made the pledge.

A lot is wrong with the Giving Pledge, says Pablo Eisenberg, a leading expert on public policy and philanthropy at Georgetown University. Continue reading

A few more billionaires join the Giving Pledge | 

A new crop of the super-rich have agreed to sign up with Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge” — a project aimed at convincing the wealthy to promise to give at least half their accumulated wealth to charity now or when they pass on to the great gated community in the sky.

As many media noted, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of the new members of the Giving Pledge club.

“People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?,” said Zuckerberg in a prepared statement.

That makes either 56 or 57 generous billionaires (news accounts differ) who have made the pledge — out of about 400 billionaires in the U.S. and perhaps that many again worldwide.

I know this is supposed to be something to celebrate, but I wonder why so few of the super rich have stepped forward. As I’ve noted before on this blog, all the extremely wealthy are being asked to do here is make a non-binding promise to give away at least half their wealth … at some point.

Heck, even I could promise to do that. Doesn’t mean I would. I actually don’t have much. Continue reading

Buffett and Gates Scare Chinese Billionaires | 

I missed this the other day. Thought it was funny enough to point out, even if I’m a bit late.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett appear to have scared off some Chinese billionaires who were worried they were going to get hit up for the Giving Pledge at an upcoming event:

Chinese Billionaires Shy Away from Gates’ Invitational Dinner

Gates, Buffett to Issue Explanation of Trip to China

More Super-Rich Folks Heed Pledge to Give | 

It’s not a new idea that the rich should give their money back to society. Andrew Carnegie, when he was the richest man in the world, said, “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.”



Andrew Carnegie

Though few of the super-rich these days appear to be adhering to Carnegie’s admonishment, 40 billionaires have now joined The Giving Pledge and promised to donate at least half of their wealth to a charity or other worthy cause at death or during their lifetime.

It’s not legally binding, just a written moral commitment. For most of these people — assuming that they keep their promise to give half — this approach means they still will remain super-rich and at risk of dying in disgrace.

But, hey, one step at a time.

It’s only been a few months or so since Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Warren Buffett, launched this campaign and called upon the rich to donate the majority of their wealth to charity or some worthy cause. Continue reading