“The Giving Pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.”
A saying that was bantered about the community where I got my education was “whoever dies with the most toys wins.” The older business people around me would smirk when they said it, but I could not quite wrap my mind around the joke. Obviously the unlucky sod would not be taking the toy box to the afterlife, so what determined the victory? For a growing collection of the world’s wealthiest people the triumph lies in giving the toys (or the cash) away before they die.
Warren Buffett, one of the leading billionaires on the planet organized the “Giving Pledge” to encourage philanthropy. He supports Andrew Carnegie’s sentiments that heirs tend to waste the money they come into, and it can be better spent where it makes a critical difference to the well being of people and/or the environment.
The Berkshire Hathaway stock market tycoon made a decision in 2006 to gradually give away 99% of his company stock to foundations supporting worthy causes. Then he got together with Bill and Melinda Gates to really get the ball rolling in the spirit of giving. There is no formal contract to be signed for membership in the group – the requirement is a signed letter of commitment and a public announcement that you intend to give away at least 50% of your wealth during your lifetime or after your death.
Regarding spending money on possessions Buffett’s philosophy is, “Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.”
Along with AOL co-founder Steve Case, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg (the world’s youngest billionaire) joined the promissory group in December 2010. In a press release the social media entrepreneur said:
“People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done…With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.”
The list of philanthropists is growing as wealthy individuals decide to go public with their intentions. In his letter of commitment to the Giving Pledge, Leon “Lee” G. Cooperman, billionaire and CEO of Omega Advisors, with his wife, Toby touch on the heartfelt reason many well-to-do citizens feel compelled to extend generosity.
“[We] feel it is our moral imperative to give others the opportunity to pursue the American Dream by sharing our financial success…In the 1930’s, Sir Winston Churchill observed that “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
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