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Bill Gates

Dozens of US billionaires have pledged at least 50% of their wealth to charity through a campaign started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and legendary investor Warren Buffett.

The campaign which was launched in 2010 was set up in order to convince US billionaires to give away at least half of their fortunes. Although, originally set up for US billionaires, the campaign went global in 2013, attracting donors from eight other countries, including the UK’s Richard Branson. Bill Gates who is rated as the world’s second wealthiest person, has given away more than $28bn to charitable causes.

The pledge is described as a moral commitment and not legally binding. It is not attached to any particular cause. Those who pledge their money must state their intention through a letter of explanation. The minimum amount pledged must be 50% of wealth, however, many donors have committed sums that far exceed this amount. The Giving Pledge aims to get people talking about giving in an open way and creating an atmosphere than attracts more people into philanthropy.

Members of the Giving Pledge

Numbers are increasing all the time, here are just some of the billionaires who have pledged money.

George Lucas
The Hollywood director and producer shot to fame as creator of the Star Wars Trilogy and Indiana Jones series. According to Forbes, he is currently worth $3bn. He has pledged to dedicate his wealth into improving education.

Michael Bloomberg
In addition to being the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg is the founder of the Bloomberg media company, which provides business and financial news. He is the eighth richest person in the US.

Ted Turner
Robert Edward ‘Ted’ Turner III is founder of 24-hour cable news network CNN. In recent times he has become well known for his philanthropy, donating $1bn to UN causes. He is also the largest landowner in North America.

In addition to the Giving Pledge, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are well known charity supporters. In 1997 they set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF or the Gates Foundation), among the biggest private foundations in the world. The organisation aims to improve healthcare and see a reduction in poverty globally, and to open up opportunities in IT education in America. It is based in Seattle, Washington.

It’s easy to criticise the rich for their extravagant lifestyles, especially when so many of us are facing financial hardship in a global downturn. What is often overlooked, however, is the charitable activities of these individuals.

The super rich are providing money for numerous causes, from improving education and reducing CO2 emissions to providing clean water and eradicating disease in developing nations.

Many of the world’s wealthiest individuals, from Bill Gates to Richard Branson, Elton John and JK Rowling have donated large sums of money, realising they have a part to play in the community beyond the pursuit of money.

The Giving Pledge can be contacted via the website at http://givingpledge.org/.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
440 5th Ave N.,
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 709-3100 ext. 7100

photo credit: Thomas Hawk