What is ‘The Giving Pledge’, the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett club that unites millionaire philanthropists

More than a decade ago, in 2009, businessmen, friends and billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett held a private dinner with other billionaires in New York. Apparently host Oprah Winfrey was in attendance, as were David Rockefeller and Michael Bloomberg.

A year later, they revealed the reason for the meeting: Gates and Buffett had been consulting with other billionaires on how they could develop more impactful philanthropy. That was the germ of ‘The Ginving Pledge’ (which could be translated as ‘The promise to give’), an organization that years later has managed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars and that each year add nouveau riche.

What does it consist of? The idea was to persuade his fellow billionaires to commit to donating at least 50% of their wealth to charity. The idea was received with enthusiasm.

Ten years later, hundreds of billionaires have signed on, with Bloomberg and others big names like Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk among them. More than $500 billion has been pledged, and money is already being donated to a number of causes.

But that does not prevent that for some it is also considered somewhat disappointing. Despite their pledge to donate at least half their fortunes, Gates and Buffett are richer than when they started. Meanwhile, many other prominent billionaires have not signed the pledge.

A commitment without fixed deadlines

The main criticism leveled at the Giving Pledge movement is that it was not very concrete. It did not involve a donation schedule, nor did it impose any requirements on how to give the money. Neither was it binding nor was any specific commitment signed, which has caused it to be criticized as a kind of promotional route.

That does not mean, however, that it has opened a point of reflection among the richest people in the world. Gates and Buffett, pioneers in this proposal, have been adding more billionaires to their cause.

The intent, according to the Giving Pledge website, is “collectively set a new standard for generosity among the ultra-rich”. It is possible that they wanted to increase it even more: Buffett has promised 99% of his wealth, and in the first conversations a more ambitious idea of ​​​​the goal of billionaire philanthropy was floated: “let the rich sit down, decide how much money they need.” and their descendants, and think what to do with the rest. Gates, recently, also assured that it will end donating the vast majority of his fortune through his foundation.

Also, at least in the early days, there was talk of urging donors not just to give more, but to do so smartly and efficiently on issues of global impact. yesHowever, Buffett is said to have objected. He did not want the commitment to dictate where, how or when to donate.

This is another aspect of the Giving Pledge that has been criticized. If a member wants to donate to their alma mater or found an art museum, I can do it above other priority lists that might be on the global agenda, like eradicating disease. The only thing that the commitment asks for is that the billionaire donate a part of his fortune; he does not push him to know where he should donate, nor does he push him to donate now.

The pledge might have had more effect if some sophisticated infrastructure had been in place to identify promising giving opportunities that could absorb billions of dollars in funding, “and transparently present the case for those giving opportunities to potential funders,” they criticized. in an analysis on the North American portal vox.


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What is ‘The Giving Pledge’, the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett club that unites millionaire philanthropists