THE BILLIONAIRE GIVING PLEDGE
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"The Giving Pledge is a commitment by the world's wealthiest
individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth
The Illuminati supports the positive efforts of this planet’s elite and the initiative of the Giving Pledge. Originally conceived by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge encourages those with much to consider the needs of those with less.
By taking the Giving Pledge, wealthy members of the human species promise to donate the majority of their monetary worth to charitable causes that support positive changes in the lives of those who need it.
The Giving Pledge is intended for billionaires or those who would be billionaires if not for their donations to charity. The Illuminati is not directly affiliated with this charity and cannot accept donations of any kind.
families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back.
LIST OF CURRENT PLEDGERS
LIST OF CURRENT PLEDGERS
April 17, 2012
Karen and I are delighted to join you in the Giving Pledge, and commit at least half—I expect that we will commit substantially more than half—of what we have to charity. It is much easier to be generous if you have more than you need, so this is not a difficult thing for us to do. That said, I don't think being charitable is innate. In my experience, it is learned from the examples of others.
My earliest memories include my father's exhortations about how important it is to give back. These early teachings were ingrained in me, and a portion of the first dollars I earned, I gave away. Over the years, the emotional and psychological returns I have earned from charitable giving have been enormous. The more I do for others, the happier I am. The happiness and optimism I have obtained from helping others are a big part of what keeps me sane. My life and business have not been without some decent size bumps along the way, and my psychological health and wellbeing have made managing these inevitable challenges much easier.
While my motivations for giving are not driven by a profit motive, I am quite sure that I have earned financial returns from giving money away. Not directly by any means, but rather as a result of the people I have met, the ideas I have been exposed to, and the experiences I have had as a result of giving money away. A number of my closest friends, partners, and advisors I met through charitable giving. Their advice, judgment, and partnership have been invaluable in my business and in my life. Life becomes richer, the more one gives away.
In college, I had the opportunity to read John Rawls, and learn his methodology for determining how to organize the world. It made sense to me then, and still does. Rawls advised that you should imagine yourself in what he called "the Original Position." Pretend that you have not yet been born, and don't know to what family or in what country or circumstance you will find yourself. He argued that the world should be organized from such a vantage point. In other words, I believe the fairest distribution would require something along the lines of the Giving Pledge. Rawls proves that charitable giving is the right thing to do from an objectively fair vantage point.
I am not a particularly religious person, and believe that my limited time on earth is all that I am going to get. And I have lived with that understanding, doing my best to extract as much out of life as I can. I get tremendous pleasure from helping others. It's what makes my life worth living.
We are incredibly grateful and honored to join you in the Giving Pledge.
To The Giving Pledge,
It is with gratitude that we find ourselves with this capacity to give. We are committed to our philanthropic endeavors and devote our time and energy to this work.
We spend our days at organizations pursing different missions, but with a shared belief in an individual’s right to dignity, agency, justice, and self-determination. In the practice of our philanthropy, we are committed to the values of being in service to the public trust, upholding transparency in our work, providing general operating support, continuing to learn and adapt, and trusting grantees and the communities they serve.
This is an ongoing journey and we are excited to learn and grow from our community and fellow pledges.
Tegan and Brian Acton
Tegan and Brian Acton
Parents all over the world do their best to give their children great opportunities. They work to give their children every chance to pursue their own dreams.
However for too many parents, their dreams of giving their families better lives are dashed. In the United States, their children don’t get the education they need to succeed in life. In the developing world, their children succumb to diseases that have long since been eradicated in rich countries.
Years ago, when we began to learn about global health, we were especially shocked to read that one highly preventable disease — rotavirus — was killing half a million children every year. Airplane crashes are always front-page news, yet here was a killer of half a million children every year, and most people couldn’t put a name to it, much less put a stop to it.
We have committed the vast majority of our assets to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help stop preventable deaths such as these, and to tear down other barriers to health and education that prevent people from making the very most of their lives. Our animating principle is that all lives have equal value. Put another way, it means that we believe every child deserves the chance to grow up, to dream and do big things.
We have been blessed with good fortune beyond our wildest expectations, and we are profoundly grateful. But just as these gifts are great, so we feel a great responsibility to use them well. That is why we are so pleased to join in making an explicit commitment to the Giving Pledge.
The idea of the pledge came out of discussions we had with other givers about what they were doing,about what had worked in philanthropy and what had not worked. Everyone shared how giving had made their lives richer. Everyone who attended was inspired by listening to the others’ passion and encouraged to do even more.
For the two of us, because we see amazing progress every day, but also, how much more work remains, we’re honored to be a part of this pledge effort.
For example, to us, vaccines are miracles, tiny vessels of hope and promise. And the world has made progress in vaccinating millions of children. But there are still millions more who die of preventable diseases.
So we want to make sure lifesaving vaccines reach everyone who needs them, and that the world develops new vaccines.
We’ve seen similar progress in America’s education system. We have visited schools that are breaking down old barriers and preparing every child for college and life. These are great schools—but there are not nearly enough of them. Now the task is to make sure that every student gets the same opportunity to succeed in college and in life.
Both of us were fortunate to grow up with parents who taught us some tremendously important values. Work hard. Show respect. Have a sense of humor. And if life happens to bless you with talent or treasure, you have a responsibility to use those gifts as well and as wisely as you possibly can. Now we hope to pass this example on to our own children.
We feel very lucky to have the chance to work together in giving back the resources we are stewards of. By joining the Giving Pledge effort, we’re certain our giving will be more effective because of the time we will spend with this group. We look forward to sharing what a wonderful experience this has been for us and learning from the experience of others.
Bill and Melinda Gates
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When I learned about the Giving Pledge, I found the concept inspirational.
I grew up in a philanthropic home, where my parents were generous givers early on, when they didn’t have great means; their donations only escalated as my father’s business activities and wealth grew. From my parents’ example, it was natural for me to continue the family tradition of trying to do some good in the world around me, but I didn’t have a specific plan other than the idea that this would be a generational project, one in which my children (and eventually their children) would work together to improve things around us, in appreciation of our good fortune.
What the Giving Pledge has enabled me to do is quantify my plan. Through the example and leadership of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge is inspiring successful men and women to engage in what I would call “competitive” philanthropy. Directing the same competitive instincts that these driven people employed to achieve the pinnacle of financial and social success, the Giving Pledge is encouraging us to outdo one another in giving our wealth away. Brilliant!!!
It is an honour and a privilege to join the Giving Pledge, which gives expression to the sharing of my success and good fortune. As Warren Buffett assured me when he welcomed me into the program, I am certain to get my money’s worth.
UAE businessman and philanthropist, Sheikh Dr Mohammed Bin Musallam Bin Ham Al-Ameri, has been named as one of 19 new signatories to the Giving Pledge organisation. Signatories of the Giving Pledge make a moral commitment to give more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes.
“Based on the principles of our Islamic religion and our inherent human values, I seek to harness our resources, capabilities and specialized competencies to continue to make many outstanding achievements in humanitarian, charitable and relief work around the world without discrimination between race and religion.”
Sheikh Dr Mohammed Bin Musallam Bin Ham Al-Ameri (born 1972) is a billionaire, businessman, philanthropist, author and former UAE Federal National Council member. He is the Deputy Secretary-General of the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina against Malnutrition (IIMSAM), Deputy Chairman of the Bin Ham Group and Member of Al Ain Municipal Council.
SHEIKH DR. MOHAMMED BIN MUSALLAM BIN HAM AL-AMERI
Dr. Mohammed Musallam Bin Ham
Based on the principles of our Islamic religion and our inherent human values, I seek to harness our resources, capabilities and specialized competencies to continue to make many outstanding achievements in humanitarian, charitable and relief work around the world without discrimination between race and religion.
I have strived for a long time, though our charitable institutions, to discharge our humanitarian and charity work guided by a clear vision and pioneering initiatives to serve humanity.
Through our pioneering initiatives and development plans, I aim to implement multiple human development programs and projects to serve underprivileged communities. Meanwhile, I continue to communicate and cooperate with international humanitarian institutions.
The pledge I have made to give back to society represents an opportunity to join a unique group of philanthropists and a chance to concert efforts to find solutions to some of our world’s most pressing challenges.
Dr. Mohammed Musallam Bin Ham Al Ameri
The Giving Pledge has announced that Australian gaming tycoon Leonard H. Ainsworth has pledged to commit at least half his wealth to philanthropy. In 1953, Ainsworth founded Sydney-based Aristocrat Leisure, a gambling machine manufacturer, which has since grown into the second-largest gaming machine company in the world.
“It is my great pleasure to provide this Giving Pledge commitment wherein I pledge to give at least 50% of my wealth to charitable causes both during my present life and beyond. … As a private person, I prefer to minimise publicity of my philanthropic activities but at the same time realise that setting a positive example is the best way to encourage others to give back.”
Leonard H. Ainsworth. It is a great privilege for my family and I to join those individuals who have made the “Giving Pledge” to share our good fortune and the gifts bestowed upon us with those who do not enjoy a healthy, happy and safe life. All of us must recognize the component of “luck in life” as a force that allows our journey here on earth...
LEONARD H. AINSWORTH
It is my great pleasure to provide this Giving Pledge commitment wherein I pledge to give at least 50% of my wealth to charitable causes both during my present life and beyond.
I have been involved in philanthropy for more than fifty years and have been fortunate in being able to increase my philanthropic giving as the years have progressed.
My initial interest was in the field of medicine and medical research as it related to children. I have followed through from there to support a wide range of medical research facilities on the basis that, if causes can be established for a particular disease or condition, then future generations will benefit for many years ahead.
I also focus my philanthropic support toward universities over a wide spectrum. I am particularly interested in design as it relates to engineering, as the economies introduced by clever and innovative design far outweigh production volume savings.
As a private person, I prefer to minimise publicity of my philanthropic activities but at the same time realise that setting a positive example is the best way to encourage others to give back.
I have a large family of sons and am doing my best to encourage them to follow my example and embark on their own philanthropic endeavours.
Leonard H. Ainsworth
“Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks (Berkshire Hathaway stock certificates) on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others.”
The pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract. On The Giving Pledge's website, each individual or couple writes a letter explaining why they chose to give. History. In June 2010, the Giving Pledge campaign was formally announced and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett began recruiting members.
My Philanthropic Pledge
In 2006, I made a commitment to gradually give all of my Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic foundations. I couldn’t be happier with that decision.
Now, Bill and Melinda Gates and I are asking hundreds of rich Americans to pledge at least 50% of their wealth to charity. So I think it is fitting that I reiterate my intentions and explain the thinking that lies behind them.
First, my pledge: More than 99% of my wealth will go to philanthropy during my lifetime or at death. Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day.
Millions of people who regularly contribute to churches, schools, and other organizations thereby relinquish the use of funds that would otherwise benefit their own families. The dollars these people drop into a collection plate or give to United Way mean forgone movies, dinners out, or other personal pleasures. In contrast, my family and I will give up nothing we need or want by fulfilling this 99% pledge.
Moreover, this pledge does not leave me contributing the most precious asset, which is time. Many people, including—I’m proud to say—my three children, give extensively of their own time and talents to help others. Gifts of this kind often prove far more valuable than money. A struggling child, befriended and nurtured by a caring mentor, receives a gift whose value far exceeds what can be bestowed by a check. My sister, Doris, extends significant person- to-person help daily. I’ve done little of this.
What I can do, however, is to take a pile of Berkshire Hathaway stock certificates—“claim checks” that when converted to cash can command far-ranging resources—and commit them to benefit others who, through the luck of the draw, have received the short straws in life. To date about 20% of my shares have been distributed (including shares given by my late wife, Susan Buffett). I will continue to annually distribute about 4% of the shares I retain. At the latest, the proceeds from all of my Berkshire shares will be expended for philanthropic purposes by 10 years after my estate is settled. Nothing will go to endowments; I want the money spent on current needs.
This pledge will leave my lifestyle untouched and that of my children as well. They have already received significant sums for their personal use and will receive more in the future. They live comfortable and productive lives. And I will continue to live in a manner that gives me everything that I could possibly want in life.
Some material things make my life more enjoyable; many, however, would not. I like having an expensive private plane, but owning a half-dozen homes would be a burden. 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.
My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.)
My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate’s distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.
The reaction of my family and me to our extraordinary good fortune is not guilt, but rather gratitude.Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs. My pledge starts us down that course.
"I am delighted to confirm my plans to devote the major part of my estate to charitable causes. This is a decision my late husband, Ray Dolby, and I made many years ago, and will enable our sons, Tom and David, and their families to carry on these efforts to improve our communities."
It is a great privilege for my family and I to join those individuals who have made the “Giving Pledge” to share our good fortune and the gifts bestowed upon us with those who do not enjoy a healthy, happy and safe life. All of us must recognize the component of “luck in life” as a force that allows our journey here on earth...
German native and widow to surround sound pioneer Ray Dolby, Dagmar Dolby has made a name for herself through giving. “I am delighted to confirm my plans to devote the major part of my estate to charitable causes,” Dolby wrote in her 2017 pledge letter.
I am delighted to confirm my plans to devote the major part of my estate to charitable causes. This is a decision my late husband, Ray Dolby, and I made many years ago, and will enable our sons, Tom and David, and their families to carry on these efforts to improve our communities. For some time we have made significant contributions through the Ray and Dagmar Family Fund to areas that are not typically at the top of charitable giving lists: support for reproductive rights, stem cell research, and most recently brain health research, with a focus on mood disorders and Alzheimer's disease.
We also believe that contributing to a decent life for those less fortunate whether at the beginning or the end of their lives is a great privilege. We would like to see children have a healthy start in life and receive proper educational opportunities at all levels. We place special emphasis on equality and support for women and girls. This includes full reproductive freedom through education, advocacy, and access to services. The care of seniors with cognitive impairment as well as advocacy and support for Alzheimer's research has become a mission for our family. In the same vein we are committed to lifting the veil of shame around mental illness and allowing those affected to live to their full potential.
While these areas of focus have great personal meaning to our family, we will adapt our giving responsibly to the changing needs in the world around us.
I am happy to join this group who is pledging to share their fortunate circumstances in many inspiring ways.
My Giving Pledge
Dear Mr. Gates,
When I was with you at the Gates Foundation Headquarters in Seattle on May 9, I expressed my intention to join the “Giving Pledge” initiated by you and Mr. Warren Buffett and donate at least 50% of the wealth of my whole life.
It is not only my long and deeply cherished wish but also the collective glory of my whole family who are extremely proud of my determination to sign the “Giving Pledge.”
Helping disadvantaged groups live decent lives in the process of creating wealth has been my personal credo. It is also what I hope to strive for with you, Mr. Buffett and other successful entrepreneurs in the world.
I was born in a farmer's family, very different from most of those who have signed the “Giving Pledge” and who are mainly from middle class families. Many Chinese entrepreneurs have grown up in poverty or even hunger. So we deeply understand the importance of wealth and opportunity. From the bottom of my heart, I hope to change the problem of equal opportunity in social development through my efforts and constant giving.
In my early days, fate was not good to me. I was born in a remote village of the Yimeng Mountain area in Shandong Province. So I have deeply understood the taste of poverty since my childhood. There are at least nine people in my family who died of war. At the age of 27, I became disabled due to a serious car accident.
But fate was good for me too. Suffering did not shake my determination to change fate, but strengthened my confidence in helping disadvantaged groups. I was determined to alter fate and started the process of creating wealth early through my own vision and efforts. After twenty years of development, my corporation, Dongfang Huiquan Financial Holdings Group, has become a diversified financial investment group of industrial investment, securities funds, focused on tourism and culture, charity and philanthropy.
Changing the fate of ourselves through efforts is the achievement of our generation of Chinese entrepreneurs. Changing the fate of others through giving is the responsibility of our generation of Chinese entrepreneurs for China and the world. The Dongfangjun Charity Foundation founded by me has developed and implemented a variety of philanthropic projects in caring for veterans, disaster relief, poverty alleviation, reviving traditional culture, supporting education, and building a harmonious society, from which I gain happiness and power to go forward.
A famous Chinese saying is “When you drink water, think of its source.” I cannot make achievements without the help of others. “The highest goodness is like water.” Helping others should be persistent, should be subtle, and should “make thunder out of silence.” Like you, I am dedicated to changing the fate and future of disadvantaged groups through culture and education. Let me with you and all outstanding philanthropists in the world directly face and address urgent global challenges in environment, energy, health, and other issues.
I deeply appreciate the Global Philanthropy Leaders Program of the China Global Philanthropy Institute, which not only introduced me to your “Giving Pledge” but has also built an important bridge for us to meet in person. I am certain that my family will become happier because of my actions. And I hope this world will become a better place because of my efforts.
One of the most memorable moments in my life was at a charity dinner I was attending for a breast cancer cause. A woman approached me and said, "I just wanted to say thank you—because of you my sister is alive." I happened to be standing next to the man who was really responsible for that wonderful news—Dr. Dennis Slamon.
I first learned of Dr. Slamon's research about 20 years ago when we were introduced by a mutual friend, Lily Tartikoff. He told me he had found abnormally large quantities of a gene called HER2 in about 30% of breast-cancer tumors. But he hadn't yet proven that the gene played a pivotal role in the disease. He wanted to begin testing antibodies that might slow some of the more aggressive forms of cancer. The trouble was the research wasn't developed enough for drug-company backing, and funding it with government grants would add years to the study. The idea of funding this immediately appealed to me. I have always been interested in giving to projects that may not get done otherwise. If the research wasn't productive, I would have spent money to no avail, but, if the idea worked, the potential was enormous—it was a risk I was willing to take. I asked Dr. Slamon what he needed and then told him to get to work.
The result of that research was Herceptin, the only drug known to cure certain types of breast cancer. And it started helping women, like that woman's sister whom I will probably never meet, a full 10 years earlier than if Dr. Slamon had not received my gift.
I can think of no greater example as to why giving now and seeing the benefits first hand can be the single most rewarding thing any of us can do. I support this pledge to designate half my assets for the benefit of charitable purposes during my lifetime and through my foundation.
Ronald O. Perelman
June 17, 2010
I am very pleased to pledge that I plan to contribute the substantial majority of my assets to philanthropy. I am well on my way.
I do so with great pleasure. And for several reasons.
My parents were Greek immigrants who came to America at age 17, with 3rd grade educations, not a word of English and hardly a penny in their pockets. Their dream was the American dream, not just for themselves but for their children as well.
My father took a job no one else would take—washing dishes in a steamy caboose on the Union Pacific railroad. He ate and slept there and saved virtually every penny he made. He took those savings and started the inevitable Greek restaurant, open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year for 25 years. Throughout this period, he always sent money to his desperately poor family in Greece and fed countless numbers of hungry poor who came knocking on the back door of his restaurant. Above all else, he wanted to save so as to invest in his children's education.
As I watched and learned from my father's example, I noticed how much pleasure his giving to others gave him. Indeed, today, I get much more pleasure giving money to what I consider worthwhile causes than making the money in the first place. As I checked with other philanthropists, I found this was a very common experience.
For example, I have been particularly pleased to support causes and institutions for which I have a passion and for which I contribute myself, that is my personal capital, as well as my financial capital. For example, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Council on Foreign Relations and The Concord Coalition that I co-founded with Senators Warren Rudman and Paul Tsongas.
I was also informed by the great novelist, Kurt Vonnegut, who once told a story that seemed to capture my situation perfectly. He and Joseph Heller were at a party given by a wealthy hedge fund manager at his majestic beach house in the Hamptons, the summer playground on Long Island where the rich and famous congregate. Kurt and Joe both had made their marks by satirizing life's absurdities—Kurt with best-selling novels like Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions, Joe with the incomparable Catch-22. During the course of the party, Kurt looked around at the surroundings and asked Heller: "Joe, doesn't it bother you that this guy makes more in a day than you ever made from the worldwide sales of Catch-22?" Joe thought for a moment and then said, "No, not really. I have something that he doesn't have." "What could you possibly have that he doesn't have?" Kurt asked. "I know the meaning of enough." My father often said the same thing.
When I enjoyed a most surprising billion dollar plus windfall from the public offering of The Blackstone Group, a firm co-founded, I pondered, what should I do with all of this money?
In 2007, I decide I already had far more than enough and was delighted to commit a billion dollars to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and to some causes that I care deeply about.
My foundation made its first major contribution to a transcendent global threat, the proliferation of nuclear weapons. I have known former Senator Sam Nunn, for whom I have enormous respect, who is devoting much of his life to this cause.
I am also much concerned about domestic threats that I also consider transcendent. I refer to several such threats as undeniable, unsustainable and yet, politically speaking, untouchable. For example, our unfunded entitlement promises that so many depend upon, our ballooning debts to foreign lenders, which combined with our very low savings, leaves us very vulnerable and even threaten our national sovereignty. Then, of course, there are our mushrooming healthcare costs that threaten to bankrupt our economy.
We, at the Foundation, are deeply involved in educating, motivating and, hopefully, activating the public to do something about these problems.
I am a very lucky American dreamer but I want to see that dream alive for my five children's and nine grand children's generations. On our current path, I fear we are imperiling their future by passing on massive, hidden debts and unthinkable taxes. At bottom, I consider this fiscal child abuse or mortgaging their future, or whatever one chooses to call it, it is not only an economic issue but a national security issue and, above all, a moral issue.
Given the serious political challenges and our country's apparent reluctance to accept the required shared sacrifice, no doubt many are saying my Foundation is not only a presumptuous mission, but a foolhardy one. So, I quote my old University of Chicago professor George Stigler, "If you have no alternative, you have no problem." I asked myself this melancholy question: How will I feel 10 to 20 years from now if I look back and ask why, oh why did we all leave such a legacy? How could we have done this, not simply to America, but to our own children and grandchildren? Could there be a worse feeling? Can not trying really be an acceptable alternative?
Finally, Warren, you and Bill Gates know better than anyone how distinctly American private philanthropy is.
I thank you warmly and congratulate you both mightily for your leadership role in this most worthwhile cause.
Peter G. Peterson
“Our family continues to be united in the belief that those who have benefited the most from our nation's economic system have a special responsibility to give back to our society in meaningful ways.”
July 21, 2010
Philanthropists, at their best, try to address serious societal problems and occasionally come up with innovations that lead to enduring change. In the end, success requires much more than financial resources, although money is, of course, essential. Good ideas are just as important; otherwise one risks wasting both the funds and the opportunity. Effective philanthropy also requires patience — patience to deal with unexpected obstacles; patience to wait for the first, slight stirrings of change; and patience to listen to the insights and ideas of others.
For five generations, my family has experienced the real satisfaction and pleasure of philanthropy. Our engagement has helped to create a strong group of institutions, including the University of Chicago, The Rockefeller University, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The practice of philanthropy also has enabled many of us to become personally involved in efforts to address critical global challenges such as poverty, health, sustainable development, and environmental degradation. Our family continues to be united in the belief that those who have benefited the most from our nation's economic system have a special responsibility to give back to our society in meaningful ways.
Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates share this belief and have challenged others to pledge half their assets to philanthropy during their lifetime or at their death. I am pleased to say this has long been my intent and my practice, and I am delighted to have been asked to participate in this important initiative. I hope that others will accept this challenge—and opportunity—and will join us in this worthwhile endeavor.
I also hope that our efforts to expand the scope of philanthropy as individuals, in collaboration with others, and in ways that include not only financial resources but innovative ideas and patience, will be part of the gift we all bequeath to the future.
I’m very pleased to join the Giving Pledge, having been an active philanthropist, in one way or another, for most of my life. I remember being a young boy and watching my grandfather pack prosthetics, wheelchairs, clothes, books, and toys to send to children in Israel every month. When I asked him why, he explained that it was not only his obligation, but also his privilege to help others in need. I also remember my father, a storeowner in Philadelphia, regularly extending credit to newly arrived immigrants. “Buy what you need,” he would tell them, and “pay me when you can.” These powerful memories have helped shape who I am and serve as a lasting reminder of the responsibility I have to uphold my family’s commitment to giving.
When I co-founded Blackstone in 1985, I never dreamed that we would one day become the world’s largest manager of alternative assets. Blackstone’s success has changed my life in innumerable ways by giving me the means to pursue many interests, including a variety of philanthropic pursuits. My giving has ranged from helping individuals who need it, to supporting many existing institutions I care about, and more recently, bringing to life transformational ideas and new organizations that address important societal challenges.
In philanthropy, as in business, I enjoy tackling complex challenges that require thoughtful, innovative solutions. The game-changing nature of my major projects has required substantial financial support, as well as my personal long-term involvement. Each project is a unique partnership where I bring to bear the full extent of my knowledge, network, and time to ensure that the new organizations are positioned to meet their objectives as best they can.
For example, the idea for founding Schwarzman Scholars, a highly selective fellowship program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, was born when I realized that future leaders needed to be better educated on the economic, political and cultural factors contributing to China’s increasing importance as a global power. The program’s mission is to grow a network of young, global influencers who can use their knowledge and connections to improve connectivity between China and their respective countries, ultimately facilitating a more peaceful and prosperous world for all of us.
Similarly, I was struck when I learned of the implications that advances in artificial intelligence and other new computing technologies will have on human development, the workforce and global competitiveness. I saw an urgent need to ensure our society is prepared for the changes to come, which is why I have funded two large-scale programs related to AI, both of which incorporate a focus on AI’s ethical and policy considerations. At MIT I helped establish a new, interdisciplinary College of Computing that breaks down traditional academic silos to advance the study of AI, and makes MIT the first AI-enabled university in the world. At Oxford I gave a gift to create a new Humanities Centre which will be designed to encourage cross-disciplinary scholarship and research. The Centre will house several performing art and exhibition venues, and include a major new Institute for Ethics in AI that will help frame relevant issues through a humanities, not technical, lens.
At Yale, where I was an undergraduate and which had the most profound impact on how I think and approach the world, I am helping to build a first-of-its-kind student center that can accommodate a significant number of students, faculty and members of the local community for social and world-class performing art events.
In other instances, I am simply drawn to organizations with a proven track record of achieving results. In this regard, my wife Christine and I are the largest donors to the Catholic school system in the US. We are thrilled to support a system that, in New York City for example, delivers a 98% high school graduation rate despite 70% of students being at, or below, the poverty line.
My philanthropy has brought a tremendous sense of joy and meaning to my life and I anticipate I will find more ways to give back during my lifetime. I’m proud that many of my projects have prompted the philanthropic participation of others, either in terms of giving to the same institution or giving to a similar effort elsewhere. In this way, my philanthropy already strongly echoes the spirit and intended impact of the Giving Pledge. Although plans for my estate have long reflected the principles of the Pledge, I am joining because I think it’s an important signal to encourage others to step up philanthropically as well.
You, Melinda and Warren have done a remarkable job of giving as well as inspiring others to commit their wealth to philanthropic causes for the common good. Thank you all for creating the Giving Pledge; it’s an honor to partner with you and the other members in this incredible effort.
Stephen A. Schwarzman
June 24, 2010
While I'm pleased to respond to the appeal you are making with Bill & Melinda Gates to promote "Giving Pledges" among our peers, I made that commitment long ago. As you know, I've already contributed quite a bit, beginning in earnest 35 years ago with my first significant contribution to the Zoo.
As long as health permits, Sue and I plan to be active and engaged philanthropists. Like our good friend Chuck Durham, who made some wonderful gifts in his final years, we enjoy seeing the fruits of our philanthropic efforts. Upon my death, virtually all of my remaining estate will go into the Walter Scott, Jr. Foundation.
My interests, that I hope my foundation's successor trustees continue, are twofold. Number one is causes that serve young people. I have nothing against old people. I am one! But I believe society will get the most bang-for-the-buck if I invest in things that help us produce educated and productive citizens, whether through youth social services or assisting them pursue a college education through scholarships.
My second major interest is causes that help improve our community. That can take many forms, beginning with our Zoo. But it can also include causes like helping Dr. Maurer build a world-class research institution, or helping improve engineering and information science education at the Peter Kiewit Institute. I like to invest in causes that move our community forward because if we don't, we will find that it has begun to deteriorate.
Our community is fortunate to have had a series of exceptionally generous philanthropists. I don't know if Mary Lucretia Creighton was first, but Creighton University is quite a legacy. The people of Omaha enjoy a higher quality of life because of the significant charitable investments made by wealthy individuals for more than a century.
In my remaining years, through my foundation, I'll continue to invest in our community, including additional gifts to our Zoo. There's still room for a Buffett exhibit. Call me when you're looking for an idea!
Walter Scott, Jr.
13 February 2015
Sir Ian Wood letter to The Giving Pledge
I had the great fortune to graduate from university in Scotland close to the beginning of the UK North Sea offshore oil developments.
In 1970, our family business, the John Wood Group, was essentially a start up in the oil & gas industry and, in the intervening period, grew to 43,000 people with $7bn sales, working in 50 countries around the world and quoted on the UK stock market in 2002.
My family and I have always shared the view that, in this global world, we have an underlying responsibility for each other, whether our neighbour at home or wider humanity across the globe. My significant international oil & gas travels brought me into direct contact with many examples of severe hardship, inequity and in many cases human deprivation and misery, particularly in the African continent. Thus, as I stepped up from Chief Executive to Chairman at Wood Group some 7 years ago, I set up The Wood Foundation with the main focus on applying venture philanthropy principles to invest both money and expertise to support the development of agriculture and smallholder farmers in Sub Sahara Africa.
After researching a number of countries and agriculture sectors, we chose the tea industry and have focused initially on Tanzania and Rwanda. Our approach is to work within local communities with smallholder farmers helping them to help themselves. It's about financing, supporting and encouraging them to increase the yields and quality of their tea and getting a better price for their output by adopting a more business-like approach. Over the period, we've been able to demonstrate significant improvements in yield and quality and help negotiate better tea prices, and thus significantly improve their income.
We are now working with 45,000 smallholder tea farmers in the two countries. Our support has included taking ownership of two tea factories in Rwanda, where we're operating in partnership with the smallholder farmer co-operatives with a view to them taking ownership of the factory over a period of time, provided acceptable governance and management skills are developed and demonstrated. We' re also developing new greenfield tea areas by financing and facilitating the smallholder farmers through the challenging 3–4 year period of developing the tea bushes. Here, we work in partnership with a big tea processor who is looking to secure new supply sources. We generally persuade the factory owner to participate in the training and skills enhancement programmes for the smallholder farmers as well as the drive to improve yield and quality.
In Africa, we are working in partnership with Lord David Sainsbury's Gatsby Trust, with the Wood Foundation managing and delivering the tea programmes. We have built up an excellent professional tea industry management team and have now got full capability in all aspects of tea growing and processing. We are prepared to work in partnership with other Foundations where we have shared objectives and the co-operation can achieve genuine added value.
Our philanthropy is also very much alive in the UK where we have a number of programmes focused on tolerance, citizenship, enterprise and poverty in young people. We are particularly proud of our young philanthropy programme in schools (developed from the Toscan Casale YPI programme in Canada), which is very successfully introducing philanthropy to the next generation.
I look forward to the opportunity of meeting the members of The Giving Pledge and sharing ideas and knowledge on how we can generally make the world a better place to live in, particularly for the oppressed, under privileged and needy.
Sir Ian Wood
My Giving Pledge
Dear Mr. Buffett, Mr. and Mrs. Gates
It was my great honor to receive your invitation to join the Giving Pledge. I would be delighted to join it, to fulfill my social responsibility, to achieve the full value of my life. In 2004, I made my first donation to a school in Guizhou, and that's when my philanthropy got started. Wealth comes from society, and should be returned back to society. Charity is not only a social responsibility that entrepreneurs must fulfill, but also a good way for the entrepreneurs to give back to society. With regard to the balance between business and charity, I have always respected the principle of Acting Positive and Staying Kind.
Acting Positive makes people gain wisdom and wealth. In their pursuit of career development, the entrepreneur becomes bigger and stronger. Staying Kind, means to treasure life, respect nature, always have goodwill and be ready to help others in need. This makes people mentally healthy and blessed.
Those who engage in charity bear a kind heart. Those who are kind reveal true beauty. To do a good thing once is not difficult. What is hard is to persevere in fulfilling the pledge of philanthropy. During the past ten years, I built my business and life, and devoted myself to philanthropy in the area of education, science and technology, culture, environmental protection and poverty alleviation. After my first donation to schools in Guizhou, China, I donated money to Fanjing Mountain Nature Reserve to help them set up the Fanjing Mountain Ecological Botanical Garden and build a public platform to protect the area's natural ecology and rare animals. At the same time, I never stopped helping people in need in Guizhou. I established scholarships to help poor students go to college for a better education, and I have donated to build a boarding school.
At this point, I have been in the education industry for more than two decades. Education itself is people oriented. The development of our country, even the whole world, relies on people's talents. Therefore, I have proposed the concept of Great Philanthropy. That is, I believe that philanthropy is not just about donating money and goods, but also about sharing wisdom. We Chinese say, it is better to teach people how to fish than to give them a fish. That's why I'm so glad to see the achievements that been made after the donation of my educational evaluation program.
I am grateful to be part of the Giving Pledge, and I look forward to joining you in devoting my humble contributions to the progress of human life and the development of society.
My Giving Pledge
May 7, 2013
I am delighted and honored to join you in the Giving Pledge, and commit to placing 95% of my wealth into a trust for charitable causes during my lifetime.
I have been in active support of higher education and scientific research through awarding scholarships, founding colleges and establishing research prizes. Through my philanthropic vehicles, I shall continue to seek to inspire individuals to work for the betterment of our society and to collaborate with organizations to meet social and environmental challenges.
I believe that there will be more people in Taiwan to join the Giving Pledge and together we shall make the world a better place for all species.
Dear Bill & Melinda:
President Thomas Jefferson reminds us: "There is a debt of service due from every man to his country proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him."
I have been fortunate to benefit from the opportunities endowed by this nation, its land, and our world. I am determined to fill my duty to others so we may always expand the reach of human possibility and compassion.
"We will spend our lives working to make sure future generations have the greatest opportunities possible."
November 9, 2015
We've had so much opportunity in our lives, and we feel a deep responsibility to make the world a better place for future generations. We've benefited from good health, great education and support from committed families and communities. We believe that in the next generation, all of our children should grow up living even better lives and striving for even more than we think is possible today.
Advancing human potential and promoting equality drives our work. We have already made long term commitments to improving education, science and health -- focused everywhere from our local community in the Bay Area to around the world.
As we expand our giving, we will continue supporting the strongest leaders with the most promising ideas for advancing progress and equality around the most important challenges for the next generation -- from public education to health care, from life sciences research to energy and internet connectivity.
We'll make long term bets that others won't make and that will take a decade or longer to achieve their goals. We'll learn from each project and apply those lessons to future work. That's why we're starting and making this commitment now while we're still early in our careers -- so we can gain experience early and become more effective in our giving over time.
We salute the Giving Pledge movement, and are proud to be part of its declaration that those who have been fortunate should give back at least half of their wealth during their lifetimes. The needs of our world are great. We believe passionately that people should not wait to give back. Our giving is just starting and we commit to being active learners, listeners and participants for years to come. We'll devote our resources as well as our personal time and energy. We will spend our lives working to make sure future generations have the greatest opportunities possible.
Priscilla Chan Mark Zuckerberg
Giving back was instilled in me by my father at a young age. In addition to being active with Rotary and other civic organizations, my dad was also philanthropic with his own small resources. Not only did he make contributions to causes that he cared about, he also supported the tuition of two African-American students at his alma mater, Milsaps College in the late 1950s. It made a big impression on me to see someone as hard-charging as my father take the time to quietly help out two young people like this. Sometime during the 1970s, before I made a significant amount of money, I attended a seminar on philanthropy. At dinner I was seated next to a man who was quite a bit older than I and we began discussing charitable foundations. He told me about his family's foundation and the good things they were doing around the world. I filed this away in my mind and told myself that if I were ever wealthy enough to have a foundation, I'd be sure to make it a family foundation so that my children would be involved and understand the importance of giving back.
Fast forward twenty years to September 1997. I was being honored as the 1997 Man of the Year by the United Nations Association and I was contemplating what I'd say that evening. Good thoughts about my family's foundation, the Turner Foundation, starting flooding my mind, and I smiled at the fact that we had already invested several hundred million dollars in grants and had made a significant impact on so many people and organizations around the world. I wish I could remember who that man was who first gave me the idea for a family foundation, because I owe him a debt of gratitude. The Turner Foundation helped me understand the impact we all can have through philanthropic contributions. My experiences with organizations like the Better World Society opened my eyes to the power of assembling a team of international leaders to address global issues. Had I not experienced working with these two organizations, I don't think I would have had the confidence to move forward with what I was about to propose to the United Nations that evening. That was the night my $1 billion pledge was heard around the world and the United Nations Foundation was born. I also made it clear that while the amount I was giving away was certainly a lot of money, I was also putting other rich people on notice that I would be calling on them to be more generous. Now that I was pledging such a large amount, I could lead by example, and it was time for me to get out in front of the parade.
Over the years, the United Nations Foundation has done innovative work to make the world a better place and has helped strengthen the U.N. in the process. This gives me a lot of satisfaction, as have my efforts to influence other wealthy people to become more active in philanthropy. After the billion dollar pledge, I challenged my fellow billionaires to do more. I realized that many of them used their net worth as a way to keep score and they enjoyed seeing where they ranked on lists put out by magazines like Fortune and Forbes. Understanding how competitive most of these people were, I called on the media to start publishing lists of people who gave away the most. I figured that this would not only motivate people to try to get to the top of the philanthropy list, it could also shame some whose names didn't show up. Slate.com was the first to take up the list idea and other media outlets joined in later.
To date, I've visited more than 60 countries in every part of the world. In addition to making a lot of friends, I've also seen firsthand the desperate challenges facing so many people. It's been eye-opening for me and I've discovered that the more people you meet, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more you want to help, and the more you help, the better you feel. These days, I'm putting my resources and energies toward tackling the world's more important issues. The three problems that concern me the most are the threat of nuclear annihilation, climate change and the continuing growth of the world's population. Sometimes these problems can seem overwhelming, and when they do, I remind myself of a conversation I had many years ago with Jacques Cousteau. I asked him if he ever got discouraged or worried that the problems he was working on were insurmountable. He looked at me and said, "Ted, it could be that these problems can't be solved, but what can men of good conscience do but keep trying until the very end?" At that moment, his very words inspired me to want to do even more.
I don't measure success in numbers, but I consider my contributions of more than 1.3 billion dollars to various causes over the years to be one of my proudest accomplishments and the best investment I've ever made. Those dollars have improved lives, saved species, fought disease, educated children, inspired change, challenged ideas and opened minds; and at the time of my death, virtually all of my wealth will have gone to charity.
Looking back, if I had to live my life over, there are things I would do differently, but the one thing I would not change is my charitable giving. I'm particularly thankful for my father's advice to set goals so high that they can't possibly be achieved during a lifetime and to give help where help is needed most. That inspiration keeps me energized and eager to keep working hard every day on giving back and making the world a better place for generations to come.
Statement from Ted Forstmann
For many years I’ve been quietly doing my own version of “the giving pledge” trying to help disadvantaged children around the world. I’ve always believed that you don’t really talk about giving; you just do it.
However, Mayor Bloomberg convinced me that by lending my name to “The Giving Pledge” it would help encourage others to participate and would result in helping many needy causes.
I’ve tried to live by the motto “you save one life and you save the world.” I hope that by joining “The Giving Pledge” it will encourage others to do the same.
“From day one, my parents have been instrumental in instilling the ethos of philanthropy particularly my responsibility as a Muslim to give and care for the less fortunate in our society. Our role as citizens of this world is to truly support the betterment of our society so that our future generations and their offspring grow up to live even better lives and strive for even more than they think is possible for them today."
15th July 2016
Having witnessed severe poverty throughout my up-bringing, I have always felt a deep responsibility to give back to my community. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with endless opportunities: great health, a stellar education but also from a strong family unit and religious community that were always supportive and encouraging of my growth and development.
From day one, my parents have been instrumental in instilling the ethos of philanthropy particularly my responsibility as a Muslim to give and care for the less fortunate in our society. Our role as citizens of this world is to truly to support the betterment of our society so that our future generations and their offspring grow up to live even better lives and strive for even more than they think is possible for them today.
One of the first avenues I chose to tackle this was through my core business at MeTL Group embedding the concept of impact investing. When devising our expansion plans, I continuously stressed the importance of a business strategy that sees the economically disadvantaged not as charity cases but as willing and able consumers for products that match their needs. A variety of my new consumer products were designed for the sole purpose of being affordable to lower-income people in East Africa whom traditionally would been priced out of such access. This type of impact investment has the potential to drive large-scale social change by not only improving the saving potential of the poor as a result of product affordability and convenience but also improve their contentment with life and confidence resulting from their newly found purchasing power. While foreign aid across the continent has been instrumental in various aspects of human-development, ultimately, only homegrown development can act as a catalyst for sustainable social and economic grown and through MeTL products, we have taken incremental steps towards this through local-led impact investments.
It wasn’t until the year 2000 did I realize I needed to go beyond my core business to support the livelihoods of Tanzania. It was then that I decided to join politics and represent my home constituency of Singida region as a Member of Parliament (MP). Upon being elected in 2005, one of the biggest realizations was the socio-economic profile of my constituents in Singida. Not only was I representing one of the poorest regions in Tanzania but their day to day realities became embedded in all aspects of my personal and professional life.
Shortly after being elected, in 2005, I established Singida Yetu, a charitable entity with aim of improving the lives of Tanzanians living in the region by helping create sustainable socio-economic development. The purpose of setting up this entity was to go beyond my duty as an MP and use my own personal funds to give back to the region that birthed-me. In the first few years alone, I supported a wide range of activities, including: constructing of schools, drilling wells, distributing mosquito nets, supplying maize flour during the 2005-2006 drought, scholarships for secondary school students, healthcare for the critically ill, constructing an eye-unit at the regional hospital, installing street lighting, food support for those with HIV/AIDS, rehabilitating mosques and churches, purchasing sports equipment and equipping farmers. Despite the wide array of interventions which yielded many successful results, I still felt my efforts were not enough to truly tackle the poverty that plagued the region and Tanzania as whole.
Knowing that I had made the decision to retire from politics in 2015, I began thinking of ways in which I could give back more holistically to the country. It was then that I decided to set up the Mo Dewji Foundation in 2014, with aim of creating lasting solutions in order to enhance the quality of life and well-being of under-privileged Tanzanian citizens. In selecting the thematic focus of my philanthropy, I was particularly influenced by the basic needs of my constituency in Singida, many of whom lacked access to education and quality healthcare and the skills required to become financially literate and self-sustaining citizens. The funded activities to date have included patient assistance programs, health facility grants, school refurbishment programs, educational scholarships, agribusiness community projects and most recently an entrepreneurship program aimed providing financial literacy capacity building coupled with an interest-free loan to established young SME’s in Tanzania. All the current and future projects supported by the Mo Dewji Foundation will be aligned to my philanthropic vision of facilitating the development of a poverty-free Tanzania. A future where the possibilities, opportunities and dreams of Tanzanian’s are limitless.
If there’s only one thing we’re certain about this life, it is that it ends. All these material comforts that surround us are temporary accessories and this is why, I decided a long time ago that I do not need any more personal wealth. As a result, I plan to donate well above half my net worth to various organizations and individuals for philanthropic purposes similar to how I have been doing thus far. I expect to continue this support to the betterment of country during my lifetime and in the hereafter simply in recognition that they (‘the less fortunate’) need it more than I do. And well after my death, I would like to ensure the legacy of giving and supporting our brothers and sisters in-need remains at the forefront of our development agenda and hope that my children and grandchildren inherit this ethos and lead by example in years to come.
By signing this pledge, I hope to inspire my peers, fellow Africans and citizens of the world to take a close look at the funds they truly need to maintain their families versus their ability to give. In retrospect, many of us have well-above what we need while constantly accruing a list of what we want in this life. We all have a moral obligation as the more affluent in society to give back as best we know how. I’ll leave you with a few words I share with many of my comrades: “When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of GIVING.”
My pledge to Warren Buffett and Bill Gates:
Being a first generation American has many rewards. Among them is having the opportunity to succeed in this free country, and then succeeding enough to have the privilege of knowing that "success unshared is failure."
My mother raised my brother and I in a European immigrant community in downtown Los Angeles. From the time I was two years old, it was just the three of us. We didn't have very much, not even a TV; however, we always felt we had enough.
One Christmas, when I was six years old, my mother took us to see the holiday displays in the big department stores downtown. It was a big treat for us. We saw puppets that moved and trains that whistled… It was really special and added to the Christmas spirit.
That same year, my mother gave my brother and I a dime. She told the both of us to hold it together and place it inside the bucket near a man who was ringing a bell. We did, and then we asked my mother why we gave him the dime (at the time, a dime could buy you three candy bars or two soda pops). My mother's reply was, "This is the Salvation Army that helps people who really are in need. Remember boys, no matter how much you have; there is always someone who is more in need than you. Always try to give, even if it is just a little." Needless to say, that stuck with me in my adult life.
Now my family and I have the privilege to help people and make the world a better place to live. This opportunity will not be passed up. Living is giving. I will not deprive my family of knowing how good it feels to help those in need with some of the basics we already have…food, shelter, care and a promising future.
Whether it is feeding thousands of orphans in third world countries, saving whales, helping the homeless find employment, protecting our waterways, rescuing young girls from prostitution, teaching and supplying families in Appalachia with equipment to grow their own vegetables, or any other act of giving…giving back is a practice and joy I want my family to continue.
I plan to help the world now and in the future—through my trust and my family—with half (if not more) of what I have been blessed with today.
Peace, love & happiness,
John Paul DeJoria
Co-Founder, Paul Mitchell Hair Care
Co-Founder, Patron Tequila & Spirits Company
Co-Founder, John Paul Pet
Co-Founder, ROK Mobile
“We are proud to join Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and the others who have committed to the Giving Pledge. My wife, Mary, and I feel very fortunate and blessed that we find ourselves, at a relatively young age, to be able to give our time, treasure and talent to a variety of philanthropic organizations in a substantial manner.”
OUR GIVING PLEDGE LETTER
We are proud to join Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and the others who have committed to the Giving Pledge. My wife, Mary, and I feel very fortunate and blessed that we find ourselves, at a relatively young age, to be able to give our time, treasure and talent to a variety of philanthropic organizations in a substantial manner.
Both of us grew up in middle class homes (Mary in Portland, OR and Mark in Los Angeles, CA) where commitment, hard work, strong values and common sense framed the foundation of our early years. Our parents participated in a variety of charitable giving efforts despite their rather modest means. My mother, Carmela Stevens, had a great saying, "You can't take it with you…"
We believe that success in any endeavor in life is a product of intelligence, determination and a bit of luck. Mary and I were both lucky to have started our careers in Silicon Valley in the 1980's and participated in the fabulous growth of the technology industry during the 1990's. I was fortunate enough to join Sequoia Capital in 1989 upon my graduation from graduate business school. It was very stimulating to finance entrepreneurs who wanted to change the world. Equally as rewarding was to see how Sequoia's limited partners (largely foundations and endowments) applied their investment gains from us into meaningful initiatives to support education, help improve health care around the world, protect the environment, etc.
As the new century approached, Mary and I realized that we had more than enough wealth that we would ever need and began to think about what to do about it. There were four options: 1) give it to your kids (we have three), 2) let the government take it from you and redistribute it, 3) spend with reckless abandon or 4) donate virtually all of it to causes and organizations that we feel could make a difference in the world. The first option would inhibit our children's dreams and motivations; the second option is very inefficient; the third option is not part of our DNA. We are thrilled to devote a significant portion of our future time and energy to option four.
I suppose we are in the "early innings" of our philanthropy. Our focus in the past ten years or so has been supporting our college and high school alma maters and our children's schools. More recently, we have extended our support to other areas including health care research (cancer and neurologic diseases), local health care delivery, the environment and community organizations. Over time, our philanthropic aperture will likely widen and, simultaneously, will deepen in a few areas that we feel especially passionate about. We hope that as our children reach adulthood that they will join us in our family's philanthropic mission.
We look forward to joining all of the other Giving Pledge families to foster a world that is a much better place in the coming decades.
"Potential is no guarantee of progress. We will only grasp the staggering potential of our time if we create onramps that empower ALL people to participate, regardless of background, country of origin, religious practice, gender, or color of skin."
The beginning of my career coincided with the dawn of the digital age, when computer software was revolutionizing virtually every industry and changing our lives in countless ways. The advances of the past quarter-century have been astonishing—but the revolution is just beginning.
We are now entering the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” an age in human history where everything about our lives will be transformed by technology. It may be difficult to fathom at this moment, but the technologies we live with today are merely a prelude to the advances in artificial intelligence that are still to come.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution holds the promise of enormous progress for our society. For the first time in history, the opportunity to create wealth for one's family and community does not hinge on access to capital or the ownership of land, natural resources, or people.
Today, wealth can be created through the power of utilizing one's creative and diligent mind and leveraging vast amounts of computing power to turn great ideas into products and services that make our lives better. Intellectual capital can be cultivated, monetized and instantaneously distributed across the globe and the benefits can then be returned to one's community.
In fact, intellectual capital has become the new currency of business and finance—and the promise of utilizing brainpower to move individuals, families and even entire communities from poverty to prosperity within one generation has never been more possible than at this moment in time. But potential is no guarantee of progress. We will only grasp the staggering potential of our time if we create onramps that empower ALL people to participate, regardless of background, country of origin, religious practice, gender, or color of skin.
I will never forget that my path was paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans whose names I will never know. Their struggles, their courage, and their progress allowed me to strive and achieve. My story would only be possible in America, and it is incumbent on all of us to pay this inheritance forward.
For these reasons, on behalf of my family, I am privileged to join the Giving Pledge with a commitment to invest half my net worth—during my lifetime—to causes that support equality of opportunity for African Americans, as well as causes that cultivate ecological protection to ensure a livable planet for future generations.
Additionally, my wife, Hope, will focus her efforts on the famous words of Aeschylus: to “Tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world” by supporting causes that support the safety, development, success, and promise of children and young people.
I hope our investments will catalyze others to join the cause. The future of our planet and our people is not one for the wealthy to wage alone.
All of us must contribute our hearts and souls to the effort.
We're all in this together.
"It is a crime when you are able to help others and choose not to..."
The Giving Pledge: The Giving Pledge is a global effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by encouraging the wealthiest individuals and families to give the bulk of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Dr. B. R. Shetty and his wife Dr. Chandrakumari Raghuram Shetty recently joined the pledge.
They say there is no such thing as a coincidence and that everything happens for a reason. I am a firm believer in this.
We choose the instances in our lives as well as the people we interact with. We also choose to either take responsibility for others or not. In my lifetime I have come to realize that it is our moral responsibility to do what we can to better the lives of those we know and those we don’t know. After all, we all share this lovely planet.
I write this letter today, the giving pledge, in hopes that my story can inspire one from any walk of life to rise up and take action; to extend a helping hand...to nurture our planet and our people, and essentially all life on earth.
My journey began 40 plus years ago, when I had to leave my motherland, in order to find a job to repay a loan I had taken to arrange my sister’s wedding. From the green country side of South India, I had landed in Abu Dhabi in 1973, with a mere $8 in my pocket and a small brief case to look for brighter beginnings.
At the time, Abu Dhabi was a desert with a few one-storey buildings. I found shelter in a cabin and went about looking for employment. I had become the first outdoor salesman in a very hot country. I have never looked back since then.
Even through our humble beginnings, my mother always taught us not to forget our community and to always help at least 10 people around us. I have also learned from the benevolence of the Rulers of the UAE, the importance of giving back in Health, Education and infrastructure for all. Now that we have been fortunate, it is our responsibility to multiply that 10 to as many people as possible, starting from our communities and moving to the rest of the world.
This is why my wife and I are particularly interested in the giving pledge community because together we can do much more. Bill, Melinda and Warren, you have personally inspired us and are on the right track of bridging the gap of wealth distribution. If really today 10% of the world's population can resolve 90% of the world's problems then we all better get moving.
We are very proud to be part of the giving pledge and must thank you for giving our family the opportunity to be a part of this community.
It is a crime when you are able to help others and choose not to…
December 24, 2016
Susan and I often find ourselves wondering, "Why were we born with so many advantages in life when others are born with none?" It is, of course, an accident of birth. Susan and I were born in families of modest means, but we always had enough, we had natural gifts, and we had opportunities. As those advantages have turned into financial success, we've increasingly felt a responsibility to help those less fortunate.
While we work together in philanthropy, Susan and I approach helping in very different ways - although in both cases the help is heart felt. Susan prefers touching the lives of those she has met, which may be as simple as remembering their birthday, taking the time to say hello or comforting them in time of pain, or helping them financially in a time of need. These are often people she's met – perhaps briefly – that are underappreciated, looked down upon, or perhaps not seen at all. She finds a personal connection in helping people one at a time.
My passion has been helping people in need in developing countries develop the ability to help themselves. These are people who need help through no fault of their own. I spent my senior year of high school in South America – in Bogota, Colombia – where I saw intense poverty. Every day I rode the bus to school with my nose pressed against the glass, staring at the kids out on the street, who would stop and stare back at me. Many of them didn't have a stitch of clothes and merely a stick for a toy. Thus one of our philanthropic efforts has been to build schools for poor communities in Bogota and help people who fled into Bogota to escape the surrounding bloodshed brought on by war and drug cartels. It has never felt like enough. I've always wanted to do more, to have a bigger impact.
About ten years ago I found myself in South Africa where a physician agreed to let me sit with her as she examined three patients at an HIV clinic. All three were dying – the third one in front of me with congestive heart failure. She was discharged to the street.
It was obvious that HIV had so totally overwhelmed the lives of these people that it was difficult to accomplish anything there without first eliminating this disease and its close cousin - tuberculosis. I initially thought there was so much money in research that any money I provided would be a waste, but then I began to understand how science is funded and conducted. It became obvious to me that there is a better way to approach this and similar problems, and that there is an enormously powerful role that philanthropy can play.
To change the world, you need to find the right fulcrum and the right place to put it. In our case, we decided the fulcrum was research and the right place for us to put it was in Cambridge, MA, where there is an enormous density of extremely talented and dedicated people. We created a joint research institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard – the Ragon Institute. Its vision is to harness the immune system to prevent and cure disease, and our first objective is to create a vaccine (and hopefully a cure as well) for HIV – an objective on which we have made enormous progress.
There are, of course, many ways of having an impact – these are just some in which we have been attempting to do so.
We have been privileged to create considerable wealth, and we face decisions about how best to use it. Naturally, we wish to help our children and make sure they have what they need – and fortunately we are able to easily do so - but providing much more than that will not increase their happiness.
Ultimately, our real goal is to leave the world at least a little better than we found it – or at least better than it would otherwise have been. Thus, after providing for our children, we wish the rest of our wealth, which is clearly the majority, to be spent trying to touch the lives of others and make the world a better place, and we do so pledge.
Phillip T. (Terry) and Susan M. Ragon
Our Philanthropic Pledge
Nancy and I are inspired by the leadership of the Giving Pledge. Fourteen years ago, when we set up our personal foundation and committed to give 95% of our wealth to charitable causes either during our lifetimes or at our deaths, we never dreamed that there would be such a gathering of like-minded individuals who firmly believe in the favorable impact of giving on the world.
Our home community is Houston. As longtime residents of this city, we have witnessed its extraordinary culture of entrepreneurship, which has enabled Houstonians of all backgrounds to improve their lives, use their talents and creativity, and pursue their dreams. In Houston, you are what you achieve.
This stirs and motivates us to continue giving. The Kinder Foundation’s mission is to enable our community to flourish by providing transformational gifts to projects dedicated primarily to three key areas: urban green space, education and quality of life issues.
Nancy and I grew up in small towns and firmly believe in the opportunity for entrepreneurship in America and especially in Houston and we believe in giving back to society the bulk of the good fortune we have received. Our goal in joining the Giving Pledge is to encourage those in similar positions to do the same.
Rich Kinder Nancy Kinder