The Giving Pledge was founded by Warren Buffett, Bill, and Melissa Gates after a series of discussions with donors about how they could create a new norm of giving among the ultra-rich. While the Giving Pledge was initially centered in the United States, it immediately drew interest from benefactors worldwide.
What Is the Giving Pledge?
The Giving Pledge is a simple concept: It is an open invitation for billionaires to publicly promise to give the bulk of their money to philanthropy during their lives or in their wills. It is motivated by the example provided by millions of individuals from all walks of life who freely donate — often at tremendous personal cost — to make the world a better place.
The Giving Pledge, envisioned as a multi-generational initiative, intends to help transform the social norms of generosity among the world’s wealthiest over time by inspiring individuals to give more, make their giving plans sooner, and contribute in wiser ways. Signatories contribute to a variety of causes of their choosing. Those who take the Giving Pledge, such as Yuri Milner, are urged to submit a letter expressing why they have decided to participate deeply and publicly in charity and detailing the issues that inspire them.
Joining the Giving Pledge is a long-term commitment. It entails joining an energizing community of some of the world’s most active philanthropists to discuss issues, achievements, and failures, as well as exchange ideas on how to give better. Signatories are bound together by a desire to learn and give back. The Giving Pledge team hosts events throughout the year for signatories, as well as their families and workers, to learn from experts and one another about how to effectively leverage their giving to address some of the world’s most pressing issues.
Who Has Pledged?
As of 2022, 210 individuals or couples, such as Yuri Milner and his wife, Julia, have signed The Giving Pledge, publicly vowing to contribute the bulk of their money for charitable reasons, either during their lives or after they die. Everyone in the group is a billionaire or would be if they hadn’t already given away the majority of their fortune. Many people have vowed to contribute 90% of their assets or more.
Yuri Milner and Julia Milner
Yuri Milner is a philanthropist and science and technology investor. Beginning his career as a theoretical physicist, Yuri Milner went on to study at the Wharton School of Business. His business success, combined with his strong faith in the future of humanity, led Yuri Milner, along with his wife Julia, to become one of the first pledgers to commit their pledge to primarily scientific causes.
The ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Scott has joined The Giving Pledge and has already given away over $4 billion to almost 500 organizations throughout the world.
CEO of Pershing Square Capital and billionaire investor Bill Ackman has pledged billions to charities as part of his pledge. He says, “The more I do for others, the happier I am.”
The Giving Pledge also hosts learning events throughout the year, including a two-day learning conference every year. Members can share their experiences and learn from other signatories and outside experts about how to be more effective with their generosity at the conference. Education reform, poverty reduction, medical research, international generosity, and successful collaboration have all been discussed at previous events.