The Charter :
The Giving Pledge [www.GivingPledge.com] is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in
to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death. America
Each person who chooses to pledge will make this statement publicly, along with a letter explaining their decision to pledge. At an annual event, those who take the pledge will come together to share ideas and learn from each other.
The Pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract. It does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations.
While the Giving Pledge is specifically focused on billionaires, the idea takes its inspiration from efforts in the past and at present that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds. It is inspired by the example set by millions of Americans who give generously (and often at great personal sacrifice) to make the world a better place.
Presume for a while that you are a billionaire and that you have been roped in by Gates, Buffet & Co to sign a pledge to give away most of your fortune either during your lifetime or ( latest) on your death).
The catch here is that you have to make also a public statement on this occasion.
What would you write? Emotionally or matter-of-factly? Will you be brief or abounding on words, loquacious and garrulous ( or in simple English – verbose) ?
Pained already? First the pain of giving and then the pain of writing it out?
Relax! Although no relief for the pain of first type, but certainly for the second one.
Some help here to copy from the messages some of your billionaire colleagues have penned this month!
You can see them in full at the website but here are two of the gems, real gems, from three people who rolled this idea to a great start.
Worth saluting them for giving their fortunes away:
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 .. 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…. 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
, 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 America 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. U.S.
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.
BILL AND MELINDA GATES
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
, 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. United States
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.
…… 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……
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