SEATTLE — Aug. 4, 2010 — Forty of the wealthiest families and individuals in the United States have committed to returning the majority of their wealth to charitable causes by taking the Giving Pledge. The announcement of this first group was made by Warren Buffett approximately six weeks after kicking off the long-term charitable project with Bill and Melinda Gates.
"We've really just started, but already we've had a terrific response," said Warren Buffett, pledge co-founder and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. "At its core, the Giving Pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used. We're delighted that so many people are doing just that – and that so many have decided to not only take this pledge but also to commit to sums far greater than the 50% minimum level."
Wealthy supporters from throughout the country have come forward to join the pledge, including the following 40 families and individuals. A full list of those taking the pledge and personal pledge letters by many of these supporters outlining their commitment to give is available online at www.givingpledge.org.
Buffett will be joined in commenting on the announcement by three other individuals who have likewise taken the pledge: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with husband and wife Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor. A media call and Q&A will take place at 12:15 p.m., EDT on Wednesday, August 4, 2010. Dial-in information for the call is (866) 901-4714 (toll-free) or (702) 599-4277 (int'l.), with conference ID # 92438683. The call is open to all accredited media and will focus uniquely on philanthropy and the Giving Pledge initiative.
The Giving Pledge is an effort to help address society's most pressing problems by inviting the wealthiest American families and individuals to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes. The pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract, and it does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations. While it is specifically focused on billionaires, the idea takes its inspiration from other efforts that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds.Pledge Signatories:
||Oklahoma||George B. Kaiser|
|Hawaii||Pierre and Pam Omidyar||Pennsylvania||Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest|
|Washington, D.C. / Maryland||
|Michigan||Thomas S. Monaghan||Utah||Jon and Karen Huntsman|
|Missouri||Jim and Virginia Stowers||Washington||
Laura and John Arnold
"We view our wealth in this light – not as an end in itself, but as an instrument to effect positive and transformative change."
Michael R. Bloomberg
"If you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing – by far – is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children. And by giving, we inspire others to give of themselves, whether their money or their time."
Eli and Edythe Broad
"Those who have been blessed with extraordinary wealth have an opportunity, some would say a responsibility – we consider it a privilege – to give back to their communities, be they local, national or global."
"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."
Bill and Melinda Gates
"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."
"It is my hope that others are inspired by my father's story, and by our family's steadfast adherence to his charitable philosophy."
Jon and Karen Huntsman
"It has been clear to me since my earliest childhood memories that my reason for being was to help others."
George B. Kaiser
"I had the advantage of both genetics (winning the "ovarian lottery") and upbringing. As I looked around at those who did not have these advantages, it became clear to me that I had a moral obligation to direct my resources to help right that balance."
Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest
"The ultimate achievement in life is how you feel about yourself. And giving your wealth away to have an impact for good does help with that feeling."
Lorry I. Lokey
"There's an old saying about farmers putting back in to the ground via fertilizer what they take out. So it is with money. The larger the estate, the more important it is to revitalize the soil."
"My pledge is to the process; as long as I have the resources at my disposal, I will seek to raise the bar for future generations of students of all ages. I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education."
Tashia and John Morgridge
"The more personally involved we have become with the causes we support the more effective we seem to be."
Peter G. Peterson
"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."
"Our family continues to be united in the belief that those who have benefitted the most from our nation's economic system have a special responsibility to give back to our society in meaningful ways."
"The world is a vast and complicated place and it needs each of us doing all we can to ensure a brighter tomorrow for future generations."
Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor
"Surely the pleasure we derive from St. Francis' active verbs of consoling, understanding, loving, giving and pardoning far outweigh any selfish and passive pleasures of owning, having, or possessing."
"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."
Sanford and Joan Weill
"Our Pledge is this: We will continue to give away all of the wealth we have been so fortunate to make except for a very small percentage allocated to our children and grandchildren between now and the time we pass because we are firm believers that shrouds don't have pockets."