The Pledge is a moral commitment to give; it is not a legal contract. By making the "Giving Pledge", one commits to address society’s most pressing problems.
Financially, it means to give more than half of your wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during your lifetime or in your will.
The idea of the Giving Pledge came from conversations that Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett had with other philanthropists in the U.S. and abroad. The campaign specifically focuses on billionaires and was made public in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
Initially, the focus was on the wealthiest families and individuals in the United States. Since there have been enthusiastic responses to the Giving Pledge around the world, the pledge now includes people from a mix of countries around the world.
Melinda Gates: We're asking them to be bold. We're asking them to step out and to do something big. But a lot of them were already on their way there and just hadn't put a numeric number behind it. And I think now also the Giving Pledge has gotten going, people know that's the expectation.
Around the World
Among the 127 Giving Pledge participants, 19 reside outside the United States. The highest concentration of pledgers outside the U.S. is in the United Kingdom, where the seven Giving Pledge households have a combined net worth of more than $11 billion.
Of the 108 Giving Pledge households in the United States, 31 are in California, representing a cummulative net worth of more than $129 billion.
Of the more than $535 billion in net worth of all pledgers in the United States, just under 73 percent of those assets are held by 55 households living in only four states (California, New York, Washington, and Nebraska).
Billionaires are a Culture unto themselves
As much as they may be African, Asian, European, or Latin American, the wealthiest billionaires are also part of a growing, global culture of the ultra-rich. They are densely networked through business and investment ties. In deciding to join something like the Giving Pledge they are more likely to look to the example of their fellow billionaires, wherever on the globe they may be from, than to pay credence to the skeptics in their own backyard.
The Bigger Picture
Warren Buffett: Incremental wealth, adding to the wealth they have now has no real utility to them. But that wealth has incredible utility to other people. It can educate children, it can vaccinate children. It can do all kinds of things.
Imagine what it could do,