Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have been joined by several dozens of billionaires in their pledge to give away at least half their wealth to philanthropy: 40 US billionaires pledge to give away half their wealth. On Wednesday, the Giving Pledge. Along with a commitment, the all philanthropists posted their own letter explaining why they were taking the pledge. Analyzing their remarks offers a rare glimpse into their minds : how they view their fortunes and where they think their money should go after they die.
Even Larry Ellison, more often in the headlines for spending money than giving it away, was responding to this call: “Until now, I have done this giving quietly — because I have long believed that charitable giving is a personal and private matter”. Over the years, Ellison has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to education and medical research. “So why am I going public now? Warren Buffett personally asked me to write this letter because he said I would be ‘setting an example’ and ‘influencing others’ to give,” Ellison wrote. “I hope he’s right.”
Warren Buffett says he and the Bill Gates have pitched the idea to about 70 to 80 people on the Forbes 400 list so far. While Buffett is pleased that half of those contacted so far have risen to the occasion, he also says there are many more people to recruit, and he plans to urge others to join the giving campaign through dinners similar to the first hosted in May 2009. “We’re off to a terrific start,” he says.
Other Bay Area billionaires participating in Buffett and Gates’ campaign to encourage the wealthy to support philanthropy include movie maker George Lucas, financier Tom Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor, venture capitalist John Doerr and his wife Ann, Business Wire founder Lorry Lokey, San Jose-based eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, as well as Herb and Marion Sandler.
Some billionaires approached by the country’s two richest men have already rejected the idea, some for political reasons, because they believed in keeping the money in the family, or just because they were too busy. Some reasons may also include accountability, transparency and especially effectiveness. Billionaires may want to bring into philanthropy a result-oriented attitude, which is positive; AmAre formula can be used both by beneficiaries and philanthropists. When it comes to effectiveness, inspired by Maslow’s pyramid, we see that in some contexts, philanthropy is about improving the way physiological needs are served, in others the way the need for personal actualization is facilitated. When it comes to efficiency, philanthropists can rank the priorities by perceived importance for the beneficiaries, and then dedicate their efforts to the ones which are both important and meet the investors current strengths, not only in terms of financing, but also in terms of transferable skills.
A model to quantify this can be seen on: http://spsh.amareway.org/
When the technological infrastructure allows it, or when agents can survey part of the population, beneficiaries can rank how important a variable is, and what is their current level of satisfaction with it. The variables with highest importance and lowest satisfaction level are the ones which need attention first. Philanthropists can then add their own rank, in terms of the perceived strengths they have to satisfy each variable, for example assigning 100 points among them, and starting from the ones with higher importance, lower satisfaction level and higher strength factor. This is philanthropy, the AmAre Way.
More information and individual pledges available on: http://www.givingpledge.org/