Giving to charity

I was planning on writing a post about charity today anyway, but as I was briefly looking up some specifics I found that this topic was in the news this week. A group of 40 billionaires, led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have agreed to donate at least 50% of their wealth to various charities and causes. The total sum of money to be dished out is around $160 billion USD. To put that in perspective, 22 of the rich countries in the world including the U.S. and Canada gave $104 billion in foreign aid in 2006, combined (according to the Financial Post).

To be fair, that total that countries give is actually a lot more if you include money given to domestic causes and issues, more than likely surpassing the total from these billionaires, but it does show how significant this news is. Since all these people are leaders that make their own decisions (they wouldn’t be this rich if they weren’t that way) no one would be able to convince them to put half their fortunes into a pool that will not be decided on by them. So instead, this group will not have any oversight, rules or directions except that the donations must equal at least 50% of their net worth.

The organization behind this great idea is called Giving Pledge. Gates and Buffet personally called the other billionaires that comprise the full list to get the commitments. Currently, they are focused on the United States but they plan to go to China soon and likely other countries as well. They aren’t sure if all countries will go under the Giving Pledge name and group or if every country will start their own chapter or group. The Giving Pledge website states that no legal contract is in place and it is only a moral commitment behind the pledges.

Not all this money will be spent right away either. A lot of it will be spent over many years. All of that depends strictly on how the donors wish to spend it. The causes to be focused on will also be solely up to the various donors. They can choose to spend it within the U.S., internationally or spread it out on a whole range of issues. It also doesn’t have to go to issues you would normally think of as “important”. Issues like art and likely other issues like that will be addressed as well.

This is a great idea and shows that business people and entrepreneurs are not necessarily greedy and do care about other people. Obviously, all these people will still be rich after they give the money they pledged to give. That should be the case because they worked hard to achieve their success. Hopefully this encourages more people to think about others in need and also ends up being effective in improving peoples lives and making the world a better place, which is the whole point of all this.