The Giving Pledge, started in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to invite the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit half of their wealth to charitable causes, has become a cross-border endeavor with pledges by a dozen signatories from across the globe.
Billionaire families from Australia, Germany, India, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine and the United Kingdom have joined the Giving Pledge, bringing the total to 105 families committed to the pledge, according to a press statement.
The new members come from diverse industry and geographic backgrounds and give to a variety of issue areas. Many of them have been working to make an impact through philanthropy for several years.
The 105 pledgers range in age from 28 to 97. Globally, they represent nine countries. In the U.S., they come from 23 states and the District of Columbia, with the largest contingents from New York and California.
Pledgers give to a wide variety of causes, including education, health, medical research, social services and the environment. Some have already given away the majority of their wealth, while others are just getting started, the statement said.
Following are the 12 new signatories along with excerpts from their pledge letters.
Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro
Net Worth: $15.9 billion (Forbes 2012)
“I strongly believe that those of us who are privileged to have wealth should contribute significantly to try and create a better world for the millions who are far less privileged. I will continue to act on this belief.”
Andrew Forrest, non-executive chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, and Nicola Forrest
Net Worth: $5.8 billion (Forbes 2012)
“While giving responsibly is challenging to do well, you will find it even more satisfying than the exhilaration you experienced when creating your enterprises. It was your logic, intuition, focus, foresight, good fortune, relentless determination and work capacity that produced the wealth you now ponder the future of. Yet it is also these same powerful talents that cause you to ask yourself, could I become a major philanthropist and responsibly use my wealth to improve communities and the lives of those less fortunate, potentially touching millions of people?”
Hasso Plattner, co-founder of the software company SAP
Net Worth: $7.2 billion (Forbes 2012)
“More than 20 years ago, I set up a foundation focusing on education and global health challenges. It is extremely rewarding to see the impact money well spent can have. I had the great privilege to study at one of the best German technical universities, University of Karlsruhe, and the education was nearly free. Without question this became the foundation for my personal success.
“On one hand I feel obliged to support the company I once co-founded, and on the other hand I want to give back to the society which enabled my education. The foundation is a way to do both.”
Vladimir Potanin, chairman of Interros
Net Worth: $14.5 billion (Forbes 2012)
“Several years ago I announced my decision to donate a major part of my wealth to philanthropy. I genuinely believe that wealth should work for public good and, therefore, I am trying to make my own contribution toward a better world, especially toward a better future for my own country, Russia.
“I am confident that one cannot solve social problems by simply writing a check. Personal involvement is of great importance, and that is why in 1999 I established my own foundation to support programs in the area of education, culture and philanthropy development.”
Net Worth: Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, chairman of Berjaya Group
$1.2 billion (Forbes 2012)
“I am also keenly aware that there is only so much money that a person needs for himself and his family, and this brings home the sense that when one is blessed with great wealth beyond what is needed, there is a corresponding moral and social responsibility to put the money to good use. For this reason, I have for many years done my part to help the less fortunate and underprivileged through monetary donations and other means of material support. I have also established a foundation known as Better Malaysia Foundation to organize and focus these efforts with the aim of giving back to the community and generally making Malaysia a better place. This, in part, is also to return to society what I have benefited through the support my fellow Malaysians have given to the various businesses of both the publicly listed Berjaya group of companies of which I am the major shareholder and my other privately held concerns.”