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.”
Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe, founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, and Precious Motsepe
Net Worth: $2.7 billion (Forbes 2012)
“This selfless and compassionate characteristic is part of the age-old African culture of giving and caring for your neighbor and other members of your community. In South Africa it is embodied in the spirit and tradition of Ubuntu/Botho, in terms of which your well-being, happiness and success is dependent upon and influenced by the wellbeing, happiness and success of others…
“[We] recognise the huge responsibility and duty that the Motsepe family has to poor, unemployed, disabled, women, youth, workers and marginalized South Africans. We also have an ongoing obligation of nation building, uniting black and white South Africans and contributing toward making Africa and the world a better place.”
Victor Pinchuk, founder and main owner of international investment advisory firm EastOne Group, and of Interpipe Group
Net Worth: $4.2 billion (Forbes 2012)
“My goal in my social investments is to empower the next generation to change their country and the world. To enable them to build a new country based on openness and an understanding of the world of today and tomorrow. My focus is on using innovative approaches to provide access to education, health care and the inspirational power of contemporary art. Combined with modern and innovative business projects, I believe this constitutes a powerful formula for change. I have taken my first steps, with large-scale scholarships programs, opening a museum of contemporary art with free admission, and establishing a network of neonatal clinics—but this is just the beginning.
“I have a particular focus on my own country, Ukraine, and its integration with the world. As a post-Soviet society, Ukraine needs the support of “social investors” in order to implement reforms and to promote ideas like the rule of law. We face a long road ahead compared to Western countries, and we who have already benefitted from change must help more.”
Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, and Joan Branson
Net Worth: $4.2 billion (Forbes 2012)
“‘Stuff’ really is not what brings happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters.
“Happily our children, who will be our principal heirs, agree with me on this. As and when we take monies out of the Virgin Group of companies the majority of it will be invested in entrepreneurial approaches to help make a difference in the world. We want the value created by the Virgin Group to be used to invest in new collaborative approaches to addressing issues, where business, governments and not-for-profits join forces to create a healthy, equitable and peaceful world for future generations to enjoy.”
John Caudwell, businessman
Net Worth: $2.6 billion (Forbes 2012)
“At the moment, my main charitable cause in terms of passion is Caudwell Children. This charity helps children in dire medical need, whatever their illness. It helps children whose parents don’t have the financial ability to help them themselves. Caudwell Children helps about 3,000 children each year, and in some cases completely transforms their lives; in others it makes their lives more bearable, while for some it can make their dying wishes come true.
“My hope for Caudwell Children is that we will eventually help every eligible child in the U.K. and in other countries if I can find like-minded individuals to help me.”
Christopher Hohn, hedge fund manager
Hohn set up The Children’s Investment Fund in 2003, a hedge fund run by his wife, Jamie Cooper-Hohn. Its aim is to donate a portion of its profit to help children in developing countries. TCI gives 0.5% of its assets to The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation UK each year, with a further 0.5% of assets for every year during which the fund achieves returns of more than 11%. Bloomberg reported in January that TCI had $8.5 billion under management.
Mo Ibrahim, mobile communications entrepreneur
Net Worth: $1.1 billion (Forbes 2012)
“In 2006 I launched the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to focus on the issues of good governance and leadership in Africa. Good governance is the basket of public goods governments must deliver to its people [including] security, rule of law, economic opportunity, infrastructure, management of public finance, transparency, education, health and citizens’ rights. We need to move from narrative and rhetoric to facts and figures. Our Index of African Governance measures well over 100 parameters to evaluate government delivery in every African country. Effectively, we are producing an annual scorecard to measure performance. The objective is not to name or shame anybody but to understand where we are, what works and what doesn’t and to facilitate an objective discussion between all governments, parliaments, academics, business, civil society and beyond.”
David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville, former chairman of supermarket chain Sainsbury’s
Net Worth: $1.1 billion (Forbes 2012)
“The approach of my wife, Susie, and I to philanthropy is very simple. We do not believe that spending any more money on ourselves or our family would add anything to our happiness. However, using it to support social progress we have found deeply fulfilling. We focus on a few areas which require investment and which we care about deeply, and seeing these projects develop and bring major benefits to people has been a life-enhancing experience.”
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