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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

7 Billionaires Pledge Half Their Wealth to Charity

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The CEO of Groupon and a top hotel executive are among seven ultrawealthy individuals and families who recently pledged at least half their wealth to charity.

Started in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, the global Giving Pledge initiative has now received pledges from 122 signatories, representing 12 countries and 25 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The Giving Pledge does not involve direct appeals, pooling money or requirements to support a particular cause or organization, according to a statement from the group.

Pledge signatories come together throughout the year to discuss challenges, successes and failures, as well as how to be smarter about giving.

Melinda Gates said in the statement that the Giving Pledge “hopes to inspire people to tackle problems that are inherently difficult and diverse in an effort to address the pressing social issues they care about most.”

The biographies of all 122 signatories can be viewed on the Foundation Center’s site.

Following are the newest pledge signatories.

Beth and Seth ClarmanBeth and Seth Klarman. He is president and CEO of The Baupost Group, an investment firm, and she is president of The Klarman Family Foundation.

Country of citizenship: U.S.

Net worth: $1.1 billion (Forbes 2013)

“One key observation is that society’s problems seem to be compounding as fast or faster than wealth can compound, suggesting a greater urgency to current funding. And when we make charitable gifts, we almost always feel richer, not poorer, for having been given the opportunity to help.”

Richard Edwin and Nancy Peery Marriott. He is chairman of the board of directors of Host Hotels & Resorts and also chairman of First Media Corp. She is active in religious, community and civic activities and serves on First Media’s board.

Country of citizenship: U.S.

Net worth: $2 billion (Forbes 2013)

“Down through the years we have always supported the schools that have educated and trained us, the institutions that have helped us live healthy lives, and the communities that have supported us in our business endeavors. We will continue to do so during our lives and pledge that the bulk of our estate will go to a charitable foundation that will be run by our four very capable daughters who are already heavily involved in supporting their own communities. They are the greatest blessings of our lives and we are thrilled that they will be able to help bless the lives of future generations.”

Yuri Milner founded Group and now invests in Internet companies through the DST Global family of funds.

Country of citizenship: Russia.

Net worth: $1.1 billion (Forbes 2013)

“The Giving Pledge encourages more than investing in problem solving. It brings something approaching the scientific method to philanthropy. This means not just giving, but trying to learn from real-world experience and experiment in order to give effectively. This is a sure sign of progress: we are finding more answers, and we are getting better at asking the right questions.”

Bob and Renee Parsons. He is executive chairman and founder of GoDaddy, and she oversees The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation and heads up GoDaddy Cares, the corporation’s philanthropic arm.

Country of citizenship: U.S.

Net worth: $1.5 billion (Forbes 2013)

“Renee and I have always believed every child has the right to good nutrition, the best medical care, a good education, a happy and stress-free environment and the hope that they too will share in the American dream. We’ve dedicated our foundation and our resources to helping make this happen. It makes sense we join The Giving Pledge.”

Eric Lefkofsky, CEO of Groupon. (Photo: AP)Liz and Eric Lefkofsky. He is CEO and co-founder of Groupon Inc. and a co-founder of the venture capital firm Lightbank, and she is the director of the Lefkofsky Family Foundation.

Country of citizenship: U.S.

Net worth: $1.1 billion (Forbes 2013)

“We recognize that perhaps our greatest accomplishment—with the exception of the kids we raise–will not come from businesses we’ve started, but from the help we provide to people and causes around the world. We believe, with the others who have signed this Pledge that we are truly on the cusp of life-changing achievements that will improve our collective quality of life, and have an everlasting impact on generations to come.”

Dato Sri Tahir, an entrepreneur, is chairman of the China Committee in the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Country of citizenship: Indonesia.

Net worth: $2 billion (Forbes 2013)

“I don’t for a minute take for granted the many blessings I have received, and in the Christian spirit of it being more blessed to give than to receive, feel compelled to give back as generously as I have received.”

Hansjörg Wyss is chairman emeritus of Synthes Inc., a medical device company sold to Johnson & Johnson in 2012.

Country of citizenship: Switzerland.

Net worth: $8.7 billion (Forbes 2013)

“President Thomas Jefferson reminds us: ‘There is a debt of service due from every man to his country proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.’ I have been fortunate to benefit from the opportunities endowed by this nation, its land and our world. I am determined to fill my duty to others so we may always expand the reach of human possibility and compassion.”

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