Giving Pledge Spreads Philanthropy Abroad

  • Overseas
  • 2010

The twentieth century has witnessed an explosion in the number of billionaires. Under the leadership of Bill Gates, a group of billionaires announced a “Giving Pledge” in 2010, through which the signee promises to give away at least half of his or her wealth to charitable causes. The first 40 pledgers committed an estimated $125 billion to charity in this way. A year and a half later, 81 billionaires had made the commitment. By 2015, 137 individuals or couples had signed the Giving Pledge, representing many hundreds of billions of dollars of donations.

In addition to lining up Americans, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have visited China, India, Saudi Arabia, and other countries to encourage moguls there to consider American-style philanthropy. Their initial 2010 meeting in China yielded zero signatures, and commitments from other countries have been sporadic, but the first Indian signee came on board, along with the first African pledger. As of 2015, the individuals who had taken the Giving Pledge came from a dozen countries, evidence that U.S.-style
long-term giving is gradually spreading abroad.

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