Billionaires Hold Second Meeting to Discuss Their Giving

On the heels of the announcement that twelve more families have signed on to the Giving Pledge campaign launched by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, some three dozen signatories to the pledge recently gathered to share some of the philanthropic lessons they have learned, the Economist reports.

Unlike the initial Giving Pledge gathering last year, this year's meeting was designed to address some of the critical questions around the meaning and practice of philanthropy. Held at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, the meeting included sessions on education reform, poverty alleviation, medical research, international giving, and effective collaboration. According to the Economist, participants were so intrigued by a session on impact investing, an approach to investing that considers the social and environmental impacts of an investment in addition to its financial return, that they plan to have a follow-up meeting devoted to the topic.

Eighty-one billionaires have signed the pledge since the campaign was launched in 2010, and each one has submitted a letter detailing why they decided to do so. Buffett, who has admitted to being inspired by the example of nineteenth-century industrialist-turned-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, told the Economist that Carnegie's concern about the destabilizing effect of growing income inequality is virtually absent from most of the pledge letters. "I do not see any of the philanthropic activity I run into motivated by the idea that this is going to calm the masses," he said. "[I]t is amazing to me the degree of inequality that exists without people really getting upset."

"Spreading Gospels of Wealth." The Economist 05/19/2012.