The Giving Pledge, the campaign launched by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage the nation's billionaires to give at least half of their fortunes to charity, has announced that forty families and individuals have signed on to the pledge in its first six weeks.
The Giving Pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract, and it does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations. Although the pledge is aimed at billionaires, the idea takes its inspiration from other efforts that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds.
Signatories of the pledge so far include Eli Broad, the former chairman of insurer SunAmerica and founder of homebuilder KB Home, and his wife Edythe, who committed 75 percent of their wealth to charity; Oracle Corporation co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison; Hilton Hotels co-chairman Barron Hilton; Business Wire founder Lorry I. Lokey; filmmaker George Lucas; former eBay president Jeff Skoll; eBay founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam; media tycoon Ted Turner; and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Others who have signed on to the pledge include Blackstone Group co-founder Peter G. Peterson, media entrepreneur H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest and his wife Marguerite, BP Capital Management chairman T. Boone Pickens, and Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.
"We've really just started, but already we've had a terrific response," said Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. "At its core, the Giving Pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used. We're delighted that so many people are doing just that — and that so many have decided to not only take this pledge but also to commit to sums far greater than the 50 percent minimum level."
For a complete list of the signatories, visit the Giving Pledge Web site.