The Giving Pledge – +Bill & Melinda Gates +Warren Buffet
A few months ago, I read a good article. In the article it was stated:
Religion is a matter of faith; politics is a game of comparison
For a moment, allow yourself the liberty of rooting for the rich. And, read
I read the reasons giving for participating, and it includes:
- A first-generation fortune is the most likely to be given away, but once a fortune is inherited it’s less likely that a very high percentage will go back to society – Bill Gates
- Hey, I don’t have to prove my position relative to my parents. I just have to figure out what I’m doing relative to the world. – Bill Gates
- Mr. Braman had “no sense of personal limitations whatsoever,” says Mr. Gates Sr.
- My earliest memories include my father’s exhortations about how important it is to give back. These early teachings were ingrained in me, and a portion of the first dollars I earned, I gave away. Over the years, the emotional and psychological returns I have earned from charitable giving have been enormous. The more I do for others, the happier I am. The happiness and optimism I have obtained from helping others are a big part of what keeps me sane. My life and business have not been without some decent size bumps along the way, and my psychological health and wellbeing have made managing these inevitable challenges much easier – Bill & Karen Ackman
- We look upon our financial position with a mix of disbelief and humility, never having dreamed that we would be in this situation. Our backgrounds are similar to that of many Americans. We each had a solid middle-class upbringing with an emphasis on values, work ethic and social responsibility. We each attended public secondary school and worked our way through private universities. And, of course, we dreamed of one day being “rich,” in the way that all young people fantasize about having everything they want. To our great surprise, we now fit that very elementary label. We have more than ample resources to be good providers for our family and mentors to our children, and we have a lifestyle that is comfortable and then some. – Laura and John Arnold
- Everyone is dealt a group of cards at birth. With them come possibilities and responsibilities. What one does with them is up to each one of us; and the sum of those choices, constitute our lives – Nicolas Berggruen
- My choice was to ruin my son’s life by giving him money or giving 90+% to charity. Not much of a choice. Service to others seems the only intelligent choice for the use of wealth. The other choices especially personal consumption seem either useless or harmful. – Manoj Bhargava
- Giving also allows you to leave a legacy that many others will remember. Rockefeller, Carnegie, Frick, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Duke – we remember them more for the long-term effects of their philanthropy than for the companies they founded, or for their descendents. And by giving, we inspire others to give of themselves, whether their money or their time – Michael R Bloomberg
- The third area of our philanthropy is the arts. We have both been enriched not only by the visual and performing arts but also by the artists we have met, whose view of the world has broadened our perspectives and enlightened our conversations. Our support of the arts is driven by the desire to make art accessible to the broadest public – ELI AND EDYTHE BROAD
- Philanthropy is in the DNA of my family. My parents were both active participants in Jewish, local Montreal and Canadian charities. The dining table conversation was a place for discussing what was important to them in that world. I’ll never forget we four siblings knitting (yes, the 2 boys also) squares for blankets to be sent to the troops overseas during World War II! An inspiration from Mother! It is no surprise then, that each of us has contributed to society, each in his or her own way… – CHARLES R. BRONFMAN
- My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.) My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate’s distribution of long straws is wildly capricious – Warren Buffett
- At first we experienced the worry about not being able to take care of the basics. When we earned more money, we experienced relief and then the diminishing benefits of having more money. We learned that beyond having enough money to help secure the basics – quality relationships, health, stimulating ideas, etc. – having more money, while nice, wasn’t all that important. We experienced directly what the studies on happiness show — that once the basics are covered there is no correlation between how much money one has and how happy one is — but there is a high correlation between having meaningful work and meaningful relationships to one’s health and happiness – Ray and Barbara Dalio
- Being a first generation American has many rewards. Among them is having the opportunity to succeed in this free country, and then succeeding enough to have the privilege of knowing that “success unshared is failure.” – John Paul Dejoria
- Many years ago, I put virtually all of my assets into a trust with the intent of giving away at least 95% of my wealth to charitable causes. I have already given hundreds of millions of dollars to medical research and education, and I will give billions more over time. Until now, I have done this giving quietly – because I have long believed that charitable giving is a personal and private matter. So why am I going public now? Warren Buffett personally asked me to write this letter because he said I would be “setting an example” and “influencing others” to give. I hope he’s right – Larry Ellison
- Wealth is created. If that wealth is all passed on to another generation its benefits are often greatly underutilized as those who inherit the wealth view their mission as one of maintaining it. The better path is one that allows wealth to be activated as a force to make the world a better place through endless avenues. The incredible examples of Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates and their choice to ‘activate’ their substantial wealth to benefit as many people on this planet in a positive way has served as motivation for others with sizable capacity to also direct their assets in a similar manner. It is highly impressive that they have made this commitment. It is even more impressive that they have done so in the public manner that the ‘promise’ requires because it has taken the formerly hidden world of philanthropy and brought it the kind of visibility and light that will only bring more and more capital to its rightful place of helping to battle the vast amount of serious challenges this world faces – Dan & Jennifer Gilbert
- Coming from a family of preachers, the idea of giving back has been part of my life as long as I can remember. My parents and their parents before them were what some would consider poor, but they gave back whenever they could whether through small contributions of money, or through acts of kindness. God has blessed me with a wonderful family, a successful business and outstanding employees. I do not take these blessings lightly. I am honored to join this remarkable idea called The Giving Pledge – David & Barbara Green
- As one of Hilton’s principal shareholders, I decided to immediately pledge my proceeds of the sales — $1.2 billion — to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. In making the gift, I also pledged to follow my father’s example and donate 97 percent of my wealth to the Hilton Foundation. That gift, together with other personal assets, should bring the Foundation’s corpus to more than $4 billion.I recite our saga to consolidate information that was already a matter of public record over the past 90 years. I am gratified that our Foundation will live on forever, aiding the most vulnerable populations in the world. It will operate in perpetuity as a tribute to the customers, executives and hotel employees who created our wealth in the first place – Barron Hilton
- My pledge to give my entire fortune to curing cancer and assisting related other charities was formalized decades ago. As my sweet mother took her last breath in my arms and succumbed to the cancer she could no longer fight, I realized that our humanitarian focus must center on cancer. I saw with clarity the vision that the Huntsman fortune is a means to cure cancer and that my purpose on earth is to facilitate the research which will illuminate its mysteries – JON AND KAREN HUNTSMAN
- I suppose I arrived at my charitable commitment largely through guilt. I recognized early on, that my good fortune was not due to superior personal character or initiative so much as it was to dumb luck. I was blessed to be born in an advanced society with caring parents. So, I had the advantage of both genetics (winning the “ovarian lottery”) and upbringing. As I looked around at those who did not have these advantages, it became clear to me that I had a moral obligation to direct my resources to help right that balance.America’s “social contract” is equal opportunity. It is the most fundamental principle in our founding documents and it is what originally distinguished us from the old Europe. Yet, we have failed in achieving that seminal goal; in fact, we have lost ground in recent years. Another distinctly American principle is a shared partnership between the public and private sectors to foster the public good. So, if the democratically-directed public sector is shirking, to some degree, its responsibility to level the playing field, more of that role must shift to the private sector – George B. Kaiser
- Our family is thankful for the many blessings we have enjoyed. It is because we live in a special country, where freedom of opportunity is a cherished virtue that we can reach so high in the first place. But nothing makes our society better than when we live up to its most caring ideals of service and selflessness. So it is also with a deep sense of gratitude that we are pleased to be included in this wonderful undertaking – Elaine and Ken Langone
- Storytellers are teachers and communicators who speak a universal language. That was Homer’s primary role, and both Plato and Aristotle used narratives and dialogues as a means of educating. Good storytelling is based on truths and insights, and a good storyteller is ultimately a teacher – using the arts as a means of making education emotionally meaningful. These are all tools at our educational system’s disposal, but too often we aren’t making use of them – George Lucas
- I began my extensive philanthropic program in 1985 with the founding of the Alfred Mann Foundation (AMF). AMF is an operating public medical research organization that has focused mostly on applications of neuromodulation. It employs about 100 people; all but a few are scientists and engineers. The contributions of AMF are numerous, including developments to enable the deaf to hear and soon for the lame to walk. AMF also developed a long-term implantable glucose sensor (lasting ~1½ years) for diabetes and a number of other devices.The success of AMF has led me to try to use a similar approach to harness the intellectual property at elite research universities. Rarely does that work end up in successful products or successful ventures. To address this I am creating biomedical institutes at a number of elite research universities. Each university receives an endowment of at least $100 million. Ideas born within the academic faculty are developed into products within separate industrial institutes owned by the universities. When developed the products are then licensed out to existing or start-up businesses for commercialization. So far institutes have been founded at the University of Southern California, Purdue and the Technion in Israel – Alfred E. Mann
- I came into the world penniless and as a Catholic Christian, I know that I cannot take any of it with me, so it has long been my desire to use the material resources that I have been blessed with to help others in the most meaningful ways possible. My faith has always been a central part of my life; not that I have always lived it perfectly, but it has been the consistent guiding force as far back as I can remember. My early experience of the Catholic faith, taught to me by the Felician sisters when I was in the orphanage during my formative years, served as a foundation for what I would believe to be the most important things in life. As I built and expanded Domino’s Pizza for 38 years, my desire to spread the faith also grew – THOMAS S. MONAGHAN
- Harriet and I never expected to become members of the giving pledge group but since our wealth – like all fortunes – rests so heavily on the intelligence, work and contributions of others it seems only right that we voluntarily give most of it to causes that help improve the lives of people we do not know – MICHAEL MORITZ AND HARRIET HEYMAN
- In 2004, I had the extraordinary opportunity to help create Facebook, which has grown to connect half a billion people, dramatically increasing communication and transparency worldwide. As a result of Facebook’s success, I’ve earned financial capital beyond my wildest expectations. Today, I view that reward not as personal wealth, but as a tool with which I hope to bring even more benefit to the world.I’m grateful to my friends and family for shaping my understanding of effective philanthropy, educating me on areas of need, and demonstrating time and again the power of a good idea, well executed – DUSTIN MOSKOVITZ AND CARI TUNA
- One of the admirable qualities of our great country is the history and culture of helping those less fortunate. In America giving is not unusual; it is mainstream. I always thought if I were lucky enough to be in a position to help others, I would. The vast majority of Americans are this way. This is who we are. And while separate acts of generosity are generally not remarkable, taken as a whole it defines us. I never imagined not doing my part.I have been lucky in two significant ways. First, I had the good luck to be raised by parents who provided me with an education, good values and love. In other words, the odds of leading a productive life were materially tilted in my favor. Second, fortune smiled on me in my work over the past thirty years. I do work hard (probably too hard), but others have worked harder and smarter with less financial success. Outliers happen and my number came up.While I do not believe we should eliminate the possibility of extraordinary results in business as it is an essential element in our country’s remarkable history of economic growth, we should make sure that those with challenges either at their start or along the way get a helping hand. It is fair and right, and in the long term in our collective interest. The same case can be made for charitable support for education, health care, research, and the environment.I believe those like me that enjoyed financial success are often misunderstood. Economic success is rarely the goal of successful entrepreneurs. Our motivation was pursuit of a passion. And in a few cases pursuit of that passion lead to financial success. It follows then that those that achieve unusual economic gains would not seek to perpetuate their wealth, but recognize that good fortune confers responsibility to safeguard for future generations what helped advance our fortunes – JONATHAN M. NELSON
- Our view is fairly simple. We have more money than our family will ever need. There’s no need to hold onto it when it can be put to use today, to help solve some of the world’s most intractable problems.In thinking about how we could be most effective, we began our work by reminding ourselves of our core values, including respect for others and a sense of service. We’ve made a conscious effort to remain true to these guiding principles as our efforts grow and evolve. The eBay community also taught us a valuable lesson: people respond to opportunity in inspiring ways. The organizations we’ve created and the time and energy we spend on various causes is rooted in our belief that people are inherently capable but frequently lack opportunity.Today we believe our philanthropic impact is amplified because our approach uses a wide variety of tools and resources. We don’t just write checks; we engage deeply with the organizations we support to help them reach and improve the lives of millions, not just thousands. We invest in for profit businesses that serve overlooked populations with much-needed products and services. We reach out to like-minded investors and advocates to form coalitions that support issues that will benefit from a unified voice – Pierre & Pam Omidyar
- One of the most memorable moments in my life was at a charity dinner I was attending for a breast cancer cause. A woman approached me and said, “I just wanted to say thank you—because of you my sister is alive.” I happened to be standing next to the man who was really responsible for that wonderful news—Dr. Dennis Slamon.I first learned of Dr. Slamon’s research about 20 years ago when we were introduced by a mutual friend, Lily Tartikoff. He told me he had found abnormally large quantities of a gene called HER2 in about 30% of breast-cancer tumors. But he hadn’t yet proven that the gene played a pivotal role in the disease. He wanted to begin testing antibodies that might slow some of the more aggressive forms of cancer. The trouble was the research wasn’t developed enough for drug-company backing, and funding it with government grants would add years to the study. The idea of funding this immediately appealed to me. I have always been interested in giving to projects that may not get done otherwise. If the research wasn’t productive, I would have spent money to no avail, but, if the idea worked, the potential was enormous—it was a risk I was willing to take. I asked Dr. Slamon what he needed and then told him to get to work.The result of that research was Herceptin, the only drug known to cure certain types of breast cancer. And it started helping women, like that woman’s sister whom I will probably never meet, a full 10 years earlier than if Dr. Slamon had not received my gift – RONALD O. PERELMAN
- My father took a job no one else would take – – washing dishes in a steamy caboose on the Union Pacific railroad. He ate and slept there and saved virtually every penny he made. He took those savings and started the inevitable Greek restaurant, open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year for 25 years. Throughout this period, he always sent money to his desperately poor family in Greece and fed countless numbers of hungry poor who came knocking on the back door of his restaurant. Above all else, he wanted to save so as to invest in his children’s education.I was also informed by the great novelist, Kurt Vonnegut, who once told a story that seemed to capture my situation perfectly. He and Joseph Heller were at a party given by a wealthy hedge fund manager at his majestic beach house in the Hamptons, the summer playground on Long Island where the rich and famous congregate. Kurt and Joe both had made their marks by satirizing life’s absurdities – Kurt with best-selling novels like Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions, Joe with the incomparableCatch-22. During the course of the party, Kurt looked around at the surroundings and asked Heller: “Joe, doesn’t it bother you that this guy makes more in a day than you ever made from the worldwide sales of Cach-22?” Joe thought for a moment and then said, “No, not really. I have something that he doesn’t have.” “What could you possibly have that he doesn’t have?” Kurt asked. “I know the meaning of enough.” My father often said the same thing.
Given the serious political challenges and our country’s apparent reluctance to accept the required shared sacrifice, no doubt many are saying my Foundation is not only a presumptuous mission, but a foolhardy one. So, I quote my old University of Chicago professor George Stigler, “If you have no alternative, you have no problem.” I asked myself this melancholy question: How will I feel 10 to 20 years from now if I look back and ask why, oh why did we all leave such a legacy? How could we have done this, not simply to America, but to our own children and grandchildren? Could there be a worse feeling? Can not trying really be an acceptable alternative?Finally, Warren, you and Bill Gates know better than anyone how distinctly American private philanthropy is – Peter G. Peterson
- I’ve long stated that I enjoy making money, and I enjoy giving it away. I like making money more, but giving it away is a close second. To date, I’ve given away nearly $800 million to a wide-range of charitable organizations, and I look forward to the day I hit the $1 billion mark. I’m not a big fan of inherited wealth. It generally does more harm than good. I want to thank my friends Bill and Warren for their leadership – I am pleased to join them. – T. BOONE PICKENS
- My parents and their friends in the little town in North Carolina where I grew up were always very philanthropic. They wanted our schools to be the best they could be, and they worked hard to get them that way. They worked on our parks. They worked with the local hospital to make it the best. We had two local colleges, Livingstone and Catawba – one black, one white – and the townspeople were supportive of both.One very fortunate thing is that I did not get nearly as enthusiastic about philanthropy early on as I am now; if I had there would be very little to give away. I have found so many great new projects to work with just in the last several years: the national parks, the families of our military, stem cells, and now obesity. The Milken Institute calculates that if we could get Americans back to their weight level of 1991, we could save a trillion dollars a year. A trillion dollars, think of that! Besides making Americans healthier, we could now solve the fiscal crisis in the US – Julian H. Peterson, Jr.
- Philanthropists, at their best, try to address serious societal problems and occasionally come up with innovations that lead to enduring change In the end, success requires much more than financial resources, although money is, of course, essential. Good ideas are just as important; otherwise one risks wasting both the funds and the opportunity. Effective philanthropy also requires patience – patience to deal with unexpected obstacles; patience to wait for the first, slight stirrings of change; and patience to listen to the insights and ideas of others.For five generations, my family has experienced the real satisfaction and pleasure of philanthropy. Our engagement has helped to create a strong group of institutions, including the University of Chicago, The Rockefeller University, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The practice of philanthropy also has enabled many of us to become personally involved in efforts to address critical global challenges such as poverty, health, sustainable development, and environmental degradation. Our family continues to be united in the belief that those who have benefitted the most from our nation’s economic system have a special responsibility to give back to our society in meaningful ways – David Rockefeller
- I was born and raised in modest, blue collar circumstances in Baltimore. The making of large sums of money–and the disposition of them–was just not on my radar screen.My goal was simply to do well enough in school to secure scholarships to college and law school to practice law; and to fulfill a long-time desire–perhaps inspired by President Kennedy’s inaugural address–to move back and forth from the practice of law into various public service positions. And I was on that course–I graduated from the University of Chicago Law School–with the assistance of considerable scholarship money–practiced law in New York at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison–and (through luck far more than skill) managed three years after law school to find myself as a deputy domestic policy assistant to President Carter.I expected that I would stay at the White House for eight years–the voters obviously felt four years of my service was enough–and would then live a life of shuttling back and forth into government service from a Washington law firm perch, with the goal of hopefully doing some public good during each time in government service. The income level of a Washington lawyer does not allow for the accumulation of large wealth, but I felt it was more than enough to satisfy my somewhat spartan needs and the likely needs of any family I would produce and raise.And then, as is the case with so many individuals who accumulate wealth, my life did not go in the direction I had expected or intended, or desired. After a few years of practicing law following my White House days, I realized that I was not all that great a lawyer; I had growing reservations about constantly uprooting my career to go back and forth into government, (especially as a family emerged); and I felt that I should try to do something I might enjoy more than law or government service.Philanthropic activity is, unfortunately, more of an American phenomenon than a global phenomenon. My hope is that the Pledge will inspire similar efforts to get under way abroad. And while it is likely such efforts will focus on the wealthiest of individuals in other countries, my hope, again, is that individuals of all levels of resources will also increase their giving, and feel they are helping their countries and humanity by doing so – DAVID M. RUBENSTEIN
- Jewish Culture. We both have strong ties to our Jewish heritage, and charitable giving, also known as, tzedakah, is a cornerstone of our culture and upbringing. We are committed to promoting a strong Jewish culture in our community, promoting tolerance and understanding among different religious cultures, and supporting the state of Israel.Our philanthropy has always been in our hearts and it was easy for us to look for ways to give back. Our philanthropy represents the bridge from our family to our community, from the past to the future, and from our passions to our convictions. It is also important to our family that perhaps our gifts will encourage others to give as well. The Giving Pledge certainly fulfills that goal – HENRY AND SUSAN SAMUELI
- As former CEOs of a highly successful financial institution, we were rewarded monetarily beyond our wildest imagination, at the same time experiencing the emotional high associated with building a great company from scratch and winning in the competitive race. At the same time, we found equal gratification in working with employees and customers.For example, an important part of our staff was composed of single working mothers. We provided training and counseling to these women, so that they could rise through the ranks and become managers with greatly enhanced earning power. On the lending side of our business, we found that there was no greater gratification than enabling a family to own their own home, especially when they thought it was an impossible dream. These are a few examples of the sense of fulfillment we experienced in “giving back” and which, among other things, led to our decision to devote our energy and money to making a difference in people’s lives. Believe it or not, the psychic income – the highs if you will – associated with giving money away thoughtfully and effectively has been even more gratifying than running a successful business – Herb and Marion Sandler
- We would not be in this position if not for the extraordinary people that made AES a success. We deeply appreciate their commitment to expanding access to electricity around the world and the personal values they demonstrate. Giving to causes that will make the world a better place socially and environmentally is one of the ways we can express our thanks to them – Vicki and Roger Sant
- Years later, I grew to understand that these expressions of my father’s universal ideals probably stemmed from his deeply-rooted Jewish values. In addition to caring for our own community, Jewish tradition teaches that we have a solemn duty to treat all people with respect and care. In the words of Maimonides, “One ought to treat everyone with derekh eretz (civility and humanity) and hesed(mercy and kindness).” – LYNN SCHUSTERMAN
- I grew up in a middle class family in Canada. My dream was to be a writer who tells stories that make a difference in the world. Along the way, when I got out of business school, I became the first full-time employee and the first President of a fledgling company with an online auction service called AuctionWeb. That company later became better known by its corporate name, eBay. When the company went public in 1998, all of a sudden I went from being in debt and living in a house with five roommates, to having hundreds of millions of dollars in the value of my eBay shares.Until then, I had not thought much about philanthropy. But with my newfound paper wealth, I resolved to do good things for the world with that money, in smart ways.The first thing I did, in 1999, was to start the Skoll Foundation. Today, the Skoll Foundation has become the leading organization in the world supporting social entrepreneurs to drive large-scale impact. Each year, we find innovative social entrepreneurs from around the world – people like Paul Farmer of Partners in Health or Ann Cotton of Camfed – and we support them over a multi-year period. We also convene the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, at Oxford University. I am proud of the work we are doing together with our partners and grantees. In the words of one of my heroes, John Gardner, we are “betting on good people doing good things.”In 2004, I resurrected my original vision of telling stories that make a difference in the world by creating Participant Media. Since then, Participant has released over 25 movies, including Good Night and Good Luck, The Kite Runner, Charlie Wilson’s War, An Inconvenient Truth, The Cove and Syriana. Our films have won four Academy Awards and received 18 nominations. But I am most proud of the impact that these films have had on social issues – human rights, Afghanistan, climate change and so on. We even have a social action network called TakePart that is rapidly becoming the online community for social activists and concerned citizens alike. For me, Participant is another form of philanthropy, as I believe that good stories well told can inspire and compel social change.I have already donated about half of my net wealth to these organizations in the last eleven years. I expect to contribute almost all of my wealth to the betterment of humanity either during or after my lifetime.In the meantime, I will continue to tell stories that awaken enlightened self-interest, activate citizen engagement, and galvanize political will. I will continue to double down on innovative solutions that have enduring social impact. And I will continue to support catalytic mechanisms, like the Skoll World Forum and TakePart, that unite the forces of change from all corners and cultures of humanity.In doing so, I hope also to inspire others to do the same. The world is a vast and complicated place and it needs each of us doing all we can to ensure a brighter tomorrow for future generations. Conrad Hilton said it is the duty of successful people to give back to the society from which their success was derived. I feel privileged to have grown up in Canada and to now live in the US, two countries that value and reward education, hard work and good choices. I feel lucky to have been able to pursue my dreams and I hope that my contributions will in some small way lead to a sustainable world of peace and prosperity – Jeff Skoll
- Because of our early estate planning, hard work and luck resulting from being in the right place at the right time, our entire family is now in a position to engage in philanthropy at a relatively young age. Thus John Michael has decided to join Susan and me in making this commitment. Each of us has provided that 100% of our wealth will be given away during our lifetimes or left to the Sobrato Family Foundation, upon our death – John, Susan, and John Michael Sobrato
- Our passion, our mission is to transform health and health care, in America and beyond. Our family foundation was established for that purpose.Growing up in South Africa during the time of apartheid, we had direct experience of inequality, including great disparities in health and access to good care. After thirty years living in the United States, we see similar disparities in health care on our doorstep in Los Angeles, and across the nation. What was unconscionable to us in South Africa in the twentieth century is just as unconscionable in the United States in the twenty-first.America has been a land of opportunity for us, as it has for so many immigrants. We are proud to be Americans and we want to see our country strong and healthy. We are blessed to have resources and expertise to contribute.Our pledge is that, through our family foundation, we will work to erode and eliminate disparities in health care, and to help bring about a system of health care which aims first to keep people healthy, and secondly to ensure that everyone has access to the best quality health care when they need it. We and our children are dedicating our time and our resources to that end – MICHELE AND PATRICK SOON-SHIONG
- People like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller led the way – as have Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Ted Turner today. Those who fail to follow the example set by these fine people will never know what they have missed. In our case it has been at least as satisfying to give the money away as it was to earn it.On top of getting that pleasure there is a further reason to do this. When we began giving we were looking to receive nothing in return – but we have seen an important and unexpected “fringe benefit.” We have come to know a number of wonderful people we would not otherwise have met. It happens when you go in this direction: you meet interesting and inspiring people who are out there trying to make this a better world. These are some of the best people you will ever know. We look forward to meeting more such people in the Giving Pledge group – Ted & Vada Stanley
- Almost by accident – we’ve focused on good investing not making money – we currently have more assets than we could reasonably spend in our lifetime. Our original impetus for saving money revolved around wanting our kids to enjoy the same educational opportunities that we had, so that they could succeed on their own terms, assuming that they worked hard. That’s what our much appreciated parents did for us. We never aimed to endow our children with wealth. After honest conversations with each of them, singly and together, we know that they don’t want that either. We also worried about affording excellent healthcare for our family. But otherwise, we enjoy our life here in California and don’t require more material possessions…..We will not, however, do so heedlessly. We do not knock other approaches, but we have strong opinions based on lessons learned about how to “invest” our resources on behalf of the common cause. For one, we harness wherever possible the power of markets to direct investment effectively, even as we recognize their inherent limitations. People of all income categories know what they value and will demonstrate that most convincingly by where they are willing to dedicate their scarce resources. At the same time, we know that markets do not price externalities and shouldn’t be expected to support adequately public goods like education or clean water. There is, after all, an abidingly important place for government, social compact and social conscience. Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank family of social businesses have made a major impression on us, as they’ve successfully engineered good incentives, rewarded industry and measured success – and failure –to good outcomes for all people – TOM STEYER AND KAT TAYLOR
- Giving back was instilled in me by my father at a young age. In addition to being active with Rotary and other civic organizations, my dad was also philanthropic with his own small resources. Not only did he make contributions to causes that he cared about, he also supported the tuition of two African-American students at his alma mater, Milsaps College in the late 1950s. It made a big impression on me to see someone as hard-charging as my father take the time to quietly help out two young people like this. Sometime during the 1970s, before I made a significant amount of money, I attended a seminar on philanthropy. At dinner I was seated next to a man who was quite a bit older than I and we began discussing charitable foundations. He told me about his family’s foundation and the good things they were doing around the world. I filed this away in my mind and told myself that if I were ever wealthy enough to have a foundation, I’d be sure to make it a family foundation so that my children would be involved and understand the importance of giving back.Fast forward twenty years to September 1997. I was being honored as the 1997 Man of the Year by the United Nations Association and I was contemplating what I’d say that evening. ….. That was the night my $1 billion pledge was heard around the world and the United Nations Foundation was born. I also made it clear that while the amount I was giving away was certainly a lot of money, I was also putting other rich people on notice that I would be calling on them to be more generous. Now that I was pledging such a large amount, I could lead by example, and it was time for me to get out in front of the parade…..I remind myself of a conversation I had many years ago with Jacques Cousteau. I asked him if he ever got discouraged or worried that the problems he was working on were insurmountable. He looked at me and said, “Ted, it could be that these problems can’t be solved, but what can men of good conscience do but keep trying until the very end?” At that moment, his very words inspired me to want to do even more.I don’t measure success in numbers, but I consider my contributions of more than 1.3 billion dollars to various causes over the years to be one of my proudest accomplishments and the best investment I’ve ever made. Those dollars have improved lives, saved species, fought disease, educated children, inspired change, challenged ideas and opened minds; and at the time of my death, virtually all of my wealth will have gone to charity.Looking back, if I had to live my life over, there are things I would do differently, but the one thing I would not change is my charitable giving. I’m particularly thankful for my father’s advice to set goals so high that they can’t possibly be achieved during a lifetime and to give help where help is needed most. That inspiration keeps me energized and eager to keep working hard every day on giving back and making the world a better place for generations to come.
- I started my life on a dairy farm in very modest circumstances, where there was an abundance of hard work and great love. My parents, Robert and Lena Ueltschi, nurtured in all of us a respect for one another and a deep sense of responsibility. They likewise nurtured each of our dreams and hopes. For me, that dream was to fly. It’s hard to explain how utterly preposterous my idea of becoming a pilot would have seemed at the time. The Great Depression was on, and our family of nine lived on the thinnest of margins, and here I was, the youngest, jabbering on about flying airplanes. They encouraged my big idea. When I decided to start a hamburger stand called the “Kitty Hawk” to earn money for flying lessons, it was their faith in me that made it all possible.At Pan Am, safety of our passengers and crew was an obsession. As I spent more time as a corporate pilot, it was clear to me that there was a real need for training programs for corporate pilots similar to the kinds of training I received as a pilot at Pan Am. So, in 1951, with the encouragement of Mr. Trippe and the blessing of my wife, Eileen, I took out a $15,000 mortgage on my house and opened FlightSafety. From the very first, we knew that what we were trying to do mattered. It was important to the industry and important to our clients. In the end, it was about saving lives.As aviation grew, so did our business. Our business model evolved over time, but our fundamental beliefs did not. FlightSafety International was built on some guiding principles: striving to be the leader in our field; staying disciplined; and focusing on contributing something back to our customers and the industry. Its success was thanks to the contributions of remarkable and talented colleagues. I know for certain that I can never repay their trust, their patience and, in some cases, their forgiveness.Building a business and raising a family can sometimes feel at odds with one another, but I was blessed beyond my wildest dreams by my wife, Eileen, and our four wonderful children. Their love and support for my vision of making a difference with FlightSafety were critical contributions that never showed up on any balance sheet, but were equally important to the success we achieved. Vision is fundamental to so much of my life’s work. It started with Orbis International 30 years ago when I lent a hand to transform an old DC-8 airplane into a flying eye hospital. Orbis International programs have helped save or restore the eyesight of millions of people by training ophthalmic professionals in the developing world and distributing medications. Orbis is one of the finest applications of an airplane ever.Unfortunately, there remain more than 40 million people who have lost their sight needlessly and those numbers are going up at an alarming rate. Half of them are blinded by untreated cataracts. In many regions of the developing world, 60-70% of all blindness is cataract related. In addition, there are close to two hundred million who are visually impaired by cataract disease leading unfulfilled lives. This is all happening in spite of the existence of a miracle surgery called Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) which takes as little as 5 minutes to perform and costs as little as $35. With the encouragement of my son, Jim, we founded a not-for-profit organization called HelpMeSee. Its purpose is to promote MSICS and deliver a high fidelity simulator-based training system to train 30 thousand highly skilled MSICS specialists. We have assembled a wonderful team of medical, simulator engineering, instructional courseware designers, management, development, and financial experts. I am personally committed to validating the efficacy of high fidelity simulator training of Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS). If we are successful as I expect we will be, for the first time millions of the poor cataract blind and visually impaired will have real hope of sight restoration.
I want to thank my friends Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for spearheading The Giving Pledge. I am proud to be in such good company with people who care so much. I particularly want to thank Bill Gates for his encouragement and help. We expect to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a very long time. Global health is where we want to make a difference.
I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. You can’t take it with you. My share will be contributed to helping the least advantaged people in the world lead healthy and productive lives through medical innovation. Pick your passion and make a difference — Albert Lee Ueltschi
- Education and partnership are at the heart of everything we do philanthropically and we make long term commitments to the organizations we lead: Sandy is currently the Chairman of the National Academy Foundation (since 1980); Carnegie Hall (since 1991); and Weill Cornell Medical College (since 1996), while Joan is Chair of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation (since 2000); Paul Smith’s College of the Adirondacks (since 2005); and Co-Chair of the New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Women’s Health Symposium (since 2000).Each day we are touched by the incredible work people from the organizations we are associated with, as well as countless others are doing. They are changing the world and helping bridge cultural divides thru education, healthcare and the arts. Among some of our proudest moments in philanthropy to date include: opening up the first American medical school overseas in Qatar in 2001 following the tragic events of 9/11 and at a time when many questioned doing something in the Middle East, as well as aiding in the development of a medical school in Tanzania and an HIV/AIDS clinic in Haiti; seeing Alvin Ailey be recognized as one of the most acclaimed international ambassadors of American culture and having a home which is the nation’s largest facility dedicated to dance; raising $60 million in one evening at Carnegie Hall to establish broad reaching music education programs; and working with nearly 50,000 students in over 500 academies of finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology and engineering each year and seeing 90% of them graduate, often the first in their family to do so – Sanford (Sandy) and Joan Weill
- You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” he says, adding that Apple’s people have long cared about such issues even if they haven’t previously spoken so openly about them. To Cook, changing the world always has been higher on Apple’s agenda than making money. He plans to give away all his wealth, after providing for the college education of his 10-year-old nephew.
- The Giving Pledge: A new club for billionaires (60 Minutes)