By William Jenkins
For this issue of Legacy Arts, we want to feature some of those who have taken The Giving Pledge. Each of the following excerpts is taken from their actual letters accepting the pledge. Be inspired to give! Read more at givingpledge.org.
Sara Blakely’s Giving Pledge
Since I was a little girl I have always known I would help women … I have so much gratitude for being a woman in America. I never lose sight that I was born in the right country, at the right time. And, I never lose sight of the fact that there are millions of women around the world who are not dealt the same deck of cards upon their birth. Simply because of their gender, they are not given the same chance I had to create my own success and follow my dreams. It is for those women that I make this pledge. At Spanx, philanthropy is part of our culture. I believe in sharing the opportunity to give back directly with the people who have helped me earn the right to do so in the first place. … I am committed to the belief that we would all be in a much better place if half the human race (women) were empowered to prosper, invent, be educated, start their own businesses, run for office—essentially be given the chance to soar! I pledge to invest in women because I believe it offers one of the greatest returns on investment. While many of the world’s natural resources are being depleted, one is waiting to be unleashed—women.
Richard and Joan Branson’s Giving Pledge
Stuff really is not what brings happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters. Happily our children, who will be our principal heirs, agree with me on this. As and when we take monies out of the Virgin Group of companies the majority of it will be invested in entrepreneurial approaches to help make a difference in the world. We want the value created by the Virgin Group to be used to invest in new collaborative approaches to addressing issues, where business, governments and not-for-profits join forces to create a healthy, equitable and peaceful world for future generations to enjoy. We started by trying to give a voice to the young people of the 1960s and hope our “Giving pledge” will help many generations to come. We look forward to working with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in expanding the number of people who are part of this pledge outside America. We are honoured to be joining this great group of leaders as part of a movement where all sectors are working together towards radical new approaches to solving issues that will help to truly change the world for the better.
Richard and Joan Branson
My Commitment to Giving
The reality of great wealth is that you can’t spend it and you can’t take it with you. For decades, I’ve been committed to giving away the vast majority of my wealth to causes that I’m passionate about—and that my children are passionate about. And so I am enthusiastically taking the Giving Pledge, and nearly all of my net worth will be given away in the years ahead or left to my foundation. Making a difference in people’s lives—and seeing it with your own eyes—is perhaps the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do. If you want to fully enjoy life—give. And if you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing—by far—is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children. Long term, they will benefit more from your philanthropy than from your will. I believe the philanthropic contributions I’m now making are as much gifts to my children as they are to the recipient organizations. 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 descendants. And by giving, we inspire others to give of themselves, whether their money or their time.
Michael R. Bloomberg
My Philanthropic Pledge
In 2006, I made a commitment to gradually give all of my Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic foundations. I couldn’t be happier with that decision. Now, Bill and Melinda Gates and I are asking hundreds of rich Americans to pledge at least 50% of their wealth to charity. So I think it is fitting that I reiterate my intentions and explain the thinking that lies behind them. First, my pledge: More than 99% of my wealth will go to philanthropy during my lifetime or at death. Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day. Millions of people who regularly contribute to churches, schools, and other organizations thereby relinquish the use of funds that would otherwise benefit their own families. The dollars these people drop into a collection plate or give to United Way mean forgone movies, dinners out, or other personal pleasures. In contrast, my family and I will give up nothing we need or want by fulfilling this 99% pledge. Moreover, this pledge does not leave me contributing the most precious asset, which is time. Many people, including—I’m proud to say—my three children, give extensively of their own time and talents to help others. Gifts of this kind often prove far more valuable than money.
Warren E. Buffet
Bill and Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge
Our animating principle is that all lives have equal value. Put another way, it means that we believe every child deserves the chance to grow up, to dream and do big things. We have been blessed with good fortune beyond our wildest expectations, and we are profoundly grateful. But just as these gifts are great, so we feel a great responsibility to use them well. That is why we are so pleased to join in making an explicit commitment to the Giving Pledge. The idea of the pledge came out of discussions we had with other givers about what they were doing about what had worked in philanthropy and what had not worked. Everyone shared how giving had made their lives richer. Everyone who attended was inspired by listening to the others’ passion and encouraged to do even more. For the two of us, because we see amazing progress every day, but also, how much more work remains, we’re honored to be a part of this pledge effort. … Both of us were fortunate to grow up with parents who taught us some tremendously important values. Work hard. Show respect. Have a sense of humor. And if life happens to bless you with talent or treasure, you have a responsibility to use those gifts as well and as wisely as you possibly can. Now we hope to pass this example on to our own children. We feel very lucky to have the chance to work together in giving back the resources we are stewards of. By joining the Giving Pledge effort, we’re certain our giving will be more effective because of the time we will spend with this group. We look forward to sharing what a wonderful experience this has been for us and learning from the experience of others.
Bill and Melinda Gates
All copy and art is used by permission of The Giving Pledge. For more articles on legacy planning, click here to subscribe to Legacy Arts Magazine.