The Giving Pledge – Philanthropy and Peer Pressure at its Best

As someone who gives back – as a volunteer and fundraising event participant – albeit it in a much smaller way than Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, I was thrilled to read about the challenge they have made to their billionaire counterparts in the U.S.  I know it was positioned more as an “invitation” to follow their leads and “give back” the majority (half) of their fortunes to fund important causes and initiatives that the social sector – i.e. not-for-profit – should fund or is already trying to fund, albeit a bit less successfully recently during recessionary times.  

What a brilliant idea it is – the Giving Pledge – and a great name.  I hope we see many taking the challenge, or accepting the invitation, partly because it’s needed, and partly because it’s simply the right thing to do, when you have the means.  I wonder whether we’ll see “peer pressure” at work, resulting in many rising to the occasion, whether it’s to fund existing charities or foundations, or to create their own – or a combination of both approaches.  There are a lot of organizations already doing important, good work for society that could certainly use the support.  I hope they find a way to successfully appeal to the philanthropist in these billionaires, in a way that meets both of their needs, because that’s really what it’s all about. 

Good for Gates and Buffett to have taken this stand and put out the challenge.  I’m waiting anxiously to see how their peers react, and of course, what the impact is here in Canada, hopefully with their lead being followed here.

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