Hearts of Gold: Forty Billionaires Pledge to Give Bulk of Wealth to Charity

Warren Buffett announces names of 40 of America's richest who have pledged to donate majority of wealth.
Warren Buffett announces names of 40 of America's richest who have pledged to donate majority of wealth.

Famed investor Warren Buffett Wednesday announced the names of 40 of America's wealthiest families and individuals who have signed on to the Giving Pledge, a charitable project that targets billionaires to pledge to donate the bulk of their wealth. From New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison, each of the individuals and families announced today have made a pledge to give the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice, either during their lifetime or after their death.

"We've really just started, but already we've had a terrific response," said Buffett, co-founder of the Giving Pledge, in a statement issued today. "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% minimum level."

A List of Luminaries

Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), announced this first group approximately six weeks after he kicked off the long-term charitable project with co-founders, Bill and Melinda Gates.

Each person who chooses to pledge the bulk of their wealth to charitable causes will make this statement publicly, along with a letter explaining their decision. The Giving Pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract. It does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations. At an annual event, those who take the pledge will come together to share ideas and learn from each other.

In addition to Buffett, the Gates, Bloomberg and Ellison, other wealthy supporters include such billionaires as Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen; SunAmerica founder Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe; IAC/Interactive (IACI) chief Barry Diller and his wife, designer Diane von Furstenberg; Ronald O. Perelman; David Rockefeller; Pierre Omidyar, who founded eBay, and his wife, Pam; BP Capital Management's T. Boone Pickens; CNN founder Ted Turner and former Citigroup (C) Chairman Sanford and Joan Weill.

"Shrouds Don't Have Pockets"

"Our Pledge is this: We will continue to give away all of the wealth we have been so fortunate to make except for a very small percentage allocated to our children and grandchildren between now and the time we pass because we are firm believers that shrouds don't have pockets," wrote Sanford and Joan Weill in their pledge letter.

A full list of those taking the pledge and personal pledge letters by many of these supporters about their commitment to give is available online.