The billionaire ‘Giving Pledge’ signed by Bill Gates and Elon Musk could soon be worth up to $600 billion

  • At least 175 people committed to donating a majority of their fortunes through the Giving Pledge, which could be worth as much as $600 billion by 2022, according to a Wealth-X report.
  • The pledge has drawn some criticism because it allows donors to name their own charities in their wills.
  • Education was the top philanthropic cause in 2017, with about 62% of billionaires donating at least part of their fortunes to higher education funding, scholarships and more. 

More than 150 billionaires and billionaire couples have signed the Giving Pledge to donate a majority of their fortunes to charity, and a new report from financial research company Wealth-X predicts the pledge may be worth as much as $600 billion by 2022.

According to Wealth-X, the total net worth of signatories in 2016 implied a pledged value of at least $350 billion. The new prediction is based on an increase in the number of signatories, an uptick in billionaire wealth during 2017, and projections for the billionaire population.

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Melinda Gates through the years
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Melinda Gates through the years
387450 01: Bill and Melinda Gates prepare to tee off August 27, 1994 at Farm Neck Golf Club, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard. (Photo by Stephen Rose/Liaison)
New York, UNITED STATES: (FILES) Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates (L) and his wife Melinda (R) hold a press conference in New York 02 December to announce a 100 million USD gift to establish the Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program. Time magazine said 18 December, 2005 it had selected rock star-turned-activist Bono and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates as its 2005 'Persons of the Year.' AFP PHOTO/FILES/Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
circa 1998: Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and his wife Melinda stand together, wearing formal attire, New York City. (Photo by Victor Malafronte/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 02: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and wife Melinda are on hand at a benefit for the charity For All Kids at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. , (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - DECEMBER 2: Business mogul Bill Gates and wife Melinda Gates donate $100 Million Dollar Check to the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health on December 2, 1998 at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
SEATTLE, UNITED STATES: Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates looks at his wife Melinda 16 September 1999 during a press conference in Seattle where they announced the Millennium Scholars Program that will provide financial assistance to high-achieving minority students who would otherwise be excluded from higher education. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation program will provide an annual investment of 50 million USD for 20 years. At any given point over 4,000 students per year will be Gates Foundation Millennium Scholars. AFP PHOTO Jeff CHRISTENSEN (Photo credit should read JEFF CHRISTENSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bill Gates, wife Melinda, & Herbie Handcock during Experience Music Project Opening Gala at Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
404302 04: Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates arrives at U.S. District Court with his wife Melinda April 22, 2002 in Washington, DC. Gates is taking the witness stand to give his first live testimony since the antitrust case was filed against the software giant in 1998. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
CALCUTTA, INDIA: Melinda Gates (2-L) of the Bill Gates Foundation addresses media representatives during a visit to an HIV-AIDS prevention project in Calcutta, 25 January 2004, as unidentified AIDS volunteer workers look on. Gates met with several of the city's sex workers in various red-light districts and pledged donations to further HIV-AIDS research in India. AFP PHOTO/Deshakalyan CHOWDHURY (Photo credit should read DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images)
CALCUTTA, INDIA: An unidentified Indian sex worker (R) garlands Melinda Gates (L) of the Bill Gates Foundation as she arrives to visit an HIV-AIDS prevention project in Calcutta, 25 January 2004. Gates met with several of the city's sex workers in various red-light districts and pledged donations to further HIV-AIDS research in India. AFP PHOTO/Deshakalyan CHOWDHURY (Photo credit should read DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON - MARCH 2: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS) HRH Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda pose for photographs after Gates is awarded an honorary knighthood at Buckingham Palace on March 2, 2005 in London, England. Mr Gates received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his outstanding contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the UK, and his contributions to poverty reduction . (Photo by Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)
Melinda French Gates (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/WireImage for RCS & Co.) *** Local Caption ***
Bill and Melinda Gates attend the swimming competition. (Photo by liewig christian/Corbis via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JUNE 07: Melinda Gates speaks during a luncheon during the 2010 Women Deliver Conference at The Walter E. Washington Convention Center on June 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MARIANNA BARRIAUX Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda Gates poses, on October 14, 2014 in Paris. omen are key to boosting economic growth in Africa and the developing world, Melinda Gates said Tuesday, as she stopped off in Paris to press crisis-hit France to keep funding projects for women and girls. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
SQUAWK BOX -- Pictured: Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, in an interview on May 5, 2015 -- (Photo by: Lacy O'Toole/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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The pledge included the signatures of 40 people from the United States when Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett launched it in 2010. As of April 2018, 175 individuals from 22 different countries have signed the pledge, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Signatories commit to giving away their fortunes during their lifetime or in their will, but they are not legally obligated to donate the pledged amounts.

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Mark Zuckerberg through the years
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Mark Zuckerberg through the years

Mark Zuckerberg creater of 'Facebook', photographed at Eliot House at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. on May 14, 2004. Facebook was created in February 2004, 3 months prior to this photograph.

(Photo by Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, participates in a discussion during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007.

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, attends the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference on January 27, 2009 in Munich, Germany. DLD brings together global leaders and creators from the digital world.

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images for Burda Media)

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, speaks on day three of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Jan. 30, 2009. This year's meeting, which is titled 'Shaping the Post-Crisis World,' runs until Feb. 1.

(Photo by Adam Berry/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., left, walks with Michael Ovitz, former president of Walt Disney Co., during a lunch break at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Friday, July 10, 2009. The conference runs until Saturday, July 11.

(Photo by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote address at the f8 Developer Conference April 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Zuckerberg kicked off the the one day conference for developers that features breakout sessions on the future of social technologies.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg (L) receives the award of Media person of the year from Philip Thomas (R), CEO Of Cannes Lions as part of the 57th International Advertising Festival held at the Palais des festivals on June 22, 2010 in Cannes, France.

(Photo by Francois G. Durand/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, holds a press conference at their headquarters in Palo Alto, California, May 26, 2010. Zuckerberg outlined Facebook's new privacy control methods.

(Photo by Kim White/Getty Images)

ABC News' Diane Sawyer goes inside Facebook headquarters with the man behind it all, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to show how the site has redefined the way a generation organizes and communicates, airing on WORLD NEWS WITH DIANE SAWYER and NIGHTLINE on July 21st as well as all ABC News platforms.

(Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images) 

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiles before speaking at a news conference at Facebook headquarters August 18, 2010 in Palo Alto, California. Zuckerberg announced the launch of Facebook Places, a new application that allows Facebook users to document places they have visited.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Tim Kendall, director of product marketing for Facebook Inc., from left, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., and Erick Tseng, head of mobile products for Facebook Inc., listen during a press conference at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Facebook, the world's biggest social-networking site, added features to its mobile software for Android devices, making it easier for users to share their locations and sort their friends by groups.

(Ryan Anson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (R) looks on during a town hall meeting April 20, 2011 at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., left, and Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, get ready to take questions from the audience during an event at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, U.S., on Friday, March 25, 2011. Facebook Inc., owner of the most popular social-networking site, drew investors including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in private stock sales that valued the company at $50 billion as of January.

(George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a town hall meeting April 20, 2011 at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook Inc., smiles during the closing session of the e-G8 Internet Forum in Paris, France, on Wednesday, May 25, 2011. The Internet needs government involvement to reach its full potential of linking people and boosting economic growth, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.

(Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Chief executive of French group Publicis, Maurice Levy (R) and Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg (L) attend the e-G8 press conference during the G8 Summit, on May 26, 2011 in Deauville, France. Heads of the world's wealthiest nations are meeting in Deauville, France, for the G8 summit to discuss various security, aid and trade issues, including the 'Arab Spring', nuclear safety and climate change.

(Photo by Edouard BERNAUX/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., attends the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Thursday, July 7, 2011. Media executives are gathering at Allen & Co.'s Sun Valley conference this week looking to shed assets such as the Hulu LLC video website and G4 game channel amid a declining global stock market and slowing economic growth.

(Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (L) watches a demonstration of the new Facebook video chat during a news conference at Facebook headquarters July 6, 2011 in Palo Alto, California. Zuckerberg announced new features that are coming to Facebook including video chat and a group chat feature.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., left, arrives to speak during a news conference at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 7, 2011. Zuckerberg said Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs advised him on how to sharpen his company's focus and build the right management team for the world's largest social network.

(Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (center) watches the game action between the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks on February 19, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

A woman watches Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking in a promotional video ahead of the company's IPO, in Washington on May 8, 2012. Facebook, already assured of becoming one of the most valuable US firms when it goes public later this month, now must convince investors in the next two weeks that it is worth all the hype. Top executives at the world's leading social network have kicked off their all-important road show on Wall Street -- an intense marketing drive ahead of the company's expected trading launch on the tech-heavy Nasdaq on May 18.

(MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GettyImages)

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shake hands as they meet at the Gorki residence outside Moscow, on October 1, 2012. Zuckerberg was today in Moscow on a visit the government believes should stimulate innovation in Russia and the social network hopes will boost its position in the Russian market.

(ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/GettyImages)

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., right, and Andrew 'Drew' Houston, founder and chief executive of Dropbox, sit in a parked car at the entrance to the Lodge during the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Thursday, July 12, 2012. Media moguls gathered at the annual Allen & Co. conference have spent recent years contemplating how to cope with technology companies drawing audiences away from television and movies.

(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during an event at Facebook headquarters on April 4, 2013 in Menlo Park, California. Zuckerberg announced a new product for Android called Facebook Home.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the 2013 TechCrunch Disrupt conference on September 11, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The TechCruch Disrupt Conference runs through September 11.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (R) arrives at the White House for an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama March 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama held the meeting with Internet CEOs to discuss 'issues of privacy, technology, and intelligence.'

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote conference as part of the first day of the Mobile World Congress 2014 at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 24, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. The annual Mobile World Congress hosts some of the world's largest communication companies, with many unveiling their latest phones and gadgets. The show runs from February 24 - February 27.

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Breakthrough Prize Founders Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg (R) attend the Breakthrough Prize Awards Ceremony Hosted By Seth MacFarlane at NASA Ames Research Center on November 9, 2014 in Mountain View, California.
(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

Mark Zuckerberg (L), founder and CEO of Facebook, makes a courtesy call to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) at the latter's official residence in Tokyo on October 20, 2014. Zuckerberg is here to attend a Facebook's business event for their partner companies on October 16 as a surprise guest.

(KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckenberg speaks to media after the meeting with Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo (not seen) in Jakarta, Indonesia on October 13, 2014. US-based social media Facebook founder Zuckerberg attended internet.org campaign during his visit to Indonesia, the fourth-largest number of Facebook users in the world.

(Photo by Jefri Tarigan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo (L) with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (R) at Tanah Abang Market the biggest textile market in South East Asia after meeting on October 13, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Mark Zukerberg is visiting Indonesia to attend Internet developers summit and meet heads of goverment. Indonesia is a country that has a population of 240 million and has approximately 60 million active users of social media. 

(Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)

Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg at IIT Delhi, on October 28, 2015 in New Delhi, India. Speaking to about 900 students at Indian Institute of Technology, Zuckerberg said broadening Internet access was vital to economic development in a country where a billion people are still not online.
(Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, left, and Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., embrace at the conclusion of a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. Prime Minister Modi plans on connecting 600,000 villages across India using fiber optic cable as part of his 'dream' to expand the world's largest democracy's economy to $20 trillion.

(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan sighted on February 26, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

(Photo by Chad Buchanan/GC Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Oculus Connect 3 event in San Jose, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Facebook Inc. is working on a new virtual reality product that is more advanced than its Samsung Gear VR, but doesn't require connection to a personal computer, like the Oculus Rift does.

(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (C) and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (L) pose as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (2nd R) makes a selfie picture with them, during a visit to the presidential palace in Abuja, on September 2, 2016. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on September 2 praised Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for inspiring young entrepreneurs during his surprise visit to the west African country this week, his office said. Zuckerberg who arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and has met with young entrepreneurs at information technology and computer centres in the country's commercial hub of Lagos and the capital Abuja.

(SUNDAY AGHAEZE/AFP/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2016 CEO Summit in Lima, Peru, on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. APEC aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the Asia-Pacific by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.

(Guillermo Gutierrez/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Actor Vin Diesel (L) and Breakthrough Prize Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg speak onstage during the 2017 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on December 4, 2016 in Mountain View, California.

(Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., reacts during a session at the Techonomy 2016 conference in Half Moon Bay, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. The annual conference, which brings together leaders in the technology industry, focuses on the centrality of technology to business and social progress and the urgency of embracing the rapid pace of change brought by technology.

(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the Alumni Exercises following the 366th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
CAMBRIDGE, MA - MAY 25: Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at the Alumni Exercises at Harvard's 366th commencement exercises on May 25, 2017 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Zuckerberg studied computer science at Harvard before leaving to move Facebook to Paolo Alto, CA. He returned to the campus this week to his former dorm room and live streamed his visit. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 14: Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., attends the fourth day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 14, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen on stage during a town hall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California September 27, 2015. Picture taken February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, delivers a keynote speech during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 22, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, addresses a gathering during the Internet.org Summit in New Delhi October 9, 2014. Facebook Inc, which closed its acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp on Monday, has no near-term plan to make money from the service, Zuckerberg said on Thursday. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS)
Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg smiles in the stage before delivering a keynote speech during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona February 24, 2014. Zuckerberg will take a victory lap at the world's largest mobile technology conference in Barcelona on Monday, after beating out Google Inc in a $19 billion acquisition of free messaging service WhatsApp. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sits for audience questions in an onstage interview for the Atlantic Magazine in Washington, September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TELECOMS)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks at the annual Allen and Co. conference at the Sun Valley, Idaho Resort July 11, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder and chief executive speaks during a Facebook press event in Menlo Park, California, April 4, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS)
Facebook CEO and chairman Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a session of the APEC CEO Summit, part of the broader Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima on November 19, 2016. Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski opened the summit of Asia-Pacific leaders on November 18 urging them to robustly defend free trade against protectionist trends in the United States and Europe. / AFP / Rodrigo BUENDIA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)
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In 2015, five years after joining the initiative, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced they would give away 99% of their Facebook shares during their lifetime. The shares were valued at $45 billion back then. Zuckerberg and Chan have focused their philanthropic efforts on childhood education and medical research.

Musk, who signed the pledge in 2012, refuses his $56,000 minimum salary from Tesla each year. He has donated billions toward science and engineering education, pediatric health, and renewable energy. 

Some philanthropists have expressed concerns about the pledge; The late hedge fund manager Robert Wilson said the pledge has a loophole that makes it "practically worthless," as donors are able to name their own foundations in their wills.

The Giving Pledge initiative has raised awareness among billionaires of the need to give back to society, the Wealth-X report claims.

Education was the top philanthropic cause among billionaires in 2017, with about 62% of billionaires donating at least part of their fortunes to higher education funding, scholarships and more. The Wealth-X report said about 21% of total billionaire donations went toward education.

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