Twelve non-US donors sign Giving Pledge
Since February, the Gates Foundation has been encouraging non-US citizens to sign the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give away the majority of a person’s wealth. So far, twelve have signed including some British citizens, notably Lord Ashcroft, Lord Sainsbury and Sir Richard Branson. The Giving Pledge specifically focuses on billionaires.
Michael Ashcroft says: “I take enormous pleasure from giving something back to society and to making a positive difference to other people’s lives. I feel honoured to put my name to the Giving Pledge and to sharing such a worthwhile commitment with like-minded people.” He plans to leave the majority of his assets to a charitable foundation in his name. He supports areas such as fighting crime, supporting education and championing the military. As an entrepreneur, he favours what he calls a “hands-on approach to philanthropy, driving a charitable project forward in the same way that I would seek to progress with a business”.
Since the Gates Foundation opened up to non-US citizens, the Institute for Philanthropy has conducted research among 22 wealthy donors. It found that the donors give away an annual average of $2,168,050 and that their foundations have an average endowment of $79,081,250. The top three areas of concern are education, children and youth and community regeneration.
David Sainsbury focuses on plant science and neuroscience, which he believes will bring many benefits in terms of food security. He also invests in agricultural development in Africa, scientific and engineering education, the Institute for Government and the Centre for Cities as well as the arts. He says: “We do not believe that spending any more money on ourselves or our family would add anything to our happiness. However, using it to support social progress we have found deeply fulfilling.” Most of his wealth is being transferred to charitable trusts.
Richard Branson adds: “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.”