What could come of dozens of the nation’s richest people getting together? The options are limitless.
Bill&Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, longtime billionaires and philanthropists, have teamed up to create a network of America’s richest people, reaching out to the Forbes 400 in order to ask for donations. However, this campaign, now known as The Giving Pledge, goes further than any have in the past, asking donors to promise 50% of their net worth to charity. Billionaires who have publicly agreed to the pledge include: NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Oprah Winfrey, David Rockefeller, George Lucas, and more. Some of the participants have already promised to give even more, such as Buffet, who pledged to give 99% of his wealth to chaitable donations.
Although the Gateses and Buffet have been arranging meetings with some of the richest billionaires in the nation for the past year, they kept the dealings top-secret until recently, and little was gleaned by the press as to what these powerful people were planning. In June of this year, Fortune Magazine printed a comprehensive story detailing the Pledge for the first time, and estimating its potential. (http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2010/06/16/gates-buffett-600-billion-dollar-philanthropy-challenge/ )
At its most recent count, the Pledge had signed on 30 billionaires. If it were to reach its goal of obtaining half the networth of the 400 richest people on Forbes List, it would mean $600 billion going towards charity. To give some perspective, people in the U.S. gave an estimated $307.65 billion to charity in 2008, and is usually the leading country in charity donations.
Reading about this ambitious, admirable cause left me with two questions: first, no statement has been made about what charities the money will go towards, but which causes do you think are the most deserving, the most in need of this money?
Second, how can we create an environment of selfless giving amongst our own community? By no means am I claiming that Brandeisians are akin to billionaires, and what with the recession charitable donations have become a lot more difficult for people to make, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be massive efforts to fundraise.
Already this past school year the student body voted overwhelmingly in favor of passing the Brandeis Sustainability Fund (http://innermostparts.org/2010/04/27/win/) electing to pay an extra fee of $7.50 per semester in order to take steps towards ‘greening’ our campus. Another great successes was the Haiti Relief Effort (http://www.brandeis.edu/haiti/ ) which raised over $30,000. So, what steps should we take towards more effective fundraising next?