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Charity, the billionaires’ way

Charity, the billionaires’ way

George Soros, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg have pledged much of their assets to helping others.

Billionaire investor George Soros (87) became in October one of the newest members of a very exclusive club, one that includes fellow super-rich people such as tech mogul Bill Gates and social media guru Mark Zuckerberg: the one of people who have donated most of their considerable net worth to charity.

Giving Pledge is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back.

In mid-October, Soros –famous for his bets against the overvalued British pound in 1992- donated US$18 billion of his around US$25 billion net worth to the Open Society Foundations he founded on 1979 to promote democracy and open government across the world, according to media reports.

The foundations, originally meant to help countries emerging from communism develop participative governments, have received around US$14 billion from Soros since their creation. If confirmed, the Soros donation could make Open Society the largest US’ grant-making group after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, endowed with around US$40 billion.

In a world where the 62 richest people have a combined fortune roughly equal to that of half of the planet, according to Oxfam, those donations might be in more need than ever and several billionaires have pledged much of their assets to helping others.

US investing guru Warren Buffet (87), helped spur the movement by pledging in 2006 to donate 99% of his very large fortune –he is currently worth around US$76 billion.

On the Giving Pledge website he is quoted as saying: “were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks (Berkshire Hathaway stock certificates) on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others.”

Microsoft’s Gates and his wife Melinda’s foundation works mostly on health and development projects around the world, including polio immunization and HIV/AIDS prevention, while Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest of the world top 10 billionaires at 33 years old, pledged 99% of his Facebook shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative created to promote internet access, education and health projects.