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More billionaires take Buffett's pledge to give it away

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates say they’ve gotten pledges from 38 other super-rich Americans to give most of their wealth away to charity or other philanthropic causes during their lifetimes or at their death.

In an announcement Wednesday, Buffett said the campaign he and Gates began -- the Giving Pledge -- now includes commitments from billionaires including Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., Domino’s Pizza Founder Tom Monaghan and Hilton Hotels’ Barron Hilton.

The full list is at givingpledge.org.

Buffettwar “We’ve really just started, but already we’ve had a terrific response,” Buffett said in a statement.

The campaign, launched in June, asks wealthy individuals and families to formally pledge more than 50% of their money to philanthropic causes or charity, presumably rather than leaving it in the family. It’s a moral commitment, not a legal one.

The plan took root after a May 2009 meeting Buffett and Gates set up for a small group of the super-rich, including Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, George Soros and Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad.

Of course, many of the wealthiest people who’ve joined the campaign may already have expected to give away most of their money. But Buffett said on a conference call Wednesday that “at least a couple” of the new pledge signers had changed their previous plans and increased their anticipated giving to 50% or more. He said he planned to keep reaching out to other U.S. billionaires, and to the super-rich in China and India as well.

Of the 40 people or families who've pledged so far, 14 are from California. They include Ellison, Hilton and Broad, along with George Lucas, Abraxis BioScience CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong and Silicon Valley financier John Doerr.

GivingPledge says the commitments “do not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations.”

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Warren Buffett. Credit: Mike Segar / Reuters

 
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