News and analysis
February 19, 2013

Giving Pledge Adds 12 Families From Overseas

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett’s appeal for greater generosity among rich people has expanded globally, with 12 families from outside the United States announcing today that they would commit to giving away at least half their wealth.

Since unveiling their Giving Pledge in 2010, the billionaire trio has been hopscotching continents to convert more of the world’s wealthy to philanthropy. Their new recruits include families from Australia, Germany, India, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

“There is only so much money that a person needs for himself and his family, and this brings home the sense that when one is blessed with great wealth beyond what is needed, there is a corresponding moral and social responsibility to put the money to good use,” Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, founder of the Better Malaysia Foundation and a new signatory, said in a statement.

Other new members from non-Western nations include Patrice and Precious Motsepe, of South Africa, and Azim Premji, of India.

The British signatories were Richard and Joan Branson and the Sudanese-born Mo Ibrahim, along with John Caudwell, Chris and Jamie Cooper-Hohn, and David Sainsbury. Andrew and Nicola Forrest of Australia also joined the pledge, along with Hasso Plattner, of Germany, Vladimir Potanin, of Russia, and Victor Pinchuk, of Ukraine.

Speaking last week at an event at New York University, David Rubenstein, an American billionaire and a member of the Giving Pledge since 2010, said spreading the pledge overseas has proven a challenge, in part because few other countries have an estate tax like the United States.

“In our country, we don’t have quite that tradition of people holding onto their money for generations,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “It has been tougher than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett initially thought.”

With the new members announced today, the Giving Pledge now totals 105 families.