News and analysis
May 06, 2011

'Giving Pledge’ Signers Gather for First In-Person Meeting

The first annual gathering of people who have committed to the Giving Pledge met last night and today at the Miraval Resort, a Tucson resort owned by one of the signers—Steve Case, a philanthropist and a co-founder of America Online, and his wife, Jean.

The Giving Pledge is an effort by the philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to exact a formal commitment from the nation's richest Americans to give at least half of their wealth to charity.

Patty Stonesifer, the former head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who has been advising the Giving Pledge effort, told The Chronicle that the purpose of the gathering was to provide a chance for the signers of the pledge —now numbering some 69 couples or individuals— to meet each other and learn from each other’s experiences with charitable giving.

“I haven’t met anyone here who knows more than a third of the people who’ve signed the pledge,” she said, adding that the gathering was not meant as a recruiting tool to attract more signers.

The gathering kicked off Thursday night with a dinner discussion centered on what the philanthropists who have signed the Giving Pledge hope to achieve through their donations.

Today’s events consisted of a series of talks about measuring the results of one’s giving, how to get one’s children involved in philanthropy, as well as a broader discussion about what the signers want the Giving Pledge project to be in five to 10 years.

Ultimately, said Ms. Stonesifer, today’s and last night’s discussion gave the signers of the Giving Pledge a chance to connect, talk openly about their giving experiences, and she hopes, learn from one another.

“Many of them didn’t know each other before this,” she said, “and there’s a lot to learn by increasing those bonds.”

From the archives: See all of The Chronicle's coverage of the Giving Pledge.