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Published in: Society 2/2021

25-05-2021 | Social Science and Public Policy

Billionaires in Global Philanthropy: a Decade of the Giving Pledge

Authors: Hans Peter Schmitz, Elena M. McCollim

Published in: Society | Issue 2/2021

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Abstract

Billionaire philanthropists claim to play a key role in advancing well-being and public goods across the world. One of the most prominent recent expressions of these efforts is the Giving Pledge, created in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates in collaboration with Warren Buffett. After a decade of its existence, this analysis of the Giving Pledge population and its commitment letters shows an overall dominance of white, male, and US-based billionaires among the signatories. Tech billionaires are a wealthier and younger subgroup of pledgers than their counterparts in other industries. The pledge letters reveal an emphasis on education and health as dominant philanthropic causes. Among explanations for giving, the four most frequent reasons mentioned are a desire to make a difference, a wish to give back, a sense of personal fulfillment resulting from giving, and references to being socialized into philanthropic giving early in life. While the Giving Pledge is the most prominent global effort to increase philanthropic giving among the wealthy, the voluntary nature and relatively modest commitment goal make it difficult to assess its significance and impact.
Footnotes
1
There are no generally agreed-upon time demarcations for Generations X and Y. The term “Millennial” is frequently used in the popular press to refer to those born from the 1980s until the early 2000s “Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts,” The Atlantic, updated March 25, 2014, https://​www.​theatlantic.​com/​national/​archive/​2014/​03/​here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/​359589/​.
 
2
Data of wealth assets at the time of pledge were available for 56 out 103 “brick and mortar” signatories, 36 of 63 finance signatories, and 34 of 54 tech signatories.
 
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Metadata
Title
Billionaires in Global Philanthropy: a Decade of the Giving Pledge
Authors
Hans Peter Schmitz
Elena M. McCollim
Publication date
25-05-2021
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Society / Issue 2/2021
Print ISSN: 0147-2011
Electronic ISSN: 1936-4725
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-021-00580-0

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