America

Forty Of U.S.' Richest Vow To Donate Most Of Wealth

Warren Buffett, Bill Gates

hide captionBill Gates, left, and Warren Buffett have been pleasantly surprised by how ready some of their fellow billionaires have been to vow to give most of their fortunes away.   

Nati Harnik/AP

For months, billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have held dinners for some of the nation's wealthiest people and families to get them to pledge to eventually give away most of their fortunes to charity. On Wednesday they announced forty of the nation's richest people have signed on.

Gates and Buffett provided the names of those in what they hope will be the first of the superwealthy to agree to what they're calling the Giving Pledge.

Their list includes Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle; George Lucas of Star Wars fame and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

An excerpt from Gates and Buffett's news release:

“We’ve really just started, but already we’ve had a terrific response,” said Warren Buffett, pledge co-founder and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. “At its core, the Giving Pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used. We’re delighted that so many people are doing just that – and that so many have decided to not only take this pledge but also to commit to sums far greater than the 50% minimum level.”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that Gates and Buffett said during a conference call that they were surprised by how responsive so many of their fellow billionaires have been.

Worth noting is that some of those they reached to weren't so helpful. An excerpt from the chronicle:

Asked why some wealthy people have turned him down, Mr. Buffett cited a mix of reasons. Some people spouted off about how they don’t like government, some gave him a lecture, some said they felt a responsibility to pass wealth along to their children, and others simply had a plane to catch, said Mr. Buffett.

“We don’t give up on them,” he said. “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”

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