The Giving Pledge, a worldwide, multigenerational organization revealed on Tuesday that 14 new participants had joined since last December. Founders Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and Warren Buffett formed the Giving Pledge 11 years ago.
This new wave, which includes some of the planet's wealthiest people and families, takes the total count of members to 231 from 28 nations. They pledged to give a large part of their riches to charity, either in their lifetimes or in their wills.
Helaine and Jon Ayers are among the newest members of the group. Jon Ayers' 17-year stint as chairman and Chief executive of Idexx Laboratories came to an end after a horrific bicycle accident in 2019 left him paralyzed. This year, he was chosen chairman of Panthera, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of feral cats worldwide.
Ayers noted in the letter about signing up for the Giving Pledge that capital distribution is rapidly replacing capital accumulation, for the benefit of the planet. It was a "natural outgrowth of our new direction and emphasis," according to him.
“I adore cats. I adore nature. And I'm not just talking about lions and tigers. 40 kinds of wild cats exist, and if we don't work to preserve them, they'll disappear. It's time to conserve biodiversity, and cats are on the top of the food chain,” he says.
“It's exciting to be a part of this community because, like anything else, being good at charity is difficult. There is still much to learn”, Ayers notes.
Other newcomers to the group in the United States involve media mogul Ric Elias and his wife, Brenda Elias; digital marketing visionary Jeff T. Green; payment processing entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and his wife, Monica Isaacman; biopharmaceutical entrepreneur Jack Schuler and his wife, Renate Schuler; social networking pioneer Ben Silbermann and his wife, Divya Silbermann; banker Byron Trott and his wife, Tina Trott; and Patti Bao and founder of a tech company corp Tony Xu.
A number of members from outside the US also joined the Giving Pledge, featuring Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, South Korean food-tech entrepreneurs Bongjin Kim and Bomi Sul, and Miseon Hyeong and IT billionaire Beom-su Kim. Design software founders Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht of Australia, software entrepreneur Steven Schuurman of the Netherlands, as well digital bankers David Vélez and Mariel Reyes of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru are also among the new members.
As in previous years, most new Giving Pledge participants are already extensively involved in giving. Poverty reduction, global warming, education, medical, disaster assistance, equal gender rights, social justice, and nature conservation are among the causes they support.
Known for founding tech and media companies including SpringSource and Elastic, as well as the Hollywood-based Atlantis Entertainment, Steven Schuurman is an advocate for environmental preservation.
“I believe giving back carries a lot of responsibility, which is why I consult the scientific community for advice on how to go about it. The cause areas I decide to support should not be chosen based on how they make me feel; they should be determined by how they maximize my positive impact”, he stated in a Giving Pledge letter.
Schuurman also added that giving back is a logical move if you have more than you need.
Ric and Brenda Elias have the same viewpoint. Ric Elias, who is originally from Puerto Rico, attended Boston College and Harvard Business School before co-founding Red Ventures in 2020, while Brenda Elias is involved in the Charlotte, N.C., community.
They have collaborated to promote economic mobility for disadvantaged young people. A recent donation of $5 million was made to Johnson C. Smith University to help more people of color succeed.
“We know that by entering the Giving Pledge group, we will be able to learn from others and achieve more skills in the aspects of giving that we have yet to discover. Despite the fact that we are deeply private individuals, we felt it was time to entrust our commitment to descendants yet to come to the public eye. Our objective is straightforward: lead with giving”, they stated in their letter.
That approach was echoed by Bill Gates in his message. “I've always thought that if you have the opportunity to assist someone, you should do it”, he commented. “It's wonderful to greet newcomers to the Giving Pledge community as we keep learning from one another and discover new methods to enhance the beneficial effect of our giving.”
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