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About the Author

Helena Goldon
NGO Consultant, Programmes Department/Journalist (POLAND) A change agent. Main focus: people. Writes based on her experience as a freelance correspondent for the Polish Radio - from Uganda, Zambia, Lebanon, and Malawi and project work in the field. Worked also as Assistant Producer for Save the Children on a documentary on rehabilitation of children abductees to Joseph Kony's rebel group and coordinated projects co-financed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Board member of Development Cooperation Centre.


Inspiration starts somewhere

Published 04th August 2010 - 10 comments - 11105 views -

I remember an advert from 2007 of yet another Microsoft’s product - the Microsoft's Beginner Developer Learning Center. It used the face of the company to advertise the product in a very smart way – young Bill Gates, with that nerdy look, in a brilliant campaign with a slogan: “Inspiration starts somewhere”.

This was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw today’s news: Buffet with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation talking other billionaires into giving half of their wealth to charity.

The second thought was Johan’s post about the Eight Un-development Goals and his Economic Equality GoalDefinitely, Johan - I thought, a clear sign we are moving somewhere.

The project called "the Giving Pledge" is not a "legal contract" but a "moral commitment" (after: made by the billionaires involved to give away at least half of their wealth either during their lifetimes or after their deaths to a charity of their choice.

Whereas 50% is the minimum contribution, some families have already committed to sums far greater than that. The donors are able to decide the aim towards which their contribution is going and write it in a letter: "I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education. It is the key to the survival of the human race," film producer George Lucas stated in his Giving Pledge letter.

Apart from Mr. Lucas, involved are over 40 richest men in the whole wide world : the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the CNN founder Ted Turner, the entertainment executive Barry Diller, philanthropist David Rockefeller and oil investor T Boone Pickens, to name just a few - and many more are interested in joining the pledge.

Well, with the 403 billionaires currently living in the US (Forbes) there is still a way to go, but the money involved so far is gargantuan – according to today’s Forbes estimates the total pledged through the Giving Pledge comes to at least $120 billion to charity so far – an amount the whole working Poland (16.9 million people) would need to work for… 7 months.

The act sounds praiseworthy and its impact is still hard for me to imagine, especially when we think of the aftershocks of today’s global economy that are about to hit the developing world and standing up to meet the 8 MDG's.

However, with such big money involved, we, the simple people, the ordinary mortars, would now request you, the billionaires, for just one more pledge: please, BE TRANSPARENT.

Credits: Giving Pledge, BBC, Microsoft, Forbes

Category: Aid | Tags: charity, billionaires, buffet, gates,


  • Johan Knols on 04th August 2010:

    Hello Helena,

    I too saw this amazing news today. And I have to admit it is remarkable (to say the least). I just hope two things:
    1. That this move is not made because of tax advantage schemes and 2. that as you rightly say, everything is going to be transparent.

    The enormous amounts of money destined for Haiti are still not accounted for. Nor is all the money meant for the tsunami victims in Asia.

    But, the beginning is there and if these guys are sincere, maybe they themselves should coordinate where and how the money is spend.
    ( I am honored that you remembered my post and link it to this topic)

  • Helena Goldon on 04th August 2010:

    Hello Johan,
    Have to admit I didn’t at first consider there MIGHT (not necessarily) tax advantage schemes as a reason for such move. You are right to say the beginning is there - I would be very afraid however to th!nk on how can you potentially even coordinate the expenditure of such huge amounts of money?
    And as to the link - well, you are welcome - it sincerely spontaneously reminded me of your remarkable post.

  • Clare Herbert on 05th August 2010:

    I love that pic. Every dreamer should have it stuck to their wall as a reminder that dreams are possible. He’s a lovable dork in that pic.

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 05th August 2010:

    I still think it is the responsibility of people just to learn how to control money which are spend on charity or aid… but we are too lazy. I think that the responsibility starts from the point of decision - I want to give money, so I am responsible who I will give them and for what. The story with the Giving Pledge is, for me the prove that something must have broken down in being rich… maybe it started to be boring… but still it’s everything about power - so are rich and have power, so are poor and are dependent…

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 05th August 2010:

    This is a great initiative, if it works, and I really hope it does. But let’s see how many actually give their wealth for good causes when they are still alive, and what is done with it.

    I don’t think I trust these rich people too much.

  • Hieke van der Vaart on 06th August 2010:

    Good news grin

  • Hieke van der Vaart on 06th August 2010:

    If you want to know why Oprah is absent on Bill’s list check

  • Aija Vanaga on 07th August 2010:

    The only thing is - we will see where i will go and develop further!

  • Helena Goldon on 09th August 2010:

    @ Clare - isn’t he? you’re right - it’s a pic that inspires; may put it on my desktop wink
    @ Giedre - look at Hieke’s link down below. I mean - Oprah’s behaviour is so strange, isn’t it?
    @ Hieke - I am not suprised about Oprah. Love a hilarious initiative by the Internet community here:
    @Aija and Radka - definitely, time will tell.

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