- Melinda Gates — the head of the largest charitable foundation in the world — recently told the story about how The Giving Pledge came together. Here are the details.
Melinda Gates is the head of the largest charitable foundation in the world through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with $50 billion in assets. This foundation was created through the wealth attained from Microsoft and then Warren Buffett called the Bill and Melinda Gates to tell them he wants to give away his wealth to their foundation as well.
Warren Buffett’s first wife Susan Buffett was heavily involved with philanthropy and their plan was to give away their wealth through the foundation that they created as a couple. But Susan Buffett passed away unexpectedly in 2004.
So Warren Buffett surprised Bill and Melinda about the vast majority of his wealth would go through their foundation along with the three foundations that his children have and the Susan T. Buffett Foundation.
So what happened after Bill and Melinda Gates received the donation from Buffett?
“I can honestly tell you that Bill and I took a walk after that discussion and we were alone. And we both cried. I think we cried… both us because to know Warren’s generosity and that we would be able to do even so much more than we were already doing for people around the world… it was just an unbelievably touching moment and touching moment of friendship,” said Melinda Gates in an interview on Bloomberg’s David Rubenstein Show earlier this month.
This friendship turned led to another major project between Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett — which is The Giving Pledge. Melinda Gates said that The Giving Pledge was Warren Buffet’s “big idea.”
“The Giving Pledge was to say if you have great wealth… if you’re a billionaire in our country or anywhere in the world, you can afford to give half away and that is the right thing for society. Bill and Warren are really clear that they could not have founded their businesses if it had been in, say in Malawi or Mozambique, and so we benefit from what society gives us… the infrastructure… and so those resources… at least half… should go back to society,” Melinda Gates explained on David Rubenstein Show. “We now have 190 families who have committed to The Giving Pledge in 22 different countries around the world.”
Rubenstein — who is the co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group — had also signed The Giving Pledge. According to Forbes, Rubenstein has a net worth of $3.4 billion. Here is the video of Rubenstein interviewing Melinda Gates: