Gates & Buffet: Influencing Generosity

Not content with influencing 40 wealthy Americans to give ½ their wealth to charity, on Friday, August 6, 2010, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet announced that they would approach wealthy people in China in India to follow suit.

While the US has 403 billionaires, China and India are gaining ground in this area.  Gates and Buffet want the wealthy in these countries to pledge to give ½ of their fortunes either during their life or at death.

What makes the pitch of Gates and Buffet so compelling?  First and foremost, they’ve drunk the proverbial kool-aid.  Gates has given more than $28 billion to his foundation and Buffet will have all the stock in his company go to foundations as well.  Because of this platform, they’ve been able to influence other wealthy Americans to take the pledge.

Certainly, standing on their own Gates and Buffet have made huge gifts to charity that will have an impact.  But equally important, they are using their influence to create even more significant gifts to charity.

There are two points worth noting.  First, Gates and Buffet do not suggest what charities should receive dollars from these pledges.  From their past track record, the charities will likely be good humanitarian organizations, but by no means will those that reflect those values that built our country:  faith, freedom and family.

Second, the influence that Gates and Buffet wield is considerable.  The question, however, is who will wield this kind of influence in the Christian community.  Think of it.  What would happen if strong Christian voices, who have lived out the same pledge as Buffet and Gates, would make a similar call for wealthy Christians to give ½ their wealth to advance God’s Kingdom?

And therein lies the difference.  The giving and influence utilized by Buffet and Gates is admirable.  But how much more admirable might it become if God’s Kingdom purposes could be advanced through that generosity.

William High is the President/General Counsel of the Servant Foundation (www.servantchristian.com).  Servant’s mission is to inspire, teach and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity.  He may be reached at whigh@servantchristian.com.

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One Response to “Gates & Buffet: Influencing Generosity”

  1. Eric Foley Says:

    Interesting article, here, William. I actually think that Gates and Buffet using their influence is a far more substantial contribution than whether they give away half of their wealth. Even if you think about it from a purely monetary standpoint, the two of them giving away half of their wealth isn’t nearly as much as the amount from the other 38 who will be giving away their money.

    And that’s how I think many non-profits today stand to benefit, in an indirect way, from Gates’ and Buffet’s actions: by encouraging their donors, the champions of their cause, to spread that cause to their friends and family just as Gates and Buffet did.

    Even more, I don’t know that God is waiting on a few wealthy Christians to do the same as much as he is waiting on Christians in general (regardless of their economic status) to become comprehensively involved in the work God is doing (in other words, involved with their whole lives and not just their wallets) and inviting others to do the same. It seems to me that’s how God’s kingdom spread so fast in the first place.


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