Factbox: Billionaires explain their charity pledge

Wed Aug 4, 2010 12:34pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A total of 40 U.S. billionaires have pledged to give away at least 50 percent of their wealth as part of a campaign by investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Gates and Buffett launched "The Giving Pledge" in June to convince hundreds of U.S. billionaires to give away most of their fortune during their lifetimes or after their deaths and to publicly state their intention with a letter of explanation.

Here are some excerpts from letters written by billionaires taking the pledge:

* Laura and John Arnold, hedge fund manager: "We view our wealth in this light -- not as an end in itself, but as an instrument to effect positive and transformative change."

* New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "If you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing -- by far -- is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children. And by giving, we inspire others to give of themselves, whether their money or their time."

* Philanthropist Eli and Edythe Broad: "Those who have been blessed with extraordinary wealth have an opportunity, some would say a responsibility -- we consider it a privilege -- to give back to their communities, be they local, national or global."

* Investor Warren Buffett: "Were we to use more than one percent of my claim checks (Berkshire Hathaway stock certificates) on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99 percent can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others."

* Microsoft founder Bill and Melinda Gates: "We have been blessed with good fortune beyond our wildest expectations, and we are profoundly grateful. But just as these gifts are great, so we feel a great responsibility to use them well. That is why we are so pleased to join in making an explicit commitment to the Giving Pledge."

* Hotel magnate Barron Hilton: "It is my hope that others are inspired by my father's story, and by our family's steadfast adherence to his charitable philosophy."   Continued...