Bill Gates, left, and Warren Buffett, seen in this 2007 photo during the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, are trying to persuade other American billionaires to give at least half their wealth to charity.
More than three dozen of America's wealthiest individuals and families have joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in agreeing to give away at least half their fortunes to charity.
The announcement was made Wednesday by The Giving Pledge, an effort officially launched by Gates and Buffett earlier this year to persuade the richest people in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice, either during their lifetime or after their death.
In addition to Buffett and Gates — America's two wealthiest individuals, with a combined net worth of $90 billion, according to Forbes — 38 other billionaires are taking the give-it-away pledge. They include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, film director George Lucas and investor Ronald Perelman.
"We’ve really just started, but already we’ve had a terrific response,” Buffett, co-founder and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in a statement. “At its core, the Giving Pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used.
"We’re delighted that so many people are doing just that – and that so many have decided to not only take this pledge but also to commit to sums far greater than the 50 percent minimum level.”