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Gates & Buffett: 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 Buffett 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 Buffett 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 Buffett so compelling?  First and foremost, they’ve drunk the proverbial kool-aid.  Gates has given more than $28 billion to his foundation and Buffett 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 Buffett 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 Buffett 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 Buffett 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 Buffett 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 Buffett 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 (  Servant’s mission is to inspire, teach and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity.  He may be reached at

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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