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Collins asks why billionaires aren’t giving more

August 4, 2020

Post Carbon Fellow Chuck Collins’ op-ed, published in The Guardian, asks why ever more wealthy billionaires aren’t giving more to charity?

From the article:

A decade ago, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett did an important thing. They organized the Giving Pledge to inspire their fellow billionaires to donate more money to charity.

On 4 August 2010, the first group of billionaires announced their intention to give away over half their wealth to charity. Over the last decade, they’ve been joined by many more.

A decade later, however, two obvious problems have emerged.

First, billionaire wealth has expanded at a phenomenal rate. Of the 62 living Pledgers who were billionaires in 2010, their personal wealth has increased by 95%, from $376bn to $734bn in 2020 dollars.

They’d pledged to give away half. Instead, their wealth has nearly doubled…

Many have stepped up to give during the pandemic. But their giving is not keeping pace with their exploding wealth.

This leads to the second problem: in all likelihood, most of what they give away won’t go to on-the-ground charities, but to private family foundations often controlled by wealthy heirs and their advisers. Instead of supporting charities on the frontlines of problem solving, these billions end up sitting in tax-advantaged intermediaries..