Continue Reading Below
The $2.9 billion donation, in the form of Berkshire shares, went to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, The Sherwood Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation and NoVo Foundation. Buffett says he intends to give away all of the Berkshire shares he owns within 12 years after his death.
The Berkshire Hathaway CEO created the Giving Pledge in 2010 with Bill and Melinda Gates to encourage other billionaires to give away a majority of their wealth.
In the last decade, more than 200 of the world’s wealthiest people in 23 different countries have signed onto the pledge. Other notable billionaires who have signed on are Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, investor Bill Ackman, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Mackenzie Bezos, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
There are currently 2,095 billionaires in the world, according to Forbes, so about 10 percent of them have signed onto the Giving Pledge. There are 614 billionaires in America.
Despite the pledge to give away at least 50 percent of their net worth, many billionaires have seen their fortunes grow at an astonishing rate in the last decade. An analysis of Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires List found that the world's 10 wealthiest people added more than half a trillion dollars to their collective wealth since 2010.
Gates has given away nearly $50 billion dating back to the 90s, but his wealth has still doubled since 2010 when he originally made the Giving Pledge. He was worth $53 billion in 2010, and now has a net worth of $111 billion.
Buffett also hasn’t seen his wealth slip much since the Giving Pledge started. He has donated $37 billion since 2006, but he’s still the eighth richest person in the world with a net worth of $69 billion.
This comes amid a widening wealth gap that has angered many lawmakers and activists. According to the Census Bureau, the gap between the rich and the poor was the highest it’s been in more than 50 years in 2019.
Former democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, pushed for “wealth taxes” during their campaigns for president. Sanders’ wealth tax proposal would have topped out at 8 percent, while Warren’s topped out at 3 percent.