It was, perhaps, philanthropy’s biggest news of the year: 40 of America’s wealthiest families announced in August that they were joining Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in pledging to give at least half their money away.
Now, however, a debate is stirring about how successful the Giving Pledge has really been. The pledge hasn’t “visibly inspired” any new big gifts or attracted additional signatures since August, writes reporter Stephanie Strom in Wednesday’s New York Times. Mr. Buffett, however, says he expects others to sign on soon.
Ellen Remmer, president of the Philanthropic Initiative, writes on her organization’s blog that the Giving Pledge appears to be “stuttering a bit.” That’s largely due to the economic crisis, she says.
“Billionaires may not want the world to know they are billionaires,” she argues. “And the world at large may not like being reminded that these folks still have billions while they are losing their houses.”
Ms. Remmer says the pledge may also be having trouble gaining traction because its impact is so difficult to assess. The real test, she says, is how—and whether—the money helps people and organizations. She nevertheless calls it a “huge step forward in getting people to pay attention to philanthropy.”
The New York Times story says the pledge has inspired mixed emotions. The billionaire fund-raising drive serves as a reminder of the vast wealth of a few Americans and of the influence their money can buy, the article says.
Meanwhile, some of the pledge signatories may choose to donate their money in ways that not everyone considers beneficial to society, the article says.
Do you think the Giving Pledge has been successful?