Speaking in Dublin last week, Chuck Feeney, one of the world’s major philanthropists, has told Irish journalist Conor O’Cleary that he has some reservations about The Giving Pledge, the effort by Warren Buffett together with Bill and Melinda Gates to persuade wealthy Americans to commit at least half their fortunes to charity.
“I support it, but it doesn’t go far enough,” Mr Feeney said in an .
Feeney, who made his money from duty-free and who is the leading philanthropist in Ireland, is unique among donors in that he has already committed all his wealth to the Atlantic Philanthropies foundation.
“Giving While Living makes it clear, The Giving Pledge doesn’t,” Mr Feeney said.
Mr Feeney said that last year be had attended the first gathering in New York initiated by the Gates and Buffet to elicit discussion among a small group of philanthropists about how to encourage greater giving among those with huge wealth. Although he was invited to participate in The Giving Pledge at its public roll-out, he declined. He said that he didn’t feel he need to join formally, since he had already donated his entire fortune. “Nevertheless I support the initiative”, he said, “with which some 35 wealthy individuals and couples are now associated, and I remain open-minded as to how I might contribute to its further development and the ensuing process.”
He is not convinced that the Giving Pledge will translate easily into “productive philanthropy”, not least because of the issues of spouses and family members objecting to “the signing away of half the family silver by well-meaning people of wealth”. He added that he suspects little is actually happening since the wealthy individuals made their public pledges.
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