Call it the most expensive form of peer pressure ever.
MSNBC reports 38 American billionaires joined The Giving Pledge, an effort established by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to convince the wealthy to donate at least half of their money to charity. Famous names on the list include Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas and Ted Turner. Of course Gates and Buffett are donating the vast majority of their fortunes as well.
According to The Giving Pledge site, the goal is “to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.”
The pledge that each of these billionaires have taken is not legally binding however, but is instead “a moral commitment.”
Not surprisingly, this announcement has generated praise from the rest of the country.
“I salute these people. They have made it big, not just through skill but through luck and returning that, plowing that back, is exactly how it should be,” said Jim Cramer, who runs Action Alerts Plus, a charitable trust is the co-founder and chairman of TheStreet.com.
Each billionaire offered a unique reason for joining the effort. Ted Turner, a media mogul, explained that his father taught him to be charitable starting at a very young age and this stayed with him ever since. Similarly, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, noted he long felt compelled to give away his money to help do good.
“For decades, I've been committed to giving away the vast majority of my wealth to causes that I'm passionate about - and that my children are passionate about,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “As I wrote in my autobiography… the reality of great wealth is that you can't spend it and you can't take it with you.”