CORPORATE CHARITY DONATIONS: THE TREND OF GIVING – Many years ago Bill Gates, Founder and then CEO of Microsoft, decided that his vast wealth was simply too much for any one person to have.
In response to his thought Bill decided to start looking at ways in which he could give his money away to charities and organisations that would benefit from such donations. In order to manage the charitable donations Bill and his wife Malinda Gates, set up the Bill & Melinda Foundation, which is now responsible for distributing over US$28 Billion and it doesn’t stop there.
What is remarkable is that Bill also decided to enlist other high net worth individuals, such as Warren Buffet, and persuade them to give up vast sums of their overall net worth. So intrigued by the idea Warren Buffet decided to contribute to the idea of giving his money away and since that decision was made Warren Buffet has given over US$17 Billion. So here we have two very remarkable men.
Both Bill and Warren are extremely astute in their perspective fields of work. What is, for me at least, truly remarkable is that both Bill and Warren fully realise that their money can achieve so much to improve the lives of others far less fortunate and while these are vast sums of money it doesn’t expose their position of wealth – that is they will never be short of cash for whatever their pursuits in life may be.
The cynics out there will always tell you that the art of charitable donations, for any high net worth individual or corporation, is in fact a very clever way to reduce personal and corporate tax. This is of course very true but both Bill and Warren give much more than what is considered ‘Tax Deductable Allowance’ for charity donation to really come into that spectrum.
This week we have seen yet another high net worth individual, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook, come out and pledge US$500 million of Facebook Shares to a local Silicone Valley Charity, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, who reported they are thrilled to have been given so much. This is not the first time that Mark Zuckerberg has pledged money to charities; in fact in early 2010 Mark joined with Bill and Warren in a ‘Pledge of Giving’ to donate most of their wealth.
Regardless of how we view, Bill, Warren or Mark, regarding their vast wealth, it is comforting to know that these people understand two fundamental facts and these are:
There is only so much money you can use in any one lifetime.
There are people and organisations out there that seriously need help and help should be provided to the needy… It is the moral thing to do.
I wonder how many of my readers, if they were in the same position as the gentleman above, would do the same? I have to admit I am of the view that if my venture, meebal.com, was indeed successful, I would be inclined to pledge most of my personal wealth. Sure, I would make sure my family was taken care of but beyond that I would ensure that my wealth was spread across those who need it and those who could do better with it. At the end of the day I cannot take it with me when I pass off this mortal coil and when that day comes all the money in the world will become irrelevant to me.
How much of my wealth would I give? That’s really subjective to how much I can accumulate, but if I was in the Bill, Warren or Mark bracket (day dreaming again) then surely over 80% would not be unreasonable. Let’s just say I was worth US$20 billion and I pledged 80%, that’s US$16 billion – leaving me with a fortune to spread among my family of US$4 billion – this is also way more than they could ever spend in reality but it would at least allow them to pass on the wealth, and hopefully help others, down through the future generations.
Money can buy you many wonderful things and live a lifestyle that most will never experience, however it does not buy you health but by giving it can, and often does, lift the spirit and provide a great deal of joy when looking into the eyes of those less fortunate and knowing that you made a positive difference to someone else.