Can You Get Funded From the Giving Pledge?

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Published:

July 18, 2023

Last Updated:

August 7, 2023

Nearly 15 years ago, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet began having conversations on how to get their ultra-rich counterparts to donate large portions of their wealth to philanthropy.

In 2010, the duo launched the Giving Pledge, a campaign they hoped would change philanthropy by persuading 50 fellow billionaires to commit to donating a percentage of their wealth to charity.

As of today, hundreds of high-profile billionaires have signed the pledge. As you can imagine, the donations resulting from these pledges could be quite significant.

So what causes does the Giving Pledge support? How are donations determined and distributed? And—most importantly—could the Giving Pledge support your nonprofit?

Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about the Giving Pledge!

What Is the Giving Pledge

Pledge

Let’s start with the basics: the Giving Pledge invites billionaires from across the globe to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic or charitable causes. This allows the world’s wealthiest and most influential people to come together to discuss sustainable ways to solve complex, global issues.

The Giving Pledge was created in 2010 by Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffet. Following the 2009 financial crisis, Warren Buffet, accompanied by Bill and Melinda Gates, hosted a number of small, informal meetings among a group of wealthy donors to discuss the best ways to nudge their fellow billionaires into increased philanthropic giving.

Over time, the founders of these meetings settled on drafting a pledge to invite their peers to “give at least half of their wealth to charity in their lifetime or at their death”. As of 2023, more than 230 individuals have joined the pledge from 28 different countries—including Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, George Lucas, and MacKenzie Scott.

Those who have joined the Giving Pledge are setting a new standard that “billionaires should commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy to address society’s most pressing needs.”

With so many well-known billionaires taking part in the pledge, you might be wondering if your nonprofit could get funding from the Giving Pledge!

How to Get Money From the Giving Pledge

Give Money

The Giving Pledge is not a pooled fund or an oversight organization that allocates grant dollars. In fact, the Giving Pledge does not directly distribute or award grants or donations in any form.

Instead, signatories fulfill their pledges at different times and through a variety of methods, including traditional charities, foundations, and nonprofits. Signatories pursue their philanthropic efforts independently and give to a diverse range of issues and causes that align with their personal philanthropic interests.

There is no specific list of causes or prescribed methods for giving. It’s up to each individual billionaire that has joined the pledge to determine how to distribute funds and what causes to support.

Which leads us to the next topic of this article—what causes get supported by the Giving Pledge? Kepe reading to find out!

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Causes That Get Support From the Giving Pledge

Charity

As we have already discussed, the individual philanthropists that are part of the Giving Pledge are allowed to determine how, when, and where to give their money.

This means that funds are given in support of a wide array of different causes, depending on each donor’s specific values and interests. Causes that have been supported through the Giving Pledge include medical research, poverty alleviation, climate change, education, arts and culture, and more.

Here are a few examples of philanthropists who have signed on to the Giving Pledge and the causes they support.

MacKenzie Scott

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has made headlines several times over the last few years due to the significant amount of money she has donated to various nonprofits.

Through the establishment of Yield Giving, Ms. Scott’s charitable giving organization, she has outlined a plan to provide more than $14 billion in donations to 1,600 nonprofits.

Each grantee is listed publicly on the Yield Giving website, and the list includes organizations like The Y in Central Maryland, The Greenlining Institute, Fugees Family, Mothers2mothers International, and the United Way of Palm Beach County.

Mark Zuckerberg & Priscilla Chan

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, formed the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to manage their charitable giving.

In 2015, they vowed to donate 99% of their Facebook shares, which are worth more than $45 billion, to charitable causes.

Their philanthropic areas of focus are personalized learning, curing and eradicating disease, and building strong communities. So far, the couple has donated $100 million to improve public schools in Newark. They've also donated to Abundant Housing LA, the Sierra Health Foundation, Together Education, and the Urban League of Greater Cleveland.

George Lucas & Mellody Hobson

George Lucas and Mellody Hobson launched the George Lucas Educational Foundation, with the goal of transforming “K-12 education so that all students can acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives.”

In 2012, when Lucasfilm was sold to Disney, Lucas pledged to “donate the majority of the proceeds” as part of the Giving Pledge.

Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, created a foundation in her name and philanthropic arm called Leg-UP, which helps to build homes for impoverished families, send women to college, and supports Oprah’s Leadership Academy in South Africa.

Since joining the pledge, Ms. Blakely has donated to the Malala Fund, Women for Women International, and Rainbow Village.

Marc & Lynne Benioff

Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce, joined the Giving Pledge in June 2016 with the goal to ensure that all children can access high-quality healthcare and education. Since joining, Marc and his wife, Lynne Benioff, have donated $250 million to build children’s hospitals in California.

Sheryl Sandberg

In 2014, then-Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg signed onto the Giving Pledge, committing to give away a majority of her self-made fortune. She now is the Board Chair of her family foundation, Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation.

Since joining, it’s estimated that she has donated more than $31 million to different charitable causes, including women’s empowerment groups, the Stand up for Kids Campaign, and the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties. Sheryl has also committed to supporting education and anti-poverty initiatives.

Arthur Blank

Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, joined the Giving Pledge in 2012 and established the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation with the goal of supporting education, youth development, and the environment.

This foundation has supported the Atlanta United Community Fund, the United Way of Hall County, and the Black Sports Business Symposium.

As you can see, the causes that are supported by the Giving Pledge signatories are incredibly diverse. And the amounts that are donated are not small sums! So, how much money has been donated through the Giving Pledge? Let’s investigate!

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The Impact of the Giving Pledge

Giving Pledge

The Giving Pledge came to life in 2010, following several conversations between Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates about how they could set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy.

Originally, the Giving Pledge focused on the United States, however it quickly expanded into a global philanthropic movement.

To date, more than 240 signatories from 29 different countries have signed the pledge. Most of the signatories of the pledge are billionaires; as of 2016, the pledges are estimated to total a staggering $600 billion. That is so much money!

By signing the Giving Pledge, signatories are creating a new social norm that the world’s billionaires should commit the majority of their wealth to philanthropy in an effort to address society’s most complex and pressing needs. Without a doubt, the billionaires that have signed onto this pledge are making incredible strides in changing the face of philanthropy across the globe.

Don’t forget—you can find more information about the foundations we’ve mentioned in this article (and many more!) by using Instrumentl. Instrumentl makes it easy for nonprofits to connect with funders that align with their missions and needs. You can start your 14-day free trial today!

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Wrapping Up: Finding Funds Beyond the Giving Pledge

Pledge

The Giving Pledge was created to inspire the world’s ultra-wealthy to commit to donating large portions of their fortunes to charitable causes.

The Giving Pledge does not directly donate or disburse funds to organizations. Rather, each individual philanthropist writes a letter when they sign the pledge stating how much of their wealth they intend to donate and what causes they will support. Most of these individuals have formed their own foundations or other philanthropic arms and oversee all of their own giving. Luckily, there’s a comprehensive list available on the Giving Pledge website of every single signatory to the pledge.

If you're wondering how you can leverage the pledges made by these signatories, we’re here to help! Instrumental is a comprehensive grants platform that will allow you to research each signatory’s foundation and assess whether it’s a good fit for your organization.

And if not, don’t fret! Instrumentl’s database is so comprehensive, you will get paired to dozens of other good fit funders and high-ROI funding opportunities.

Happy fundraising!

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl is the all-in-one grant management tool for nonprofits and consultants who want to find and win more grants without the stress of juggling grant work through disparate tools and sticky notes.

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