Last week, Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates issued a challenge to the nation’s wealthiest citizens. They asked them to take a giving pledge and commit at least half of their net worth to charity during their lifetime or after death. Billionaires Eli and Edythe Broad took the pledge, saying they’ll give 75 percent of their wealth to charity, as did several other major U.S. philanthropists.
This validates what we always tell our clients: When it comes to fundraising, leadership is it. Buffett and the Gateses have led the way for some time with their philanthropic endeavors. Now they’ve challenged their peers to step up. The Chronicle of Philanthropy estimates that this could eventually generate as much as $600 billion for nonprofits, twice what is now given annually. Keep in mind, though, that some of this giving won’t be seen until after these philanthropists pass on.
While this is wonderful for global needs, unless it’s brought down to the local level, those gifts won’t have an impact on the vast majority of nonprofits that serve their local communities. Many of these have been hit much harder by the recession than their international counterparts and could really use a boost.
What if community leaders came up with their own version of the giving pledge? If a handful of local philanthropists came together and challenged others to take a pledge, imagine what that could do for their community’s nonprofits.
Anyone out there willing to get it started?