The world has 1,011 billionaires and 403 are in the U.S. Mainland China has 64 and there are 24 in Hong Kong. Would these billionaires join the Giving Pledge? Why and why not? Or, perhaps Asia needs their own version of a giving pledge? Those of us in the philanthropic field watched and waited for the philanthropists in Asia to respond. Across Asia, many editorials and news articles have been written on the subject but we have yet to see an orchestrated effort of wealthy individuals comes together to make such a pledge. Will this change once Gates and Buffett visit China in late September? Gates and Buffett plan to meet a “large group of Chinese wealthy people.” In addition, they will be visiting India in March 2011.
A spokesperson for the Giving Pledge project said that the trips are to:
…explain it to people in those countries and maybe give a little bit of our experience. And if they wish to take what we think is a good idea and run with it, we’ll be cheering. But we will not be leading those efforts.
Responses from Asia
Will an Indian Billionaire Take the Pledge? Two of the richest five people in the world live in India but no one has joined the pledge. The article reports that the spokeswoman for Dilip Shanghvi, chairman of Sun Pharmaceutical said Mr. Shanghvi “would prefer not to talk on personal philanthropy.” Emily Harrison, founder of Innovaid, says that “the channels for giving are fewer and, more often than not, riddled with corruption.” She then goes on to say that Indian’s want 100% of their funding to go into “tangible purposes” and not administrative costs. Hmmm… what do you think? Would our readers agree with Emily?
Giving Pledge (Malaysia). The author talks about how Malaysian values differ from Gates and others in the U.S. The author states “other billionaires feel that they made their money with their own abilities and therefore justified to claim all their wealth as their own.” Malaysian society “would not expect any rich man to take out half of his wealth.”
Giving Pledge (Korea). An editorial in the Korea Times says that owners of family-run conglomerates (chaebol) are too stingy to give their wealth for philanthropic purposes. The author goes on to say that “billionaire’s donate their wealth back to society when they try to avoid or mitigate punishment. However, compare the author’s comment with a recent study by the Beautiful Foundation that found 96% of wealthy Koreans have experience with charitable giving. While the study found that wealthy Koreans on average gave $500 a month and not half of their wealth, there is a trend that philanthropy is growing.
Matthew Bishop on the Giving Pledge
Matthew Bishop is The Economist’s New York bureau chief. He is also the author (with Michael Green) of Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World. Here he talks about the Giving Pledge and offers some thoughts on its possible success: