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The United States is home to most of the world’s richest people; the land under the stars and stripes is also home to planet Earth’s most extreme income inequality. It’s sensible for the world’s wealthiest people to give away their fortunes to good causes. Nobody needs nest eggs worth billions upon billions of dollars; as such, the people with the world’s deepest pocketbooks often are active philanthropically.

The Giving Pledge is helping the world’s richest people become far more generous than they would be without the campaign. Founded by Bill Gates – the creator of Microsoft and a longtime executive at the company – and Warren Buffett – the legendary Nebraska-based investor who founded Berkshire Hathaway – in 2010, The Giving Pledge has grown into having 183 members from over 20 countries. Almost all of the members of The Giving Pledge list are billionaires, though there are a few dirty peasants – and I’m all for being a dirty peasant, in this case – who only possess hundreds of millions of dollars.

How does The Giving Pledge work?

When people give away money to government agencies for certain causes, such agencies stash those lump sums away under the title of restricted assets. Such money can only be used when all of the donor’s requirements have been fulfilled.

The Giving Pledge doesn’t work like the aforementioned scenario. Rather, Warren Buffett’s and Bill Gates’ campaign does not accept any assets itself, operate any accounts to hold assets, or otherwise handle others’ assets.

How pledging works

In most cases, a pledge refers to an amount of money that someone promises to give to someone or something at a certain time or after preset requirements have been met. Many people who are civic-minded or enjoy philanthropy often give to government agencies in the form of pledges; these are legal promises to give whatever assets they said they would to the recipients they desire.

With The Giving Pledge, members write a letter that details what they plan on doing with the money they put forward by signing The Giving Pledge. The detailed letter goes on The Giving Pledge’s official website so the world can read it.

Donors are free to go through with what they pledged at any time.