Like many of you, I am a big fan of the two richest men in America (and 2 of the 3 richest in the world). One of them is responsible for creating the technologies that make this very blog post possible. Admittedly, I do like Apple products, but I have and always will be a Windows guy. The other guy is the most well known advocate for index investing among normal people such as you and me. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett aren’t just great for their contributions to my life, but for their philanthropy.

Bill Gates retired early and plans to spend the rest of his life improving humanity and giving away his money. Warren Buffett has simply pledged to give a 99% of his money away, a large portion to Gates’ foundation. Now, they’re up to something else.

Not content with giving away something like $100 billion between the two of them, they’re now trying to get other billionaires to give away at least half of their money too. They’ve already gotten some low key billionaires (if they’re such a thing) to buy into the idea.

That’s not really the point of this post, because you can read that in the news. The key here is how Buffett and Gates are getting people to do it. They’re very popular people with lots of sway with the media. To billionaires, it really doesn’t make a difference if they have $6 billion, $2 billion, or $50 billion. So what you start thinking about is legacy. This is why many of them give away their money. Leave a positive mark on society.

Buffett and Gates (B&G) are essentially giving these billionaires a chance to stand out and associate themselves with the most well known men of our time. I’d probably jump at the chance to give away half my fortune if it meant being associated with these guys. On top of that, B&G are asking them to make their pledges public, so in that way they have a social contract. Brilliant.

These are two guys that aren’t just using their money to make the world a better place, they’re using their ability to influence to get the rest of the world’s rich to give their money away too. So far they’ve only really gotten a few people on board who were probably planning on giving their money away anyway, but hopefully this catches on.

categories: personal finance