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Bloomberg Pledges To Give Away Half His Money

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) – Forty wealthy families and individuals, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, pledged Wednesday to give away at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity.

The billionaires join investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates who launched “The Giving Pledge” in June.

“You can’t spend it if you have over a certain amount,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “If you really care about your family, I’ve always thought that the best thing to do is to make the world better for your kids and your grandkids, rather than just give them some money.”

Bloomberg, who has a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $18 billion, said he has changed his personal philosophy over the years from wanting to be more private about his giving toward trying to play a leadership role. He said his whole family is in tune with his giving plan.

Buffett decided in 2006 to give 99 percent of his fortune to charity. Then, he was worth about $44 billion. After five years of investment returns while making annual gifts to five foundations, Buffett’s fortune totals nearly $46 billion.

Film director George Lucas, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, David Rockefeller and investor Ronald Perelman are among the other .

In addition to making a donation commitment, Gates and Buffett are asking billionaires to pledge to give wisely and learn from their peers.

Buffett said he, Bill and Melinda Gates, and a few others have made 70 to 80 calls to some of the nation’s wealthiest individuals. The people who agreed to the pledge are from 13 states, with the most participants in California and New York.
   
Among those who haven’t signed the pledge, some prefer to keep their philanthropy anonymous, some were not available to talk, and others were not interested, Buffett said.
   
Many on the list will be asked to call others, and small dinners will be held across the country in coming months to talk about the campaign.

“We’re off to a terrific start,” Buffett said.

Buffett said he and Bill Gates also will meet with groups of wealthy people in China and India within the next six months to talk about philanthropy. They hope the idea of generosity will spread, but they have no plans to lead a global campaign, Buffett said.

Gates and Buffett estimate their efforts could generate $600 billion dollars in charitable giving. In 2009, American philanthropies received a total of about $300 billion in donations, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
   
In addition to making a donation commitment, Gates and Buffett are asking billionaires to pledge to give wisely and learn from their peers.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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