Giving Away Money (While You Can)

I applaud Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla’s announcement this week to give away 99% of their Facebook shares to a new charitable foundation. The news brought to the forefront the Giving Pledge initiative started by Bill Gates and my mentor Warren Buffett. The duo challenged the world’s richest families to join them in not hoarding their money but using it for the greater good.

Bill and Melinda Gates said in a statement after the Zuckerberg-Chan news said: “As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow. The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world. We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, ‘seeds planted now will grow.’ Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come.”

Added Buffett in a statement: “A combination of brains, passion and resources on this scale will change the lives of millions. On behalf of future generations, I thank them.”

Now you don’t have to be a billionaire to pledge and make a difference. Each and every one of us can make a committment to be more responsible with our money and making sure we give it away while we can.

To inspire us we have the likes of Zuckerberg and according the Generosity Index (calculated as the ratio of lifetime donations to current net worth in U.S. dollar figures), there are many unsung heroes who have truly made a sacrifice and given away the vast majority of their fortune during their lifetime.

Ranking in absolute dollar terms, they most generous as posted on Business Insider are:

1. Bill Gates

Co-founder of Microsoft

Lifetime donations: $27-billion

Net worth: $84.2-billion

Generosity Index*: 32%

2. Warren Buffett

Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Lifetime donations: $21.5-billion

Net worth: $61-billion

Generosity Index: 35%

3. George Soros

Retired founder of Soros Fund Management

Lifetime donations: $8-billion

Net worth: $24.4 billion

Generosity Index: 33%

4. Azim Premji

Chairman of Indian consulting and IT company Wipro

Lifetime donations: $8-billion

Net worth: $15.9-billion

Generosity Index: 50%

5. Charles Francis Feeney

Retail magnate

Lifetime donations: $6.3-billion

Net worth: $1.5-million

Generosity Index: 420,000%

6. Sulaiman bin Abdul

Aziz Al Rajhi

Co-founder of Al Rajhi Bank

Lifetime donations: $5.7-billion

Net worth: $590-million

Generosity Index: 966%

7. Gordon Moore

Co-founder of Intel

Lifetime donations: $5-billion

Net worth: $6.5-billion

Generosity Index: 77%

8. Carlos Slim Helú

Chairman of Grupo Carso

Lifetime donations: $4-billion

Net worth: $27.3 billion

Generosity Index: 15%

9. Eli Broad

Former CEO of SunAmerica

Lifetime donations: $3.3-billion

Net worth: $7.3-billion

Generosity Index: 45%

10. George Kaiser

Chairman of BOK Financial Corp.

Lifetime donations: $3.3-billion

Net worth: $9.3-billion

Generosity Index: 35%

13. Mark Zuckerberg*

Founder and CEO of Facebook

Lifetime donations: $1.6-billion

Net worth: $40.7-billion

Generosity Index: 4%