Three cheers for billionaires!

40 billionaires — including George Lucas and Paul Allen — have joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s campaign to get billionaires to give away at least half their wealth:

Software mogul Ellison is among those who have given widely but rarely stated their intentions so publicly.

“Until now, I have done this giving quietly—because I have long believed that charitable giving is a personal and private matter,” wrote Ellison in a public letter on the Giving Pledge’s website.

He said he put virtually all his assets into a trust with the intention of giving away at least 95% of his wealth to charitable causes and has already given hundreds of millions of dollars to medical research and education.

“So why am I going public now? Warren Buffett personally asked me to write this letter because he said I would be ‘setting an example’ and ‘influencing others’ to give,” Ellison wrote. “I hope he’s right.”

Other billionaires on the list, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, had previously stated their plans to give away the majority of their wealth to charity but said calling attention to their plans will encourage others to follow suit.

“I’ve long stated that I enjoy making money, and I enjoy giving it away. I like making money more, but giving it away is a close second,” Pickens wrote in a letter on the Giving Pledge website. “To date, I’ve given away nearly $800 million to a wide-range of charitable organizations, and I look forward to the day I hit the $1 billion mark.”

The full list — viewable at GivingPledge.org — also includes:

  • Barry Diller
  • John Doerr
  • Pierre Omidyar
  • Ron Perelman
  • Pete Peterson
  • David Rockefeller
  • Jim Simons
  • Jeff Skoll
  • Ted Turner
  • Sandy Weill

Thank you all!

Posted by James on Wednesday, August 04, 2010