Richard Branson, a billionaire from the United Kingdom, founder and chairman of Virgin Group joined the Giving Pledge, which was started by U.S. billionaires, Warren Buffett together with Bill & Melinda Gates

Richard Branson

The Giving Pledge is an initiative that aims to help resolve some of the most pressing problems in the society by encouraging the wealthiest individuals and families worldwide to donate more than a half of their wealth to charitable causes during their lifetime or after death.

Branson and his wife Joan are one of the 12 foreign signatories in the Giving Pledge including John Caudwell, Chris and Jamie Cooper-Hohn, Andrew and Nicola Forrest, Dr Mo Ibrahim, Patrice and Precious Motsepe, Victor Pinchuk, Hasso Plattner, Vladimir Potanin, Azim Premji, David Sainsbury and Vincent Tan Chee Yioun.

According to Branson, whenever his family takes their wealth out of Virgin Group’s businesses, they invest in “entrepreneurial approaches to help make a difference in the world.”  In his letter, Branson wrote, “’Stuff’ really is not what brings happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters. Happily our children, who will be our principal heirs, agree with me on this.”

On the other hand, Vladimir Potanin, a nickel and media mogul in Russia said, “I genuinely believe that wealth should work for the public good decision I made is not just an attempt to be remembered as a philanthropist. I also see it as a way to protect my children from the burden of the extreme wealth, which may deprive them of any motivation to achieve anything in life on their own.”

Meanwhile, Victor Pinchuk, owner of Interpipe, a company in Ukraine that manufactures steel pipes for oil and gas companies said, “Joining a group of dedicated people, and the opportunity to learn from them, I look forward to my giving becoming more impactful. Investing half or more of my fortune in my lifetime and beyond into areas like education, healthcare, access to contemporary art and the promotion of my country, I will be investing in the next generation, those who will build the Ukraine and the world of tomorrow.” Pinchuk featured Gates during a roundtable discussion on online education, which he hosted during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last January.

“The Giving Pledge brings people together to exchange ideas about how to be as effective as possible and smarter in our giving. There are amazing examples of giving happening around the world — and not just among the wealthy — that we can learn from, and I am excited about the conversations and ideas that will happen thanks to this impressive group of international philanthropists. In many cases, their perspectives on giving will be informed by living much closer to the areas of greatest need,” said Gates in a statement.