What are the philanthropy motivations of billionaires?

4 July 2010 | By Cause4 staff

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett recently invited the world’s billionaires to give away half their fortunes through an initiative called the Giving Pledge. All those on the Forbes 400 American Rich List have been asked to pledge half their net-worth either straightaway or else at their death. If everyone were to comply, this could raise US$600billion.

This has elicited a level of scepticism from some people about the true motivation of Gates, Buffett and those who have already pledged to give. It has been suggested that they are driven by ego rather than altruism. But the critics are missing the point and in danger of allowing an unhealthy degree of self-righteousness to cloud their thinking. Who are we (and they) to judge? Besides, does it really matter what the motivation for giving might be?

Donors give for a variety of reasons: genuine altruism, recognition that the state cannot and should not always provide all of the answers; connection with the cause, wanting to give back or adherence to religious expectations; many – in fact most - are probably aware of the tax-breaks that can come their way; some might even wish to massage their egos and enjoy the good publicity that will come their way. The important matter is that those seeking funds for all-important causes are helped to deliver their projects well.

We should spend less time questioning motives and channel our energies into building meaningful relationships with philanthropists, discovering what makes them tick, because therein lies the path to successful fundraising on which the important causes of charity are wholly dependent.

Back to top

Blog index

"The course was informative, enjoyable, covering plenty of ground in just one day without feeling rushed at all. It came at a crucial time in our planning and thinking as a development team and was a very welcome pause for thought. Michelle was a brilliant facilitator and it was a real benefit to hear about her experiences across the sector."

Jane Reynolds, Development Manager, Manchester International Festival

More by posts by Cause4 staff

Cause4's Pick of the Month - August 2019

1st August, 2019 | By Cause4 staff

It's a new month and the Cause4 team are excited to introduce another four inspiring individuals that are guiding the way in charity leadership, social entrepreneurship, Trusteeship and Arts Fundraising. Read on to meet our pick of the month for August. 

Cause4’s response to: The UK Civil Society Almanac 2019 Report

15th July, 2019 | By Cause4 staff

The UK Civil Society Almanac Reports, released by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), is a crucial source of data that has been providing insights into developments in the voluntary sector since 1996. NCVO has now released its latest annual report, of which the following response will outline key findings including positive growth in terms of grants and investments, whilst public donations and fundraising decline. Diversity in particular has been highlighted as an ongoing issue within the sector throughout the report.  

Cause4's Pick of the Month June 2019

4th June, 2019 | By Cause4 staff

As we approach summer and the longest day of the year this month, we can’t believe quite how fast this year has gone – or the 10 years that led up to our birthday party in May! In our spirit of Sharism, check out our favourite Charity Leader, Entrepreneur, Trustee and Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Fellow of the Month for June!