Wise Contributions

Moving Beyond the Giving Pledge

The Giving Pledge is a campaign to encourage the wealthiest people in America to make a commitment to give most of their money to philanthropic causes. The campaign specifically targets billionaires and was made public in 2010 by the two wealthiest men in the United States, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

In a recent Huffington Post blog, David C. Colby, vice president of research and evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) draws from the experience of RWJF to provide advice to this campaign. Committing to the Giving Pledge is no small act, but as Andrew Carnegie noted making wise gifts is a difficult task.

From RWJF’s experience, making wise decisions about the use of funds requires a reliance on evidence. Individual philanthropists can turn to organizations like the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania for evidence.

Many foundations also provide evidence on their Web sites. Finally, individual donors could partner their giving with foundations that are committed to evidence, following the example of Warren Buffett’s gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Colby concludes, “We hope they will value the power of evidence to propel their impact and increase their effectiveness.”