The Giving Pledge: Billionaires Promise to Donate at Least Half Their Fortunes to Charity

"Some billionaires are saying, 'You know, I don't really need to be called out publicly,'" said Miller. "[They say] 'I don't appreciate it. It's a publicity stunt.'"

Still, plenty have signed on to a list that includes "old money" families and the self-made. The names include corporate titans, entertainers, oil executives and politicians. In their personal letters, each shared some of their individual philosophies on giving.

"By giving, we inspire others to give of themselves, whether their money or their time," wrote New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Buffett wrote that by spending any more than one percent of his fortune on his own family, "neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99 percent can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others."

Former Citigroup executive Sandford Weill and his wife Joan described their motivation for participating, writing that "we are firm believers that shrouds don't have pockets."

Billionaires Explain Their Giving Philosophies

"I'm not a big fan of inherited wealth. It generally does more harm than good," wrote oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, adding that while he enjoys making money, giving it away is a "close second."

In an exclusive statement to ABC News, signatory Pete Peterson wrote, "As millions of Americans suffer the hardships of a deep recession, as the economy's future gets ever more uncertain, and as the public's concern about Washington's political obstructionism gets ever more intense, I think private philanthropy has a unique and urgent role to play in both helping the less fortunate and in educating, motivating, and activating the American public to get this nation on a sounder course."

In another exclusive statement, David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group, said, "I regard it as a repayment of a debt to the country that has been so generous to my family and me. I hope that the attention the pledge receives will encourage all Americans--not just a select few--to consider increasing their own giving to worthy organizations and causes. If that occurs, the pledge will have really achieved its most important aim."

Full List of "Giving Pledge" Participants, Organized By Estimated Net Worth:

1. Bill and Melinda Gates

2. Warren Buffett

3. Larry Ellison

4. Michael R. Bloomberg

5. Paul G. Allen

6. Ronald O. Perelman

7. George B. Kaiser

8. Jim and Marilyn Simons

9. Eli and Edythe Broad

10. Pierre and Pam Omidyar

11. Michele Chan and Patrick Soon-Shiong

12. Laura and John Arnold

13. George Lucas

14. Barron Hilton

15. David M. Rubenstein

16. Jeff Skoll

17. David Rockefeller

18. Julian H. Robertson, Jr.

19. Peter G. Peterson

20. Walter Scott, Jr.

21. Ted Turner

22. Ann and John Doerr

23. Tashia and John Morgridge

24. Bernie and Billi Marcus

25. Alfred E. Mann

26. Herb and Marion Sandler

27. Joan and Irwin Jacobs

28. Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor

29. Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg

30. T. Boone Pickens

31. Bernard and Barbro Osher

32. Elaine and Ken Langone

33. Jon and Karen Huntsman

34. Thomas S. Monaghan

35. Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest

36. Jim and Virginia Stowers

37. Vicki and Roger Sant

38. Shelby White

39. Lorry I. Lokey

40. Sanford and Joan Weill

ABC's Dan Arnall, Bianna Golodryga, Eric Noll, and Christina Brozyna contributed to this report.

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