Billionaires Giving Back

A Special 'This Week' with Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and Ted Turner

ByABC News
November 28, 2010, 7:51 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2010— -- In a special Thanksgiving edition of "This Week," some of the world's richest people sat down with Christiane Amanpour to talk about their extraordinary Giving Pledge -- a commitment to give the majority of their wealth away through philanthropy. Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner and others delved into the meaning of philanthropy, their moral obligation to give back and the future of the country in which each of them reached the heights of prosperity.

Having a lot of money doesn't mean it's easy to give it away intelligently, a handful of the world's richest people told Amanpour.

"Everybody who's rich has considered it," Ted Turner, the founder of CNN said. "It's just a question of whether they do it or not because it's so much easier not to do it."

For Buffett, the choice to give was easy, the execution was difficult. "The question was how to do it. And it's much easier to make it than it is to give it away intelligently," said Buffett, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Spearheaded by Gates and Buffett, the Giving Pledge "is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes," according to its founding statement.

Bill Gates explained that philanthropy was contagious. More than 40 people have already signed on to the Giving Pledge, and others are expected to join in the coming months.

"There's a certain momentum in terms of the more you hear about other people doing giving, it will encourage you to do more," Bill Gates said. "And certainly all of us who got involved have been inspired by each other's stories, and that rededicates us to getting this money to have the most positive impact."

Buffett, who will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, early next year, said that giving was an obligation but also just made sense.

"I've got everything I possibly need," Buffett said. "I've got a whole bunch of what I call claim checks on society. Little stock certificates. They sit in a box and have been there for 40 years. They can't do anything for me," he said, but "they can do a lot for other people if intelligently used."