Irish American billionaire philanthropist Chuck Feeney has stated that Warren Buffett and Bill Gates did no go far enough in their pledge to give half their wealth to charity.
"I support it, but it doesn't go far enough," Feeney told Global Post reporter Conor O’Clery in Dublin during a recent visit to Ireland. O'Clery also wrote the best-selling biography of Feeney.
Feeney has given close to $2 billion dollars to Irish universities and foundations. He also played a leading role in the Irish peace process, underwriting Sinn Fein’s Washington office until they were able to raise their own funds in America.
The founder of Duty Free Shops he has also given billions to universities and foundations worldwide.
All in all he will have given away $7 billion by 2016 when he expects all his money will have been allocated to charity. He instituted the 'Giving while Living' project which entails wealthy donors giving all their funding while alive
He takes issue with the Gates/Buffett pledge saying it does not go far enough “Giving While Living makes it clear, The Giving Pledge doesn’t,” he said.
“In May 2009 I attended the first gathering initiated by the Gateses and Buffet to elicit discussion among a small group of philanthropists about how to encourage greater giving among those with huge wealth,” he said , referring to a dinner in New York attended by a dozen billionaires.
“I was asked to participate in The Giving Pledge in conjunction with its public roll-out," Feeney told Global Post. "After thinking it over, I declined. This is primarily because, having taken this step 25 years ago, I don’t believe it is appropriate for me to join formally. Nevertheless I support the initiative, with which some 35 wealthy individuals and couples are now associated, and I remain open-minded as to how I might contribute to its further development and the ensuing process.”
Feeney's “Giving while Living “ philosophy inspired Bill Gates among others.
Gates told Charlie Rose on PBS that he was inspired by Feeney’s “phenomenal story.”
Feeney, however, is said to fear that the Giving pledges may run foul of surviving family members and believes little may be happening despite the pledges.
Feeney believes that giving his $7 billion fortune away was in“a sensible means for directing to good purpose, in a timely manner, a large and increasing wealth that well exceeded my, and my family’s, lifetime needs, and which I believe would have become problematic.”
Giving it all away Feeney said has been a “ rich source of joy and satisfaction for me and for my family as well,” he said. Feeney has four daughters and a son.
His message to other billionaires now is, “If you try it, you might like it!”