- Filip Wolak/Carnegie Corporation
- Telecommunications billionaire Leonard Tow isn’t satisfied with how his fellow billionaires have responded to the Giving Pledge‘s challenge to give away the majority of their fortunes.
- Founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010, the pledge has 204 signatories including Marc Benioff, MacKenzie Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg – and it could be worth up to $600 billion by 2022, research firm Wealth-X found.
- Tow’s remarks come as the ultra-wealthy face heightened criticism over their philanthropic works – or lack thereof.
- Tow built his fortune after founding telecommunications provider Century Communications, according to the Carnegie Corporation.
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“Bill Gates and Warren Buffett organized a kind of institution that is growing steadily, and perhaps not as rapidly as we hoped, but rapidly in the eyes of many,” telecommunications billionaire Leonard Tow said of the Giving Pledge while accepting an award for his own giving at the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy award ceremony in New York City on October 16.
Tow’s remarks come as the ultra-wealthy face heightened criticism over their philanthropic works – or lack thereof. Dan Riffle, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s policy adviser and the author of the slogan “every billionaire is a policy failure,” said in July that while big philanthropy can be a good thing, high-income taxes on the 1% would allow their resources to be distributed more democratically.
A representative for the Giving Pledge declined to comment to Business Insider on the growth of the Giving Pledge.
The Giving Pledge could be worth $600 million by 2022
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett founded the Giving Pledge in 2010 to encourage billionaires to give away the majority of their fortunes, according to the organization’s website. The pledge now has 204 signatories from 23 different countries, including Marc Benioff, MacKenzie Bezos, Sara Blakely, Richard Branson, Micheal Bloomberg, and Ray Dalio. The pledge could be worth up to $600 billion by 2022, research firm Wealth-X found.
Those impressive stats aside, the pledge has come under criticism in the past for not verifying that signatories actually donate the money they pledge and for not accepting applications to become a signatory from the public. The late hedge fund manager Robert Wilson called the pledge “practically worthless” in an email exchange published by Buzzfeed News in 2014 because it allows donors to name their own foundations in their wills, Business Insider previously reported.
“These foundations become, more often than not, bureaucracy-ridden sluggards,” Wilson wrote. “These rich are delighted to toss off a few million a year in order to remain socially acceptable. But that’s it.” While Wilson was offered the opportunity to sign the pledge by Gates, he declined.
Tow and his now-deceased wife Claire signed the Giving Pledge in September 2012 and, in an open letter to Gates at the time, wrote that they “never believed that the wealth accumulated was truly ours.” At the October 2019 ceremony, Tow said that he plans to give away all of his fortune with the exception of “modest provisions” for family members.
Tow built his fortune after founding telecommunications provider Century Communications, according to the Carnegie Corporation. In 2002, Forbes estimated that Tow had a net worth of $550 million; however, Tow’s net worth must have grown substantially in the decade following as only “billionaires or those who would be billionaires if not for their giving” are invited to sign the Giving Pledge, according to the organization’s website.
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