Stephen Ross, founder and chairman of Related Companies, yesterday (Tuesday) joined the Giving Pledge, the global initiative created by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates that invites the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to give half or more of their wealth to charity or philanthropic causes of their choice.
“As a very young boy, my uncle taught me a valuable lesson, the importance of giving back and using your impact and influence to make the world a better place,” said Ross.
“Although I have generally conducted my philanthropic efforts privately, I hope through publicly committing to the Giving Pledge that I will inspire others to commit to significant philanthropy the way my uncle inspired me.
“I am delighted, grateful and honored to join this important effort in the hope that collectively we can leave the world a little better place than we found it.”
Ross was one of nine wealthy families and individuals who committed to give half or more of their wealth to charity.
Now in its third year and totaling 114 signatories, the Giving Pledge is a long-term, global initiative created by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates that aims to inspire deeper engagement in philanthropy and increase charitable giving globally.
The new pledge signatories announced yesterday include Lord Ashcroft, Spanx creator Sara Blakely, Monica and David Gelbaum, cell phone pioneers Craig and Susan McCaw, hedge funder Paul E. Singer, Mark and Mary Stevens, Tad Taube, and Samuel Yin. Additionally, coal merchant Joe Craft announced his commitment to the Giving Pledge in late 2012.
This most recent group of pledge signatories comes from diverse business backgrounds including technology, real estate, apparel and finance. They are also representative of the strong momentum in philanthropy around the globe, with 114 signatories representing ten countries and 23 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
“As the Giving Pledge grows in size and scope, we will benefit from broader perspectives and experiences,” said Melinda Gates, pledge co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We’ve found that the opportunity for us to share best practices and learn from each other’s global experiences is enabling us to have the greatest possible impact with our charitable giving.”
The 114 pledgers range in age from 28 to 97. Globally, signatories represent nine separate countries. In the United States, they are from 23 states and the District of Columbia, with the largest contingents from California and New York.
Pledgers give to a wide variety of causes, such as education, health, medical research, social services and the environment.
The pledgers are at different stages in their philanthropy — some have already given away the majority of their wealth, while some are just getting started. But they have all committed to give half their wealth, with at least 40 pledging even more in their Giving Pledge letters.
The Giving Pledge encourages open conversation about philanthropy and does not involve direct appeals, pooling money or requirements to support a particular cause or organization.
Pledge signatories come together throughout the year to discuss challenges, successes and failures, as well as how to be smarter about giving.
Although the Giving Pledge is specifically focused on billionaires, it is inspired by past and present efforts that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds.
The inspiration is the example set by millions of people who give generously (and often at great personal sacrifice) to make the world a better place.
Ross is the Chairman and Founder of Related Companies and the owner of the Miami Dolphins.
He is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Equinox Holdings, Inc., and is a trustee of Lincoln Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is also a director of the World Resources Institute and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BBA, from Wayne State University Law School with a JD and from New York University School of Law with an LLM.