(Bloomberg News) Bill Gates, the college dropout who started the world's richest charitable fund, said needy people depend on self-made millionaires and billionaires to donate money before passing their wealth on to less-generous heirs.
"Our experience worldwide is that first-generation wealth is actually more generous than dynastic wealth," Gates, the richest American, said today at a press conference in New Delhi. "Both here in India and U.S. and other countries, the biggest givers are those who are receivers of first-generation wealth."
Gates, 55, is pressing the rich to give away more of their money. He started the Giving Pledge in June with Warren Buffett and offered membership to billionaires who agree to commit half their fortunes to charity. Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, filmmaker George Lucas and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have signed up. India's entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to give back as well, Gates said.
"The fact that India over the last 20 years has developed these incredible success stories means that a very high percentage of them in their own way will be giving back to society," Gates said.
Buffett, who appeared on the dais today with Gates, has said more than 99% of his wealth will go to charity before or after his death. The 80-year-old investor amassed the second-biggest fortune in the U.S. by building Berkshire Hathaway Inc. from a failing textile mill to a $210 billion holding company. Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft Corp.
"Both Buffett and Gates have developed iconic statuses as philanthropists globally, not just in the United States," said Marian Stern, an adjunct assistant professor at New York University's Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising. Buffett "is going to have access before anyone else to these people and to have a robust discussion with them."
Buffett and Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, said in a statement that they met with India's leaders of business and philanthropy to discuss giving. The leaders "talked quite enthusiastically about their own approach to philanthropy," Gates said in the statement.
Gates and Buffett, whose Giving Pledge has registered more than 50 commitments, met resistance when they traveled to China in September to discuss philanthropy. Some wealthy Chinese declined an invitation to attend a private gathering with Gates and Buffett in Beijing because they'd be asked to donate to charity, Chinese-language newspaper Economic Observer reported.