14 billionaires giving fortunes away

Not all billionaires want to blow it all on super-mega-yachts, diamonds the size of their own head, or Premiership football clubs: some want to change the world for the better instead.

In fact 14 billionaires have just promised to give huge chunks of their fortunes away to charity.

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Back in 2010, 30 of the world's wealthiest people joined together to commit to giving away at least half their wealth during their lifetime. The group was lead by Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Warren Buffett.

They signed The Giving Pledge, which now has 168 signatories from 21 countries around the world - and has just welcomed another 14 billionaire members.

They will use their resources to support a range of causes, including education, local communities, climate change and environmental protection.

The new names include Lenard H Ainsworth from Australia; Dagmar Dolby, Robert Frederick Smith, Terry and Susan Ragon, Dean and Marianne Metropolis, and Nick and Leslie Hanauer from the US; Dong Fangjun and You Zhonghui from China; plus Anne Grete Eidsvig and Kjell Inge Rokke from Norway.

One of the most well-known additions to the list is Monaco and Cyprus national Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou - most famous as the man who set up easyJet. He was apparently convinced to join after receiving a phone call from Bill Gates.

The group has generated an astonishing amount of money for philanthropic causes. Bill and Melinda Gates alone have given away more than $28 billion.


Bill said that for him it was about doing something meaningful with the money. As an individual, once you reach a certain level of wealth, you have everything you need. By giving the money to needy causes, it suddenly has meaning again.

For those with children, it's arguably more of a wrench to consider giving that money to someone else - knowing you are taking it from your children.

However, for those who have signed the pledge, giving billions away offers a double-whammy for their family. It means they are not leaving everything to their children - and so encourage their offspring to do something with their lives. At the same time, they are establishing foundations that can become a focus for all the family - so they can be part of achieving something positive with the money.

But what do you think? If you had billions of pounds, would you be in a hurry to give more than half of it away? Let us know in the comments.

The 10 richest people on the planet
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The 10 richest people on the planet
The richest man in the world is Bill Gates, with a fortune of $72.9 billion - up 16.2% in a year. His fortune is all the more impressive when you add in the fact that he has given away $28 billion - most of it to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Microsoft is now just a fifth of his fortune.
The Mexican telecoms magnate is still sitting on an incredible fortune of $65.5 billion - but this is actually $9.7 billion less than last December. He held the top spot for three years until it was regained by Gates, and now has interests ranging from mining to real estate - and even a stake in the New York Times.
The Spanish retail guru behind Zara is worth $61.9 billion - made from his 60% stake in the business. His company now also owns Massimo Dutti, Bershka and Pull and Bear.
The Investment genius known as the Sage of Omaha is now worth $58.2 billion. He still has no plans to retire at the age of 83. Last year he made $12.5 billion, and bought Heinz.
The man behind the Ikea brand is worth $50.3 billion. This finding differs dramatically from the net worth estimated by Forbes - who say that he demonstrated in 2011 that the majority of his economic stake had been transferred beyond his control decades ago and put his worth at $3.3 billion.
Their fortune (of $45.2 billion each) comes from the family business, Koch Industries (the second biggest company in the US), where Charles is CEO and David Executive Vice President. Both brothers invest 90% of everything they make into the business.

The technology firm Oracle has made its founder $41 billion. He is enjoying his money, investing in properties and his America's Cup team. He has also started donating enormous sums of money to his own medical foundation - which is working on reversing the effects of ageing.

The family behind the Wal-Mart brand has profited enormously, with Christy (daughter-in-law of founder Sam) worth $36.5 billion and Jim (son of the founder and pictured) worth $35.1 billion. Christy became the richest woman in the world after the death of her husband in a plane crash in 2005.

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