The Giving Pledge is a campaign to encourage the wealthiest people in the world to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. The campaign specifically focuses on billionaires (or those who would be billionaires if not for their philanthropy) and was made public in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. The Huffington Post reported in April 2012 that “81 billionaires committed to giving at least half of their fortunes to charity”. As of February 2014, 122 billionaire or former billionaire individuals and couples had signed the pledge.
Not all of the world’s billionaires are dedicated to being extraordinarily altruistic — many decide to spend their money indulging in fancy cars, planes, and yachts.
But others want to spread as much of their wealth as possible before they die. A select few even want that last check to only cover the cost of their funeral.
Of course, not everyone stands to gain from such selflessness — namely, the children of these generous donors. Though they will still have untold opportunities, advantages, and connections, to help them succeed, the children of these 12 tycoons won’t be living large off their inheritances.
1. Business magnate Warren Buffett
As an incredibly wealthy investor and philanthropist, Buffett has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth, either during his life or when he dies. He started by promising 83% of it to the Gates Foundation, according to FORTUNE Magazine.
The Oracle of Omaha isn’t worried about his children not getting their fair share. Echoing a common sentiment on this list, Buffett said in his letter to the Gates Foundation: “I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.”
2. EBay founder Pierre Omidyar
Ever since Omidyar became a billionaire when he was 31 years old, the eBay founder has made it his life’s work to donate the majority of his money to those less fortunate instead of to his three children, according to Forbes.
He signed the Gates and Buffett Giving Pledge in 2010, and continuously gives eBay shares to the Omidyar Network, his philanthropic investment firm.
He and his wife Pam are also the single biggest private donors to the fight against the human trafficking industry.
3. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg gets paid $1 a year for his government duties because with a net worth of $19.5 billion, he’s pretty much set financially.
But Bloomberg is also an avid philanthropist, having donated millions to Johns Hopkins University, the Carnegie Corporation, and thousands of other non-profits.
In his letter to The Giving Pledge, Bloomberg wrote that “nearly all of my net worth will be given away in the years ahead or left to my foundation.”
Bloomberg’s two daughters, however, may be left to foot the bill upon his death. Bloomberg once said, “the best financial planning ends with bouncing the check to the undertaker.”
4. Rockstar Gene Simmons
The bassist for KISS, one of the best-selling American bands of all time, is a self-made man. He was born in Israel, moved to Queens with his mother, and started a group that would end up compiling 28 gold records over the years.
Simmons wants the same path for his two kids, Nick and Sophie. He told CNBC several years ago: “…in terms of an inheritance and stuff, they’re gonna be taken care of, but they will never be rich off my money. Because every year they should be forced to get up out of bed, and go out and work and make their own way.”
So the $300 million bucks that belong to Simmons will be headed somewhere else upon his death.
5. Australian iron magnate Gina Rinehart
Rinehart — the richest woman in Australia — wants to cut her children out of their inheritance.
She herself inherited her company and fortune from her father, Lang Hancock, and her children were also named in his estate.
But court documents in the Australian media show that Rinehart doesn’t believe her four kids are fit to manage the family fortune.
“None of the plaintiffs has the requisite capacity or skill, nor the knowledge, experience, judgment or responsible work ethic to administer a trust in the nature of the trust in particular as part of the growing HPPL Group,” she once claimed in court papers.
6. Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates
Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world. But he and his wife Melinda aren’t interested in keeping their money for themselves, or for their three children.
“I knew I didn’t think it was a good idea to give the money to my kids. That wouldn’t be good either for my kids or society,” he told The Sun in 2010.
Instead, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 1994, and today has assets of over $37 billion. The Foundation even started “The Giving Pledge,” which invites other wealthy individuals to join the Gates’ lead and donate half their money to charity.
7. Actor Jackie Chan
The movie star announced in 2011 that he had decided to give away half his money to charity when he dies. Chan added that he was not planning on leaving his son Jaycee any of the millions of dollars he has made during his film career.
“If he is capable, he can make his own money. If he is not, then he will just be wasting my money,” Channel NewsAsia quoted Chan as saying.
8. Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus
Marcus grew up in Newark, New Jersey to Russian immigrant parents, and went on to start Home Depot. His retail success helped him accumulate $1.5 billion in net worth. His philanthropic efforts include funding the Georgia Aquarium and starting the Marcus Foundation.
Not wanting his kids to inherit large sums of money — for their own good, he told Forbes — Marcus plans on giving the majority of his Home Depot stock to his foundation, which benefits the handicapped and education.
9. Businessman Chuck Feeney
Chuck Feeney is the the co-founder of Duty-Free Shoppers Group (those airport shops), and was one of the world’s billionaires in the late 1980s until he transferred all his wealth to his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, according to Forbes.
Before giving away their inheritance, he also went to great lengths to teach his children the value of saving money, including making his kids chat with their friends on payphones, work during their vacations, and work through college, according to The Daily Mail.
Today, it’s rumored Feeney doesn’t even own a house or a car. He once famously told The New York Times, “I want the last check I write to bounce.”
10. Media mogul Ted Turner
Turner is such a prominent philanthropist that he is as famous for giving away money as he is for making it.
After accumulating his wealth through the founding of media outlets like CNN and TBS, Turner has gone on to give literally billions of dollars to causes like the United Nations Foundation.
Turner has five children from three marriages, but they shouldn’t expect a large endowment once he passes. Whether jokingly or not, Turner was quoted in 2010 as saying he was “almost to the edge of poverty” and just wants enough money to cover funeral expenses when he dies.
11. Hedge fund manager John Arnold
John Arnold may only be 40 years old, but last October he closed his hedge fund, Centaurus Energy, and retired after amassing an estimated wealth of $4 billion over the last 10 years.
Now, Arnold and his wife Laura have dedicated the rest of their lives to giving away that wealth through their foundation to support innovative ideas, instead of to their three children.
“Because of our backgrounds and because of our own experiences, we just don’t believe in dynastic wealth,” said Laura Arnold in an interview posted on givesmart.org.
12. Texas oil and gas magnate T. Boone Pickens
Pickens spent his whole life — from delivering newspapers to taking over Gulf Oil — making money via acquisition. The corporate raider now has a net worth of $1.4 billion because of it.
So it’s no surprise that Pickens isn’t in favor of handing his money over for free, even to his children. Pickens is one of America’s billionaires to take The Giving Pledge, donating at least half of his money to charity.
And when asked about leaving money for his kids, he had this to say: “I’ve long stated that I enjoy making money, and I enjoy giving it away…I’m not a big fan of inherited wealth. It generally does more harm than good.”