The Giving Pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.
Each person who chooses to pledge will make this statement publicly, along with a letter explaining their decision to pledge. At an annual event, those who take the pledge will come together to share ideas and learn from each other.
The Pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract. It does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations.
While the Giving Pledge is specifically focused on billionaires, the idea takes its inspiration from efforts in the past and at present that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds. We are inspired by the example set by millions of Americans who give generously (and often at great personal sacrifice) to make the world a better place.
The following letter was sent by the Tow’s to acknowledge their commitment to the Giving Pledge.
Thank you for your invitation to join with you and Warren and the other eighty in your philanthropy pledge.
Claire and I never believed that the wealth we accumulated was truly ours. From the beginning we believed that we were only lifetime stewards of our good fortune and were charged with redeploying it for useful societal purpose. After many years of check-writing in response to appeals for help, we concluded that we could better maximize the impact of our giving by focusing our philanthropy geographically and in activities where we could make a difference. In 1988, we organized The Tow Foundation and staffed it professionally. We narrowed our focus of interest to the tri-state New York Metropolitan area and within it to concentrate our investments in four areas of interest: Medical Research and Care, Disadvantaged Youth and the Juvenile Justice System, Cultural Institutions and the Performing Arts and Programs at Institutions of Higher Learning in need of funding.
After allocating a small portion of our estate to our children and grandchildren, it is our intent to distribute as much as we can find reasonable purpose for during our lifetimes, with the remainder to go to the Foundation to continue to pursue the above described purposes.
We are pleased to join with you and Warren in this pledge to give back what we have been so fortunate to accumulate.
Claire and Leonard Tow