Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates both to give pledges, but no sign of Warren Buffett or MacKenzie Scott
For the first time in three years, members of the Giving Pledge – a pledge 236 of the world’s super-rich have made to donate at least half of their wealth to charitable causes – came together last week for an in-person retreat at a resort in the town of Ojai, Southern California, two hours northwest of Los Angeles.
Two of the three Giving Pledge founders were there, according to one attendee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the gathering is confidential. Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates hosted opening cocktail attendees at the luxurious Ojai Valley Inn (where rooms currently cost more than $850 a night), acknowledging their 2021 divorce but saying the split hasn’t deterred their commitment to philanthropy. Warren Buffett – who started the Pledge with Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010 – did not make it to the rally, the attendee said, adding that no reason was shared for his absence. Buffett, who turns 92 at the end of August, may have wanted to limit his exposure to people traveling from across the country — and the world — given the resurgence of Covid-19. A spokesperson for Giving Pledge has yet to respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
A total of about 100 people attended the event, including Airbnb co-founder Nate Blecharczyk, oil and banking magnate George Kaiser, Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, former financier Michael Milken, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe Anne Wojcicki and real estate and investment mogul Nicolas Berggruen, according to the attendee who spoke to Forbes. This person said that MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, who has become one of the most active and prolific philanthropists in recent years, donating more than $12.5 billion to hundreds of non-profit organizations, was not present.
Panels were held on multigenerational giving, holistic giving, philanthropy that supports social change and more, the attendee said. Some pledge members shared stories of how they chose which area of philanthropy to focus on. One of the speakers was Amanda Renteria, who worked in politics and government for two decades before being named in 2020 as CEO of Code For America, a nonprofit group that creates digital services for the government – and has been described as “the world’s technological equivalent of the Peace Corp or Teach for America.
Spending time with fellow billionaire philanthropists was energizing, the attendee said. It helps, this person said, because the event focused on “how we can give better.”