The Giving Pledge, the charitable initiative begun by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, announced yesterday that 11 new billionaires have signed on to donate at least half their wealth to charity. Included in this most recent group, longtime philanthropist and Chairman of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, Charles R. Bronfman. He is among 92 other philanthropists – including his brother, Edgar – who have committed to the Giving Pledge to date.
Bronfman told eJP, “Philanthropy is in the DNA of my family. Doing what we can to repair the world was instilled in me from an early age. I will never forget my siblings and me knitting squares for blankets to be sent to the troops during World War Two. This was an inspiration from my mother. It’s no surprise then, that each of us has tried to contribute to society in our own way.
“I congratulate the Gates’ and Warren Buffett on a brilliant initiative that serves to elevate philanthropy in the national consciousness, and inspire others – whatever their means – to address social issues through charitable contributions. I am more than pleased to join with those who have or will become part of the Giving Pledge.”
Bronfman has spent much of his life as an active businessman, including 50 years at The Seagram Company, Ltd., a family-owned enterprise. For 22 years, he was Chairman and principal owner of Major League Baseball’s Montreal Expos.
Since 1986, he has been Chairman of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, a group of charitable foundations operating in the United States, Canada and Israel, and committed to encouraging young people to strengthen their knowledge and appreciation of their history, heritage and cultural identity.
Over the last 26 years, ACBP has disbursed nearly $323 million to approximately 1,700 grantees and operating programs.
In Israel, ACBP has driven the Karev Program for Educational Involvement, a nationwide educational initiative reaching over 250,000 youngsters in kindergartens and elementary schools. The project ensures longer school hours and exposure to informal and supplementary educational programming – such as music and theater – that would not exist otherwise.
In an open letter to the philanthropic community last year, Bronfman announced his intention to spend down ACBP assets by 2016 in order to give his children the latitude to pursue philanthropic interests through their own existing foundations. He will, however, continue with his personal philanthropy outside of ACBP.
The Giving Pledge announcement comes one week before publication of The Art of Doing Good (Jossey Bass, 2012), by Bronfman and ACBP President Jeffrey Solomon. In it, they focus on 18 social entrepreneurs and draw lessons from each as to what it takes for an individual to transform a vision for a better world into reality.