What Should We Make of the Giving Pledge?

from The New York Times:

Pledging Fortunes Takes Extra Effort in Shaky Recovery

Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates gave billionaires a jolt of positive publicity last week with the unveiling of the Giving Pledge – a promise by 40 individuals and couples to donate at least half of their fortunes to charity. Their commitments were outlined in individual letters explaining their reasons.

The group’s very public pledge raised several questions, not least about its timing. This is an economic environment in which wealthy donors have grown leery of long-term philanthropic promises. You only have to look at this week’s stock market gyrations to understand why someone might not want to commit.