December 20, 2006

Big Charity

An interesting observation in the New York Times: Of the top four charitable givers in United States history, three were or are nonbelievers (self-described atheists or agnostics): Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Andrew Carnegie. The fourth is John D. Rockefeller, who was a Baptist. According to the Times' contributor, Buffett’s recent charitable activity — which, including pledges, total about $37 billion — are more than double that of Carnegie and Rockefeller combined, even after accounting for inflation.

I was not aware of this. I have not done any kind of fact-checking to verify if this is true (particularly the math of the present-day value of Carnegie and Rockefeller's remarkable charitable donations). There are other ways to measure a particular group's participation in charity; clearly, religious folks give to charity, too.

It may well be that a higher percentage of religious folks give to charity than non-religious folks; or perhaps they give more regularly; or perhaps not. The article does not really say. All the same, it's an interesting observation.

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