As Bill Gates announced his donation of $750 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Americans started looking at how other wealthy people are donating their money. One wealthy person in particular who is being scrutinized for his giving is Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney finally released his tax returns, and Americans not only got to see how much money he makes and how little he pays in taxes, they also got to see how much money he gives away. Although he does give away about 15% of his money each year, most of the donations go to the Mormon Church. In general, the public is not impressed. Don’t worry, though, voters are not impressed with Gingrich’s giving either. Although he makes much less than Romney, he still reports his income in the millions, not the thousands like many other Americans. Gingrich, like Romney, gives money to things most Americans would not be impressed with. As the two candidates continue to try to sway voters to their side, they may want to start looking to Bill Gates for some lessons on charitable giving.
Gates and Warren Buffet have done a great job of giving away their fortunes and living modest lifestyles. Buffet does not live in a fancy mansion or drive a high-class vehicle. He looks to others’ ideas when deciding which organizations will get his charitable donations. Gates makes his children do chores and plans on making them work to earn their money; no big inheritance planned there. Both Gates and Buffet have worked together to try to convince America’s wealthy to give away half of all their wealth over their lifetime. The giving that Buffet and Gates are encouraging relate to giving money to causes that the world, or a at least a large majority, benefit from. If you look at where the charitable donations of Romney and Gingrich are going, it’s not to global efforts. This is why voters are not liking what they are seeing.
American voters need to find a way to connect with the candidates. With so many people struggling financially, they are having a hard time getting behind anyone who has never had to struggle to pay bills or buy groceries. If the candidates would follow the giving practices of Gates, maybe America could feel connected to them in a different way. They could see that they are compassionate and care about others. Donating money to the choir your wife sings in or the church you attend every week doesn’t show voters that you have a concern for the world as a whole. This could hurt either candidate down the road because Obama’s giving habits look better. He donated all of his 2009 Nobel Prize money, and in 2010, he donated thousands of dollars to more than twelve organizations, some local and some global. This is the type of giving that Gates and Buffet would probably applaud. More importantly it’s the type of giving most voters would be happy to see. It is said actions speak louder than words, so maybe the unselfish action of giving to others is just the thing Obama needs to get Americans to commit to another four years.