Yuri Milner found success in Silicon Valley and has made billions as a technology investor. He is the force behind the groundbreaking fintech firm, DST Global. Reaching for the stars, he has also spearheaded ambitious projects to develop interstellar travel technology and search for extraterrestrial intelligent life.
To give back to the general public and address some of the world’s most urgent issues, Yuri Milner has committed himself to a broad spectrum of philanthropic endeavors. He is the founder of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, which recently committed $100 million to care for Ukrainian refugees in the wake of ongoing Russian military aggression in their home country. Yuri Milner is also a participant in the Giving Pledge, a unique charitable program created by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Melinda French Gates.
The Giving Pledge launched in August 2010, bringing together 40 of the richest people in the United States, who all promised to devote the majority of their wealth to initiatives that work on solutions to pressing social, cultural, and environmental problems. The program is the result of a longstanding dialogue among philanthropists, setting new benchmarks of generosity for the ultra-wealthy. In the words of Bill Gates, “This is about building on a wonderful tradition of philanthropy that will ultimately help the world become a much better place.”
Concentrating on billionaires and people who would be billionaires if they weren’t already donating substantial sums of money as active philanthropists, the Giving Pledge serves as an invitation to make a strong public commitment to charitable giving. By taking the pledge, signatories agree to commit at least half of their wealth to one or more philanthropic efforts, either during their lifetime or after their passing. They can use their wealth to support nonprofits, donor-advised funds (DAFs), and other charitable vehicles. They can also employ collaborative philanthropy and fund their foundations or philanthropic vehicles.
Over the years, the Giving Pledge’s list of distinguished signatories has expanded significantly. Already extensively involved in several different charitable causes, Yuri Milner joined the pledge early, signing with his wife Julia in 2012. The Milners specifically pledged a commitment to donate considerable sums of money in support of important scientific and space research.
“In creating the Giving Pledge, Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates have not just encouraged us to invest in problem-solving,” wrote Yuri and Julia Milner in an official statement. “They have also brought something approaching the scientific method to philanthropy. This means not just giving, but trying to learn from real-world experience and experiment in order to give effectively.”
Although the Giving Pledge originally focused exclusively on billionaires in the United States, the initiative expanded quickly along with news of its positive influence. Philanthropists spanning the globe continue to express enthusiastic interest in the Giving Pledge today. To date, 233 wealthy individuals from 28 different countries have signed the pledge and remain faithful to their promises.
For example, Ric and Brenda Elias have pledged to provide vocational training for underrepresented young adults, improve problematic foster care systems, and support mental health initiatives. Other signatories of the Giving Pledge include Yan Huo, whose Hou Family Foundation works to further general education and the pursuit of knowledge, and Dagmar Dolby, whose Ray and Dagmar Family Fund supports efforts to defend reproductive rights and promote brain health through clinical mood disorder and Alzheimer’s disease research.