Talk about the right kind of peer pressure!

The world of philanthropy got a huge financial boost today as more than 30 American billionaires pledged to give away at least half of their fortunes to charitable causes, signing up to a campaign launched by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

In an unprecedented mass commitment, top figures including New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg, the hotel heir Barron Hilton, CNN media mogul Ted Turner, and the Star Wars director George Lucas lent their names to the "giving pledge", an initiative founded last month to encourage America's richest families to commit money to "society's most pressing problems".

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