In 2013, I took the Giving What We Can pledge.
It states that I’ll give 10% of my income to effective charities working to reduce global poverty.
- 717 long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets distributed via the Against Malaria Foundation;
- 3,023 neglected tropical disease treatments provided by the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative;
- 4,762 neglected tropical disease treatments provided by Deworm the World; and
- an unspecified amount of micronutrients given to kids via Project Healthy Children.
So, the theory goes, I’ve saved the lives of a few children. Hurray!
I earned £27,300 in 2017, so I’m about to donate another £2,730.
I’ve previously given to the Giving What We Can Trust, using the MyGiving thing, which handily totted up the impact of my donations. Giving What We Can both was a membership thing to encourage people to give, and also an evaluator, which recommended the most effective charities. They’ve now given up the latter bit, because they think GiveWell can do it better. And they’ve closed the Trust, or merged it into something called EA Funds. (The EA stands for Effective Altruism, the name given to the movement for more effective (or more measurable, winky-face) giving).
So now the money is going to EA Funds — which is quite cool, check it out below, you get sliders and everything — and I’m giving 95% to “Global Development” and 5% to “EA Community”, which aims to grow the number of people giving significantly.
Each of those funds has a ‘fund manager’ (all white men…) who determines where the cash goes. I’d be a bit more comfortable if there was some kind of panel rather than a sole individual, but hey ho, I’m already late with the donations. I’ve known these folks for a while, so I can assume they’ve thought about transparency and accountability and all that important stuff.
At the moment it looks like all the Global Development Fund goes to the Against Malaria Foundation, which means more bed nets, yay! But sadly the new EA Funds thing doesn’t tell you how many nets / drugs / etc you’re getting for your money. And it’s lost my tally from previous years, which is sad.
The other thing that’s a bit sad is that I still have no sense of the value of political or advocacy projects, which are obviously much harder to measure, but could be extremely effective. I’d love to read more from GiveWell or the EA community on the ROI of a donation to a campaign for Universal Health Coverage, for example, or a campaign to get other rich countries to reach their 0.7% aid/development target. These could see huge returns for a small outlay. Similarly, there doesn’t seem to be anything new in EA-land on climate change mitigation or adaptation. (I’ve not thoroughly trawled the websites — I’m not totally sure where I’m supposed to be looking for this stuff any more!) Perhaps I should use some of the pledge money to pay someone to do research into this area…
For 2018, I’m trying to sort out Payroll Giving for staff at Democracy Club, so that giving becomes easier. If you know of a good Payroll Giving agency, please get in touch. For the moment, I’ll probably send the monthly cash to the same fund, but again, let me know if you’ve other/better ideas for it.
And do please try out giving — you can have an extraordinary effect without needing to be some kind of philanthropist person. If 10% seems a lot, then The Life You Can Save offers a range of pledges — starting at just 1%. Bargain.