Since 2014, I’ve donated one-tenth of my salary/income to end poverty. I do so alongside thousands of other folks, having pledged to via Giving What We Can.
It’s that time of year again… when we all donate some cash.
The best thing you could probably do with your life in 2020 is to take the Giving What We Can pledge: to choose to spend 10% of your salary to do the most good you can.
If, like me, you want to be good, but are also lazy, then the people at Effective Altruism (EA) Funds are here to help. You visit their website, play with some sliders as to what you think is most important, donate, and then, voila, they parcel it out to the most effective organisations.
You’re supposed to be public about it, pour encourager les autres. So in the last calendar year I earned £30,000 and am donating £3,000: 95% will go to global health and development organisations (mostly to fight malaria) and 5% to support the work of EA Funds.
If you’re like me, then you also donate to climate charities, cos it’s not clear where that falls in the EA work. I’ve given to 350.org every year for a few years and it seems to have worked pretty well. Last year I also donated several times to support the narrative-flipping, game-changing activism of XR. And I’ve just made a donation to Trees for Life, because their website is beautiful and it seems like planting a few trees is wise* to cover all bases.
*Particularly if you’ve not taken the FlightFree2020 pledge. Which you should.
Until next year! (Unless we’ve solved poverty and inequality by then… Or Jeff Bezos has finally stepped up)
Whoops, I’ve not blogged about anything since last year’s donations. Must try harder .
In the meantime, here’s a belated new year’s donation update: over 2018, I earned £30k and so am donating £3k to the global health and development fund run by Effective Altruism Funds. Thanks to them for doing the ongoing research work to make my money work harder.
I’ve lost the bit of their website where it tells you where your money’s gone, but assume it’s going towards malaria nets, deworming and anti-bilharzia/schistosomiasis stuff. Possibly child nutrition too, not sure.
I also need to sort out payroll giving so that this happens monthly rather than in a terrifying blob at the end of the year.
Over the past year, I’ve worried more about climate change / the anthropocene and its coming effects on health and humanity — but it’s hard to work out where to be useful here, apart from preventing harm (lower your environmental footprint) and lobby lobby lobby for systemic change. Previously I’ve donated to Cool Earth and 350.org, but the former took a bit of a beating in this useful blog post, and I like the urgency of the Extinction Rebellion folks, so they’ll get a donation this year. (Not included in the 10% to the ‘most effective’, which is the original pledge.) I need to read this document by ‘Founders’ Pledge’ on climate change, and see what other research into effective mitigation/adaptation is out there.
This is all inspired by the work of Giving What We Can, which is a good place to start learning about — and trying out — charitable giving.
None of this negates the need to do political stuff too!
Scarlet (?) macaws by Alan Godfrey (Unsplash)
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.
In 2016, dead people were in the news a lot. It’s likely that some people will also die in 2017. Some of these people will be famous. But many of them won’t be. Many of them will suffer from easily preventable causes. Let’s focus on those folks for a minute.
It’s about this time of year that in a moderately hungover fashion, I cast my mind back and ponder what I have achieved in the last 12 months.
In my day job and as a volunteer, I work at trying to increase public participation in governance.
And I do ultimately think that a more democratic system of governance – across political deliberation, decision making and across public services, coupled with citizenship education and better informed citizens – is the kind of systemic change required to solve the big problems.
I’m aware that this systemic shift might take a while.
In the meantime, it makes me happy to think that each of us still has the capacity to be extremely effective in making the world a better place. That is, increasing the net wellbeing of everyone on the planet.
There are now nearly 1,500 members of Giving What We Can, the network of folks who donate a significant proportion of their salary to do as much good as they can. This is typically realised as donations to low-cost high-impact health interventions. So far, the membership has donated $10m, and is projected to give $500m over members’ lifetimes.
For me, in 2015, I earned £35,000 (before tax). I’m donating £3,500 to their trust, which in turn passes the money to four charities:
- Against Malaria Foundation
- Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
- Deworm the World
- Project Healthy Children
According to the number-crunchers this should be enough to:
- distribute 600+ bed nets to prevent malaria; or
- 3,000+ deworming treatments
…the equivalent to saving at least one life this year.
That’s a Happy New Year.
(Photo credit: BY-NC-ND 2.0 Paul Brock Photography)