Giving What We Can
|Founded at||Oxford, England|
|Headquarters||Trajan House, Mill Street, Oxford, OX2 0DJ, UK|
|6,236 (September 2021)|
|Centre for Effective Altruism|
Giving What We Can (GWWC) is an effective altruism-associated organisation whose members pledge to give at least 10% of their income to effective charities. It was founded at Oxford University in 2009 by moral philosopher Toby Ord.
Giving What We Can was founded as a giving society in 2009 by Toby Ord, an ethics researcher at Oxford, his wife Bernadette Young, a physician in training at the time, and fellow ethicist William MacAskill with the goal of encouraging people to give 10% of their income on a regular basis to alleviate world poverty. This is similar to zakat or tithing but Ord said there was no religious motivation behind it. Ord cited writings from Peter Singer and Thomas Pogge about one's moral duty to give to the poor as inspiration for starting the organisation, and personally planned to give away everything above about $28,000 a year, the median after-tax salary in the U.K. His focus was on effective giving, meaning that he emphasised donations to charities which saved a maximal amount of life per donation amount. GWWC was launched with 23 members. People who joined signed a pledge to give away 10% of their income to any organisation they thought could best address poverty in the developing world, and could pledge more; there was no penalty for quitting. By the end of 2011 it had 177 members, mostly other academics, in five chapters including Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, and Harvard.
By November 2011, the organisation was providing its members regular reports on what charities were most effective at addressing poverty in the developing world, and at that time was recommending a tropical diseases group and a de-worming group that each worked in Africa. Ord relied in part on research conducted by GiveWell, and also used the concept of the quality-adjusted life-year to gauge effectiveness of charities.
In 2011, a sister organisation at Oxford lead by MacAskill and others called "High Impact Careers" was spun off from Giving What We Can. This organisation encouraged people to pursue high-paying jobs so they could give more money away. High Impact Careers was soon renamed to 80,000 Hours. In 2012 the two organisations incorporated the Centre for Effective Altruism as a nonprofit to serve as an umbrella organisation.
In 2017, Giving What We Can stopped conducting original research but rather started to recommend to its members to follow the advice by charity evaluators such as GiveWell, Animal Charity Evaluators and Founders Pledge. Additionally, they recommend a list of individual charities that cover a wide range of causes including global poverty alleviation, animal welfare and the welfare of future generations.
Giving What We Can used to conduct research to determine which charities it would recommend for members and other people to support. It differed from other charity evaluators in terms of the importance given to metrics of charity performance. While evaluators such as Charity Navigator used the fraction of donations spent on program expenses versus administrative overhead as an important indicator, Giving What We Can solely focused on the cost-effectiveness of the charity's work. It believed that the variance in cost-effectiveness of charities arose largely due to the variance in the nature of the causes that the charities operate in, and therefore made evaluations across broad areas of work such as health, education, and emergency aid before comparing specific organisations. In practice, it recommended a selected few charities in the area of global health. Its work was therefore similar to that of GiveWell.
In 2017, the Centre for Effective Altruism stopped conducting original research into giving opportunities based on significant overlap with organisations like GiveWell and the Open Philanthropy Project.
The shared ground of all Giving What We Can members is that they have committed to providing at least 10% of their income by signing "The Pledge". Therefore, members often refer to themselves as "pledges".
The pledge is a voluntary and non-legal commitment to donate 10% of one's income. This figure is the minimum percentage and was chosen because it has a good balance. It is a significant proportion of income, in recognition of the importance of the problem and the need for real action. But it is also within the reach of most people in the developed world. Some members decide to go further and commit to donating 20% or even 50%.
Some members decide to go even further and perform the "Further Pledge".
The Further Pledge
Founder Ord further pledged to donate anything he earned over £20,000 a year, based on his conviction that he could live comfortably and happily on this income. This level of commitment is called "The Further Pledge". The member defines a basic annual income that they expect to live on. All income above this level will be donated to effective measures. Co-founder Will MacAskill is also among those who have made a similar pledge.
Because of the initial hurdle that might suppose to adjust one's attitudes to donating 10% of the income, there is also the possibility of making a temporary commitment called "Try Giving". Making this declaration involves making a commitment to donate at least 1% of one's income for a specified period of time.
In 2020, GWWC launched the option for companies to also declare their commitment to donating to effective organizations. In this case, companies commit to donate at least 10% of their profits to effective charities.
|Year||New members||Accumulated members|
|2021 (as of September)||771||6,236|
Since its inception in 2009 the Giving What We Can Pledge was signed by various prominent individuals, mostly academics:
- Michael Kremer - holder of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, Professor in economics and public policy at the University of Chicago.
- Rachel Glennerster - Chief Economist at the Department for International Development (DFID).
- Thomas Pogge - Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, Director of the Global Justice Program.
- Derek Parfit - Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, visiting professor of philosophy at Harvard University, New York University, and Rutgers University.
- Adam Swift - Professor of Political Theory at University College London.
- Sam Harris - American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, podcast host, and prominent atheist.
- Peter Singer - Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne.
- William MacAskill - Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Oxford.
- Toby Ord - Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute.
- Alan Fenwick - Professor of Tropical Parasitology at the Imperial College London, Founder of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI)
- Liv Boeree - Television presenter and former professional poker player
- Marcus Daniell - Olympic tennis player from New Zealand with 5 ATP titles and founder of the organization High Impact Athletes.
- Janet Radcliffe Richards - Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Oxford.
- Nir Eyal - is a Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Center for Population–Level Bioethics at Rutgers University.
- Sam Bankman-Fried - billionaire and CEO and Founder of crypto-companies FTX and Alameda Research
- Aviva Baumann - American actress.
- Ken Baumann - American actor, writer, publisher and book designer.
- Jonathan Blow - American video game designer, programmer and Twitch streamer.
- John Bohannon - American science journalist and scientist who is Director of Science at Primer, an artificial intelligence company.
- Rutger Bregman - Dutch popular historian and author of four books on history, philosophy, and economics, including Utopia for Realists.
- Ben Delo - British mathematician, computer programmer, and entrepreneur, co-founder of BitMEX.
- Diana Fleischman - American evolutionary psychologist and senior lecturer at University of Portsmouth.
- Bruce Friedrich - Executive director of The Good Food Institute, a non-profit that received donation funding from Y Combinator.
- Clare Gallagher - American ultrarunner.
- José González - Swedish indie folk singer-songwriter and guitarist.
- Amelia Gray - American writer.
- A. J. Jacobs - American journalist, author, and lecturer best known for writing about his lifestyle experiments.
- Ben Lester - British recording artist and multi-instrumentalist.
- Dylan Matthews - American journalist, correspondent for Vox.
- Kelsey Piper - American journalist and staff writer at Vox.
- Leah Price - American literary critic.
- Pilvi Takala - Finnish award-winning performance artist.
- Derek Thompson - American journalist and staff writer at The Atlantic.
- Eva Vivalt - Canadian economist, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto and the founder of research institute AidGrade.
- Michael Greger - American physician, author, and professional speaker on public health issues and advocate for plant-based diets.
- "List of Giving What We Can Pledge Members". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
- "About us". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
- MacFarquhar, Larissa (22 September 2015). "Extreme altruism: should you care for strangers at the expense of your family?". The Guardian.
- Singer, Peter (2015). The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas about Living Ethically. Yale University Press. p. 18. ISBN 9780300180275.
- "Academic pledges to give away £1m". BBC. 14 November 2009.
- "Editorial: Unthinkable? Giving 10%". The Guardian. 6 January 2012.
- Richard Woods (15 November 2009). "Take My Money, I Don't Want It". The Sunday Times.
- Gill, Martha (8 January 2013). "The man who gives away a third of his income. Would you give up a luxury to save a life?". New Statesman.
- Espinoza, Javier (28 November 2011). "Small Sacrifice, Big Return". Wall Street Journal.
- Geoghegan, Tom (13 December 2010). "Toby Ord: Why I'm giving £1m to charity". BBC News.
- Rustin, Susanna (23 December 2011). "The Saturday interview: Toby Ord and Bernadette Young on the joy of giving". The Guardian.
- Mathieson, S. A. (11 June 2013). "How charity evaluators are changing the donations landscape". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
- Rosenberg, Tina (5 December 2012). "Putting Charities to the Test". Opinionator. The New York Times. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
- Younis, Musab (24 November 2011). "Helping the poor…by getting rich: ingenious or delusional?". Ceasefire Magazine.
- Cutterham, Tom (May 2012). "The Ethical Careers Debate" (PDF). Oxford Left Review (7): 4.
- Hamlett, Claire (July–August 2012). "The Philosophy of Giving". Philosophy Now (91).
- Shade, Robbie (22 November 2011). "80,000 Hours is launched!". Archived from the original on 18 March 2017.
- "Centre for Effective Altruism". UK Companies House. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
- "What are the best charities to donate to in 2021?". www.givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
- "CEA's strategic update for February 2017 - EA Forum". forum.effectivealtruism.org. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
- "Charities in the ethical spotlight". www.ethicalconsumer.org. Ethical Consumer. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
- "How We Assess Charities". Giving What We Can. Archived from the original on 3 July 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
- "Why 10%?". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- "Further Pledge". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- "Try Giving". givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- "Company members". givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- Hellen, Nicholas (9 December 2012). "Oxford don sparks flood of charity cash". The Sunday Times.
- "5,000 people have pledged to give at least 10% of their lifetime incomes to effective charities". 27 September 2020.
- "Members". www.givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
- "WHO | Professor Alan Fenwick". WHO. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
- "New Zealand's Marcus Daniell is giving back to the game". Tennis.com.
- "I Just Pledged to Donate 10% For the Rest of My Life". High Impact Athletes.
- "Profile of Janet Radcliffe-Richards".
- "Rutgers profile page for Dr. Nir Eyal".
- "Sam Bankman-Fried". Forbes. Retrieved 3 May 2021.