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Giving What We Can

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Giving What We Can
Formation2009; 15 years ago (2009)
Founded atOxford, England
Registration no.1149828
PurposePromoting effective giving
HeadquartersTrajan House, Mill Street, Oxford, OX2 0DJ, UK
Membership (2024)
Toby Ord
Parent organisation
Effective Ventures

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.[1] It was founded at Oxford University in 2009 by the philosopher Toby Ord, physician-in-training Bernadette Young (Ord's wife), and fellow philosopher William MacAskill.[2]


Toby Ord is one of the founders of Giving What We Can.

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[3][4][2] with the goal of encouraging people to give at least 10% of their income on a regular basis to alleviate world poverty.[5] This is similar to Ma'aser kesafim (giving 10% of income) in Jewish tradition and zakat[6] in Islam, but Ord said there was no religious motivation behind it.[7] 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,[8] and personally planned to give away everything above about $28,000 a year, the median after-tax salary in the U.K.[9] His focus was on effective giving, meaning that he emphasised donations to charities which saved a maximal amount of life per donation amount.[10] GWWC was launched with 23 members.[9] 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.[7] By the end of 2011 it had 177 members, mostly other academics, in five chapters including Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, and Harvard.[9][11]

By November 2011, the organisation was providing its members regular reports on what charities were most effective at addressing poverty in the developing world,[9] and at that time was recommending a tropical diseases group and a de-worming group that each worked in Africa.[12] 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.[13]

In 2011, a sister organisation at Oxford led 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.[14][15][16] High Impact Careers was soon renamed to 80,000 Hours.[17] In 2012 the two organisations incorporated the Centre for Effective Altruism as a nonprofit to serve as an umbrella organisation.[4][18]

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.[19][20] 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.[19]



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.[13][21] 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.[22] In practice, it recommended a selected few charities in the area of global health. Its work was therefore similar to that of GiveWell.[12] 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.[20]



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 10% Pledge". Therefore, members often refer to themselves as "pledges".

The 10% Pledge


The 10% pledge is a voluntary and non-legal commitment to donate 10% or more of one's income.[23] 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%.[24]

Some members decide to go even further and perform the "Further Pledge".

The Further Pledge


Founder Toby 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.[25] Co-founder Will MacAskill is also among those who have made a similar pledge.[26]

Try Giving


Because some people may be interested in GWWC but not yet ready to take the pledge, it is also possible to make a temporary commitment called "Try Giving". This involves making a commitment to donate at least 1% of one's income for a specified period of time.[27]



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 net profits to effective charities. By 2024, 49 companies had signed up.[28]



By 2012 the group had 264 people from 17 countries.[29] It surpassed 1,000 members in 2015[3] and 5,000 members in 2020.[30]

Year New members Accumulated members[31]
2009 31 31
2010 36 67
2011 98 165
2012 100 265
2013 116 381
2014 396 777
2015 678 1,455
2016 968 2,423
2017 909 3,332
2018 606 3,938
2019 522 4,460
2020 1,005 5,465
2021 1,125 6,590
2022 1,390 7,980
2024 1,003 8,983

Prominent members

Professor Peter Singer has been a member of Giving What We Can since its foundation.

Since its inception in 2009 the Giving What We Can Pledge was signed by various prominent individuals, mostly academics:[32][unreliable source?]


  1. ^ "About us". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Transparency". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 18 May 2024.
  3. ^ a b MacFarquhar, Larissa (22 September 2015). "Extreme altruism: should you care for strangers at the expense of your family?". The Guardian.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ "Academic pledges to give away £1m". BBC. 14 November 2009.
  6. ^ "Editorial: Unthinkable? Giving 10%". The Guardian. 6 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b Richard Woods (15 November 2009). "Take My Money, I Don't Want It". The Sunday Times.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b c d Espinoza, Javier (28 November 2011). "Small Sacrifice, Big Return". Wall Street Journal.
  10. ^ Geoghegan, Tom (13 December 2010). "Toby Ord: Why I'm giving £1m to charity". BBC News.
  11. ^ Rustin, Susanna (23 December 2011). "The Saturday interview: Toby Ord and Bernadette Young on the joy of giving". The Guardian.
  12. ^ a b 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.
  13. ^ a b Rosenberg, Tina (5 December 2012). "Putting Charities to the Test". Opinionator. The New York Times. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  14. ^ Younis, Musab (24 November 2011). "Helping the poor…by getting rich: ingenious or delusional?". Ceasefire Magazine.
  15. ^ Cutterham, Tom (May 2012). "The Ethical Careers Debate" (PDF). Oxford Left Review (7): 4.
  16. ^ Hamlett, Claire (July–August 2012). "The Philosophy of Giving". Philosophy Now (91).
  17. ^ Shade, Robbie (22 November 2011). "80,000 Hours is launched!". Archived from the original on 18 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Centre for Effective Altruism". UK Companies House. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  19. ^ a b "What are the best charities to donate to in 2021?". www.givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  20. ^ a b "CEA's strategic update for February 2017 – EA Forum". forum.effectivealtruism.org. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Charities in the ethical spotlight". www.ethicalconsumer.org. Ethical Consumer. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  22. ^ "How We Assess Charities". Giving What We Can. Archived from the original on 3 July 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  23. ^ "We're renaming the Giving What We Can Pledge". www.givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 12 July 2024.
  24. ^ "Why 10%?". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  25. ^ "Further Pledge". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  26. ^ Bajekal, Naina (10 August 2022). "Inside the Growing Movement to Do the Most Good Possible". Time. Retrieved 18 May 2024.
  27. ^ "Try Giving". givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  28. ^ "Company members". givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  29. ^ Hellen, Nicholas (9 December 2012). "Oxford don sparks flood of charity cash". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2013.
  30. ^ "5,000 people have pledged to give at least 10% of their lifetime incomes to effective charities". 27 September 2020.
  31. ^ "List of Giving What We Can Pledge Members". Giving What We Can. Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  32. ^ "Members". www.givingwhatwecan.org. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  33. ^ "WHO | Professor Alan Fenwick". WHO. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  34. ^ "Chris Anderson talking about his pledge on X". Twitter. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  35. ^ "Dustin Moskovitz sharing his pledge on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 10 April 2023.
  36. ^ "Profile of Janet Radcliffe-Richards".
  37. ^ "New Zealand's Marcus Daniell is giving back to the game". Tennis.com.
  38. ^ "I Just Pledged to Donate 10% For the Rest of My Life". High Impact Athletes.[permanent dead link]
  39. ^ "Rutgers profile page for Dr. Nir Eyal".
  40. ^ Hagerty, James R.; McMillan, Robert (9 September 2022). "Peter Eckersley Helped Encrypt Internet Traffic to Foil Snoops". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 10 September 2022.