History

“I realised that my money would do vastly more good for others than it could for me and decided to make a commitment to donating to the most effective charities I could find. Many people contacted me asking how they could do this as well, and so I set up Giving What We Can.”
- Toby Ord

Giving What We Can was the brainchild of Dr Toby Ord, a research fellow in Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford. In 2009, inspired in large part by the ideas of ethicists like Peter Singer and Thomas Pogge, he decided to commit to donating a large proportion of his income in order to helping the poor in the developing world.

Despite meeting with some scepticism, Toby also found that many of his friends and colleagues (as well as complete strangers) were interested in making a similar commitment. A discussion with Peter Singer regarding our obligation to the global poor inspired him to show people just how much could be achieved by taking the problem seriously.

Toby’s plans really gained momentum when he met Will MacAskill, a fellow researcher at Oxford. Will went on to do a lot of the initial research into cost-effectiveness of charities, while Toby put the organisation together.

Giving What We Can launched as a society in November 2009, and soon grew in status with significant media attention. Within a year 64 people had joined the society, their pledges amounting to $21m. By its third birthday it had 250 members and over $100 million in pledges, with 10 chapters in the UK, the US, Australia and Switzerland.

In the summer of 2012 we took on our first full-time staff, and in early 2013 we became a registered charity in England and Wales. In October 2013 we launched The Giving What We Can Trust, a charitable trust through which members and non-members can easily donate to our recommended charities.

Our aim is to build a community of people united in their commitment to donate at least 10% of their income to the most effective charities in the world. In doing this, we ultimately want to see an end to extreme poverty in this lifetime.

Giving What We Can is extremely grateful for the support provided by the following organisations over the past four years:

  • The Future of Humanity Institute
    The Future of Humanity Institute is the leading research center looking at big-picture questions for human civilization.
  • Balliol College, Oxford
    Balliol is one of the oldest Oxford colleges, with a strong philosophical tradition and a history of radical thought.
  • The Oxford Uehiro Centre
    The Oxford Uehiro Centre encourage and supports debate and deeper reflection on practical ethics.