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Some of our members decide to give more than 10% of their income to their chosen aid organizations. In addition to the Pledge to Give some take the Further Pledge. This is a serious commitment and it is important to think carefully before taking it. Here are some things to think about, if you have any questions and can’t find the answer here please
The Further Pledge
I recognise that I can use part of my income to do a significant amount of good in the developing world. Since I can live well enough on a smaller income, I pledge that from today until the day I retire, I shall give everything I earn above a fixed baseline to whichever organizations can most effectively use it to help people in developing countries. I make this pledge freely, openly, and without regret.
- Which organisations are most effective?
- What baseline should I choose?
- What about tax?
- What about inflation?
- What about children and other dependents?
- What expenses are best not to count?
By making the pledge you commit to giving your donations to the charity or charities that you think can best use it to eliminate suffering in the developing world. Some charities aim to do this directly, through medical or food aid; some do so indirectly by fighting the root causes of poverty via education or local governance; some do so at an even higher level by lobbying for fairer trade or more foreign aid. You are free to support charities operating at any level, so long as you sincerely believe that the chosen charity offers the most effective way of eliminating the hardships of life in extreme poverty.
The difference in the amount of good that charities can achieve for a given donation is staggering: some medical interventions are known to be more than 1,000 times as efficient as others.
This depends upon your circumstances. But before you decide on a figure it is important to seriously consider how much money to choose to live on. If you choose to live on too large an amount you will end up giving less and helping far fewer people than you could otherwise. You may want to consider our research on happiness and giving. Your income may well have a less important effect on your happiness than you expect.
This calculator can show you the effect of choosing various baselines for comparison.
Experts on global health measure the burden of a disease in terms of Disability Adjusted Life Years (or DALYs) which is the number of years of healthy life lost due to premature death or disability (see more information on DALYs). The most effective health interventions cost only $3 for each DALY prevented (see our page on neglected tropical diseases). (Close footnote)
Treating children for neglected tropical diseases produces an extra year of school attendance for each $3 (see the J-PAL study, but note that this doesn't include the possible need for extra teachers if more class members turn up). Amazingly, this is the same intervention as the one above, so $3 can produce a year of school attendance and prevent a disability adjusted life-year worth of ill-health. (Close footnote)
You must take tax into account when going from a base-rate to live on to your total donation. As an example, for someone to end up with exactly $20,000 for herself she would actually have to give away everything above $22,176 (assuming she lives in the US). She would then pay exactly $2,176 in tax, leaving her with the correct amount of money. This is tricky to work out by hand, but we provide a simple web form to calculate it for anyone who is interested.
If we didn't adjust for inflation, then the baseline would get smaller each year in real terms. The number of dollars thus needs to be increased in line with inflation, so as to keep the value of the baseline constant.
Some people have children or elderly relatives to support. If so you should determine a budget for such support each year (for instance, based on the median cost of support in your country), but such costs don't count towards your own living allowance.
There are expenses which it is best not to count towards your personal limit. These include essential work expenses (like a compulsory training course or uniform), educational expenses, and payments on pre-existing debts. It would either be unfair or counterproductive to count these. Of course you can't put everything on this list and it has to be thought out carefully. We have more details for those who are interested.
If you ask to join Giving What We Can, we will send you a guide that elaborates on the above points, making it easy to see exactly what the Further Pledge involves and to work out whether or not it is for you.
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