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The Give More Tomorrow Pledge: Details
The Give More Tomorrow Pledge can be interpreted in several ways, so we offer some clarifications.
Membership and pledges
Giving What We Can is based around a pledge to donate at least 10% of your income to wherever you think it can do the most to help those living in extreme poverty. For this reason, those who take the Give More Tomorrow Pledge are not officially considered members until they eventually take the Pledge to Give (the 10% pledge) also, at which point the Give More Tomorrow Pledge will become effectively redundant. Those who take just the Give More Tomorrow Pledge are still welcomed into our community; for example, they are given access to our members’ private forum. You are also welcome to re-take the Give More Tomorrow Pledge at a later date with a lower baseline.
Giving and taxation
By income, we mean just your salary or wages, prior to income tax being deducted. Thus, if you earn $30,000 in a year before tax, you would be required to give $3,000 or the difference between $30,000 and your baseline. Depending on your country and choice of charity, you may well get a form of tax deduction for your giving (in the UK this takes the form of Gift Aid or Payroll Giving). Thus, the real cost of giving, say, 10% may be less than it first appears. This is fine. What counts is that the charity receives an amount equal to 10% of your income, or your income minus your baseline figure. Of course you are more than welcome to instead make a correspondingly larger donation so that you end up paying the full amount specified by the pledge out of your own pocket and the government's assistance effectively goes to the charity. Note that we don’t officially include interest or capital gains as income.
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.
What about when I retire?
The pledge only commits people to give until they retire. People who have retired since taking the pledge remain valued parts of our community, though they are no longer required to give.
The nature of the commitment
The pledge is not a contract and is not legally binding. It is, however, a public declaration of lasting commitment to the cause. It is a promise, or oath, to be made seriously and with every expectation of keeping it.
The choice of charities
By making the pledge you commit to giving your donations to the charity or charities that you think can best use your money 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 10,000 times as efficient as others. By focusing our attention on the charities that have proven themselves to be most effective, we can achieve much more with our donations and also encourage the charities themselves to put more effort into research on how effective their methods are. Efficiency sounds boring, but it is the difference between saving a life and saving 10,000 lives — the difference between saving a life just once and saving a life every single day throughout your career.
Though it is very difficult to know for certain which charities are the most efficient, Giving What We Can helps by providing the best figures and discussion available, then leaving the final choice to you. While you may never be able to find the very best charity in the world, you will be confident that your choice is in the top tier.
We do not require any proof of the effectiveness of the charities you support (though they must at least be focused on improving the lives of those in developing countries), but we do hope that you will really try to think about effectiveness and be prepared to change who you give to if evidence suggests you can thereby achieve more.
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