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How We Can Help
Global poverty is too large a problem for any one person to solve, but each of us can still transform the lives of hundreds of people. While it is difficult to help directly, we must not forget our most important advantage: on a world scale, we are very rich. We can thus pay for efficient services in health and education which, though desperately desired, are out of the reach of those in poverty. If the typical US citizen gave 10% of their income to the right NGOs, then each year they could:1
The median personal income in the US is $35,500 (US Census 2008). Ten percent of this is $3,550.
- Distribute 700 mosquito nets, preventing 190 cases of malaria and 2.2 deaths
- Treat 7100 people for neglected tropical diseases.
Read through that list again and consider that we could each achieve one of these great benefits every single year. Read it through and try to imagine the scale of those numbers: to see the individual names and faces in your mind. Pick out one of these individuals and try to imagine the huge effect this will have on his or her life. It is just staggering. In a single week we can perform something like a miracle: saving a life, or restoring sight to the blind. Over our lives, we can each perform thousands of these ‘miracles’, leaving behind a remarkable legacy. Moreover, we can do all of this without leaving our countries, without leaving our preferred jobs, and without even giving up any parts of our lives that are truly important to us.
We clearly have a duty to do at least this much. We can do something of extreme moral importance without sacrificing anything of comparative value. How could we look these people in the eye and justify our failure to give even such a small amount? Isn't this the least we could do?
Many people flee from these facts and try hard to forget them, but we needn't do so. Instead, we can embrace the facts and simply decide to give generously. This is what the members of Giving What We Can have done. We've each made a public pledge to give at least 10% of our incomes to where we believe it will do the most to fight poverty. Whatever our incomes, we will all have a tremendous effect on thousands of lives. We don't seek any praise for this as it seems to us to be the least we could do. What we do want is for others to join us in this endeavour: to share advice on the most effective ways to help, and to give what we can.
Next: Our Pledge
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