Frequently asked questions

We get asked a lot of questions about what we do. Here are answers to some of the most common ones.

Giving Effectively

But giving doesn’t really work, does it?

Actually, by giving to the effective charities you can do an incredible amount of good. Have a look at our page on Myths and Misconceptions About Charity which addresses most of the common misunderstandings.

​​We believe that by understanding the myths behind common objections to charitable giving can help prevent the spread of misinformation and inspire more people to use their resources effectively to improve the world.

Why should I give to effective charities?

There are many reasons to give to effective charities. We cover 10 reasons in our blog post "Why should we donate to the most effective charities?". These include:

1. We want to do good, not harm.

2. We have limited resources.

3. Charity effectiveness varies significantly.

4. Charity is about helping others.

5. Helping more is better than helping less.

6. Our decisions carry implicit moral judgements.

7. We care about effectiveness elsewhere.

8. We expect effectiveness from others.

9. Supporting effective charities creates a virtuous cycle.

10. Giving effectively just makes sense.

But don't we have to do more than just throw money at the problem?

Yes, absolutely. Giving What We Can emphasises that we must do more than just give: we must give effectively. We need to look at the data and donate our money carefully. It can be the difference between saving a life and saving 1,000 lives.

We are also not saying that donating is all that can be done. For example, we encourage people to think about how they can use their career to have a positive impact, and regularly point to 80,000 Hours' work to help them do this. We're also aware that political change could have an incredible effect; for example, one of our recommended approaches to addressing climate change involves policy leadership.

We can pursue both avenues – systemic change and effective giving – at the same time.

What difference does my giving make?

It's important to remember that even a small donation can make a difference if it's given to the right charity. For example, it costs roughly $5 for Against Malaria Foundation to supply one bednet that protects two people for 2-3 years. So, even if you can only afford to give a small amount of money, your donation can still have a big impact.

However, the impact can vary wildly depending on where you donate. The best charities can be at least ten times better than a typical charity within the same area, hundreds of times better than poor-performing charities, and the worst charities can do harm.

You can learn more by reading these articles:

Why give now, rather than later in life or in my will?

There are a number of reasons to give while you earn, rather than leaving it until later:

  • It is all too easy to put off giving and never quite get around to doing so. Giving while you earn is a way to seize the bull by the horns.
  • If you give while you are still earning, your gifts are tax deductible. This means that the government effectively gives more to the same cause. This is not applicable if you wait until you have finished earning.
  • The money you give has long term benefits to the causes which receive it. Curing someone of disease today means that they will be able to contribute much more to their society and its economy from now on, increasing the effectiveness of your donation. In effect, donating earlier does more good more quickly than donating later.
  • If you give as you earn and join Giving What We Can, you can contribute to a larger movement towards effective giving. This will help foster a culture of giving.

We often encourage people to both give now and to also leave a bequest to charity in their will.

Should I give regularly recurring donations or one-off (e.g. yearly)?

Considerations in favour of recurring donations

  • Allows us to more accurately predict future donations and pass this information on to the fund managers and charities so that they know how much money they are likely to have available in the future.
  • Most donors who do not donate monthly choose to donate at the end of the year. Having money available throughout the year allows fund managers and charities more flexibility to respond to excellent opportunities as they become available.
  • Many donors find it easier to hit their donation targets if the money is donated automatically.

Considerations in favour of yearly donations

  • Allows donors time to gain more information and decide on the most effective donation option.
  • Donors who receive large yearly bonuses will have more information about how much they can donate if they donate yearly.

In general, we prefer that most donors who plan to use Giving What We Can for a large portion of their donations set up recurring donations. Donors who may have higher impact alternatives or who receive large yearly bonuses should consider yearly donations instead (or as well).

How much should I give to effective charities?

There is no single answer to this question as it depends on your personal circumstances and motivations. The most common amount members of Giving What We Can report giving is 10% of their income and we think that this is generally a good standard, especially for most people in high-income countries.

However, some other suggested standards for giving include giving what you can afford, giving what you won't miss, giving at an average level, or giving generously. Whatever you decide, it is important to also give effectively to maximise your impact.

We write more about the different ways to approach deciding how much to give in our article: "How much money should we donate to charity?".

What are effective charities?

Effective charities are organisations that use donations effectively to achieve their goals. That is, they are able to accomplish a lot with the resources they have. There are many factors that go into determining whether a charity is effective, including how well it is run, how efficiently it uses donations, how much good it does per dollar donated, and more.

Some charities aim to improve lives directly, for example through medical aid or public health projects. Some do so indirectly, for example by researching the best charities to give to, or helping students find more effective careers. Some do so by advocacy work such as lobbying for nuclear weapons safety or corporate farming reforms.

By focusing our donations on some of the most effective organisations that have proven themselves most effective, we can achieve much more with our donations and encourage charities to become more effective to receive our donations.

Giving What We Can shares research that helps people identify the most effective charities in the world. We want to make sure that donations are having the biggest possible impact, so we only recommend charities that we believe are doing a lot of good with the resources they have. If you'd like more guidance, you can view our giving recommendations.

Should I split my donation between multiple charities or choose just one?

When thinking about how to donate most effectively there is some discussion about whether you should donate only to the one thing that you think on balance will do the most good or whether you should split your donation. When it comes to splitting between charities one attempt to solve this dilemma is to donate to a charitable fund instead (that will pool people's money together and have experts figure out the optimal allocation).

But what about choosing whether to donate 100% of your money to one cause area or split it across multiple?

On the one hand, if you think one cause area has the highest expected value (the amount of good that can be achieved multiplied by the probability of achieving that good) then there are strong arguments for only donating to that one area because you think that is where the highest positive impact can be achieved. This article goes into greater depth on expected value and why it's important.

On the other hand, as this article explains it could be that different cause areas act as multipliers on each other meaning it is important to maximise all areas. For example, it could be important to both ensure the continuation of our species by safeguarding the long-term future but also to make sure that future is favourable by improving the way we treat animals.

As this post points out it may be important to donate at least a small amount to all the different cause areas as a way to reduce the biases we have to different cause areas perhaps because we identify with particular communities or identities (such as being vegan) or don't want to lose status associated with changing our minds.

How you think about these different arguments may affect how (and if) you split your donations between the different cause areas but it is an important area to think about before you donate.

What if I disagree with Giving What We Can's recommendations?

That's fine! We encourage everyone to research and make their own decisions about which charities to support.

We also recognise that people have different opinions about what is effective and what is not. What matters most to us is that you are thoughtful and intentional about your giving, and that you are trying to have as much positive impact as possible.

We also welcome feedback (it’s how we get better!) and encourage you to contact us if you have any specific feedback you’d like to provide.

How can I be sure my donation will be used effectively?

At Giving What We Can, we only recommend charities for which we have good reasons to believe they can do a lot of good with the resources they have. Read our inclusion criteria to find out how we choose which charities to include on our donation platform.

Our recommended charities work on high-impact cause areas and have been evaluated to be highly effective by trusted charity evaluators and grantmakers. We conduct due dilligence on all charities added to our donation platform.

In addition, many of the charities we recommend are highly transparent, which means they provide a lot of information about how they use donations. This allows donors to see how their money is being used and to make an informed decision about whether they want to continue supporting the charity.

Donate now

Donation Platform

Can I donate to your charities using a donor-advised fund (DAF)?

You can donate to charities and funds available on our donation platform from a donor-advised fund by following these steps:

  1. Create your donation using our donation platform:
    1. Select the recipients (e.g. charities, organisations, or funds)
    2. Specify the amount to each recipient
    3. Begin payment process
    4. Choose "Check/Bank Transfer"
    5. Complete the steps right to the end
    6. Save your reference number for step #2
  2. Donate via your DAF
    1. Select The Centre for Effective Altruism as the grant recipient
      1. USA EIN: 47-1988398
      2. UK Charity Number: 1149828
      3. Netherlands ANBI: 825776867
    2. If possible specify the reference number from step #1

Please note that there may be a significant delay between the time the donation is made and the time it is reconciled (at which point you will receive your email confirmation/receipt).

Can I make very large cryptocurrency donations?

Yes! We’ve accepted many crypto donations worth over $1 million. However, for donations of this size, we may elect to sell the crypto manually, depending on the coin, the liquidity of the market, and other factors. This might delay us sending your receipt.

If you’re planning to donate more than $500,000 or equivalent, please feel free to get in touch to discuss.

Why do donations to Giving What We Can go to CEA and not a separate donor-advised fund (DAF)?

Giving What We Can is a project of The Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA). CEA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in the United States and a registered charity in England and Wales. This means that we can provide all of the tax benefits of a donor-advised fund without the associated fees. We can also use our infrastructure to negotiate for lower fees in processing donations and to create a more seamless user experience.

Can I set up a monthly direct debit with Giving What We Can?

Yes. When you make a donation, just choose the "Recurring, Monthly" option –currently only available for donations made by credit card (US/UK/NL), or bank direct debit (UK only). We will save your chosen allocation and use it to divide your donation between your chosen funds/organisations each month.

Can I leave a bequest to donate in my will?

We can accept bequests and gifts in wills via our parent organisation, The Centre For Effective Altruism.

Learn more about leaving a bequest.

Can I donate cryptocurrency, stocks or other appreciated assets?

Donating assets that have appreciated in value can be more tax-advantageous than liquidating them and donating the money yourself.

Cryptocurrencies

Giving What We Can accepts donations in over 150 cryptocurrencies. You can make a donation with cryptocurrency by selecting 'Donate with crypto' on the payment page. See our cryptocurrency help section for more information.

Stock

We can accept donations made in stock in the USA. Donating stock in other countries is not supported at this time. Please get in touch if you'd like to arrange a donation of stock.

My credit card has expired (or is about to expire). How do I update my billing details?

We don't currently have a way to update billing details. Instead, you'll need to cancel your existing recurring payment, and create a new one.

  • Sign in and navigate to the Recurring Payments tab on your Payments Dashboard.
  • Find the Recurring Payment associated with the expiring card, click 'Cancel Recurring Payment', and confirm

Click 'Create a New Recurring Payment' at the top of the screen, which will let you create a new donation. Set the details of your Recurring Payment, including your updated credit card number.

How do I donate cryptocurrency to charity?

Donating cryptocurrency is simple using Giving What We Can:

Step 1. Head to our donate page, and pick the funds or organisations you’d like your donation to go to. You can donate to several organisations at once, and split your donation between them however you’d like.

Step 2. On the payment page, under the donation amount field, click the ‘Donate with crypto’ button

Crypto Donation Flow - Donate Crypto Button

Donate Crypto Button

Step 3. Select the cryptocurrency you’d like to donate in [1], and the amount [2]. You’ll see an estimate of how much your donation will be worth in fiat currency [3].

Crypto Donation Data Entry

Crypto Donation Data Entry

Step 4. Fill in the rest of the form (email address, data sharing consent etc.). When you’re ready, click ‘Confirm’ on the payment summary box.

Payment Summary Page

Payment Summary Page

Step 5. Transfer your cryptocurrency to the wallet address you see on the screen.

Bitcoin Wallet Address

Bitcoin Wallet Address

Step 6. Copy your transaction hash. This is a number that uniquely identifies your crypto transaction on the blockchain, and we need it to verify your donation. You should see it in your crypto wallet, attached to the transaction you’ve just made.

Step 7. Verify your transfer by pasting your transaction hash into the field provided [1], and submitting the form [2]. This is important: if you don’t tell us your transaction hash, we won’t be able to allocate your donation properly.

If your wallet is on another device (such as your mobile phone), you can click the ‘verify this transfer on another device’ link. This will let you open the verification page on the device where your wallet lives. We’ll also send you this link via email, so you can also just open it from there.

Verify Transaction Hash

Verify Transaction Hash

That’s it! You should receive your email receipt in the next 10-20 minutes, depending on how long it takes the transfer to confirm on our end (though please allow up to two hours).

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

What is a transaction hash (crypto transaction ID)?

A transaction hash (sometimes called a ‘transaction ID’ or ‘TXID’) is a string of letters and numbers that uniquely identifies a cryptocurrency transaction.

We need you to tell us the transaction hash of your crypto transfer so that we can match it to your donation and ensure that it is allocated correctly.

Finding your transaction hash

Your wallet may display the transaction hash immediately after completing the transaction, but if not, you can usually see it by finding the transaction in your wallet’s transaction list and clicking ‘transaction details’ or ‘transaction info’.

If you can’t find your transaction hash, you could try searching for <name of your wallet or exchange> transaction hash.

If you still can’t find the transaction hash for your crypto donation, please get in touch so that we can finalise your transfer and send you your receipt.

Verifying your transaction hash

If you’ve made a crypto donation through Giving What We Can, you’ll need to verify it using the transaction hash.

Verify your transfer by pasting your transaction hash into the field provided on the last step of the donation flow [1], and submitting the form [2]. If you’ve already closed or navigated away from the donation page, you can also open the verification page from the link in the email we sent you.

If your wallet is on another device (such as your mobile phone), you can click the ‘verify this transfer on another device’ link. This will let you open the verification page on the device where your wallet lives. We’ll also send you this link via email, so you can also just open it from there.

Verify Transaction Hash

Verify Transaction Hash

Why donate cryptocurrency to charity?

Giving What We Can supports making donations in cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency (crypto for short) is a type of digital currency, secured by cryptography. Common cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tether.

Why donate with crypto in general?

Cryptocurrency is an asset, a little bit like shares in a company. Cryptocurrencies are traded just like shares, and have value that can be expressed in terms of regular (fiat) currencies, like USD or GBP.

You could always just sell some of your cryptocurrency (i.e. converting the value back into a regular currency), and then donate the proceeds. However, it might be better to donate the cryptocurrency instead, for two main reasons.

Firstly, it’s usually more tax-efficient. Because cryptocurrencies are an asset, selling them (and making a profit based on what you originally paid for them) incurs capital gains tax (CGT) in many jurisdictions. If you instead donate the cryptocurrency, you’ll avoid a capital gains event, which means you won’t have to pay CGT on those profits. (This shouldn’t be treated as tax advice, and you should check what the relevant laws are in your country.)

Secondly, it’s simpler: If you already own cryptocurrency, then it saves you the extra hassle of going to an exchange, selling your crypto, waiting to withdraw the proceeds, and then finally making a donation.

Why donate with crypto using Giving What We Can?

Giving What We Can is one of the best places to donate with crypto.

  • Lowest possible fees – many crypto donation platforms charge processing fees of between 1% and 5% (or more). We’re integrated directly with our exchange, so our fees are as low as they can possibly be (typically around 0.2%), and we don’t charge any additional processing fees.
  • Huge selection of coins and tokens – in most jurisdictions you can donate in over 130 cryptocurrencies. US donors are limited to a smaller number of currencies for regulatory reasons, but there are still more than 20 coins and tokens to choose from.
  • Institutional experience – we’ve been accepting crypto donations since 2017, and have strong ties to the crypto community.
  • Ease of use – it’s super simple to donate. Just choose your allocation, enter your payment amount, make your transfer, and verify your donation. The whole process should take you less than two minutes.

Tax-deductible – if you live in a supported jurisdiction (US, UK, NL), your donation will be tax deductible. UK donors can easily claim Gift Aid.

Why donate with Giving What We Can?

Benefit from expertise

Since 2009 Giving What We Can has been focused on finding high-impact causes and the best charities working to solve problems are big, tractable, and neglected. We work closely with experts such as charity evaluators, grantmakers, and academics.

Get lower fees

We use automation to keep our running costs low, and we don’t charge any fees for donating using our platform. The only fees are those applied by payment processors, and we’ve negotiated for lower processing fees so that more of your donation goes directly to charity or fund.

Play to your comparative advantage

Together our team and evaluation partners spend tens of thousands of hours a year thinking and learning about how to use money to do the most good. Donating to our recommended charities and funds allows you to take advantage of this expertise instead of trying to replicate it yourself.

Be part of a community

We are building a community of people focused on effectiveness and eager to solve the world’s most pressing problems. By joining the community and pooling our donations, we can coordinate more effectively.

High-leverage opportunities

By pooling our resources, we can also fund certain high-leverage opportunities that are only possible with larger sums of money. For example, we can fund early-stage charities that might need substantial support to get off the ground, or even encourage the creation of new charities by showing that money will be available to fund them. Together, we can have a greater impact than we could as individuals.

Help to measure movement growth

When more people donate to our charities and funds it helps us keep track of the movement's growth and priorities. Understanding the spread of effective altruism by requesting information from dozens of charities would be very difficult; a centralised donation platform makes this much easier.

What if I want to change my allocation after I've donated?

If you want to change your allocation for a non-recurring donation, please email us with details on the new allocation you'd prefer. We can make this change as long as you made your donation within the last financial year.

If you want to make changes to a recurring donation, you'll have to cancel that donation and create a new one with your preferred allocation.

Can I choose which day my recurring payment is taken?

Yes, you can select which day of the month your recurring payment will be charged on.

When creating a donation:

  • Choose a payment method that supports recurring donations, Credit Card (US/UK), GoCardless (UK only)
  • Set your donation frequency to 'Recurring, Monthly'
  • By default, your payment will be taken as soon as possible.
    If you'd prefer to set the day of the month your payment will be taken, click 'change'
Recurring payment

Recurring payment

Choose day of recurrence

Choose day of recurrence

Note that if you select a day of the month that is before the current day of the month (or, before the earliest day that payment can be taken for GoCardless payments), then your first payment will be taken in the following month.

Which charities are available via Giving What We Can?

Giving What We Can supports making donations to a number of high-impact charities and funds. You can find a list of supported charities under the 'Non-Profit Organizations' section of our donation page.

For more information, check out our criteria for including charities.

How will you invest money while it is being held before donation?

Money held will be managed in accordance with the Centre for Effective Altruism’s investment policy. Money that we would expect to regrant in less than 6 months would be held in liquid reserves. If a significant amount of money from the funds ends up being held for more than 6 months it will be held in savings accounts or invested. All of our accounts are low volatility and so lower interest and low risk.

How do you reduce administrative fees?

By processing donations for many funds and charities and batching together payments we are able to access lower fees than many individual charities. We also help reduce the administrative burden on individual charities by combining many individual donors’ donations into larger payments from a single source.

We provide our service at no additional cost (unlike donor-advised funds, we don’t charge a percentage of your donation as management fees).

What tax documentation will I get?

If you donate using Giving What You Can you will get a receipt that is UK, US, and NL tax-compliant for each donation they make through the Giving What We Can.

Receipts for credit card payments should arrive almost instantly, but if you make an offline payment (like a bank transfer), you may not get a receipt until roughly a week after we receive your donation.

US donors will also get a single tax statement showing their donation history at the end of each tax year.

Will my donations be confidential?

By default, we will not share your donation amount or your name outside of the Centre for Effective Altruism and the statutory requirements of HMRC, the IRS, and our auditors. In the future, we may implement an opt-in system for future donations to be made public should donors wish to do so.

How can I cancel a recurring donation?

You can see your recurring donations on the right side of your donation dashboard. You can cancel these by clicking on the "Cancel recurring donation" link.

Cancel recurring donation

Cancel recurring donation

What fees are charged on donations?

If you donate using a bank transfer, there are no associated fees, but the process is more time-consuming (you will need to instruct your bank to make the payment).

If you donate by credit, direct debit, or debit card, the payment fees are set by our third-party payment gateways (e.g. Stripe and GoCardless). We do our best to keep these fees as low as possible.

We (Giving What We Can) do not charge any additional payment processing or handling fees.

Before you complete your payment, we estimate your fees based on what we think the payment gateway will charge. Once you have completed your payment, the fees displayed will reflect what the payment gateway actually charged.

What payment types do you accept?

We accept:

  • credit cards (securely processed by Stripe)
  • bank direct debit (securely processed by GoCardless, UK only)
  • manual bank transfer
  • check (US only)
  • over 150 cryptocurrencies (fewer in the US due to legal reasons)

The payment methods available to you will depend on where you're donating from, and how much you're donating (for example GoCardless direct debits have a maximum value of 5,000 GBP, and we don't offer check/manual bank transfers for amounts under 100 GBP/USD/EUR).

Is Giving What We Can tax deductible?

Donations made via Giving What We Can are tax deductible in the USA, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Simply choose the country you wish to donate from when making your payment.

To donate to highly effective charities in other countries, please look at our page on tax deductibility by country.

Giving What We Can is a project of the Effective Ventures Foundation (England and Wales registered charity number 1149828 and registered company number 07962181, Netherlands registered tax-deductible entity ANBI 825776867) with a registered 501(c)(3) Exempt Organization in the USA (Centre for Effective Altruism USA Inc., EIN 47-1988398).

Receipts

When you make a donation, we will send you an email receipt which you can use to claim a tax deduction.

Gift Aid

UK donors can opt to claim Gift Aid on their donations, potentially increasing their value by 25%.

How will you use my personal information?

Giving What We Can will never sell or share your personal information with anyone without your explicit consent. We will only use your personal information to contact you about Giving What We Can related matters or to provide you with information that you have requested. You can find our full privacy policy here.

For donors in the UK we may link your data with donations so that we can claim Gift Aid on it.

We may also use anonymized, aggregated data about donations in our public materials, in order to display information on how the community is donating.

Members who take a public giving pledge will have their full name and date their pledge commenced available on our public members page.

Giving Pledges

Can I report donations to any charity using the pledge dashboard?

Pledged members are free to decide where they donate, so long as you sincerely believe that they offer the most effective way to improve the lives of others.

Members can donate directly to charities or by using our Donation Platform (for charities that meet our inclusion criteria).

If members donate directly to charities we ask that they record their donations, recipients and donation dates, as well as their annual income, using our Pledge Dashboard.

Each year we conduct a giving review where we remind members to report donations and income. If for any reason you would prefer not to provide this information, that's okay. However, we do appreciate if you reply with a confirmation of whether you have kept to your pledge.

This reporting is optional, but the information it provides is very useful for the following reasons:

  • It allows us to track the proportion of members who follow through on their giving pledge, showing us whether the commitment we encourage is realistic and is working.
  • It allows us to quantify the impact that we have had on the charities we recommend, by comparing the amount people have donated with the amount they would have donated had they not joined Giving What We Can.

When reporting donations using our Pledge Dashboard members can find many charities we recommend, charities that other members have donated to, and also add new charities to our database if they are not already on there.

How do I calculate my pledge if I’m a student?

Some circumstances change the amount of your giving pledge, such as while you are a student.

Many students have little or no income, but are largely supported by money from family members, the government or a student loan.

A giving pledge does not require you to donate any of this funding (although it does commit you regarding any future income). However, in the interests of all of our members giving what they can, we feel that it's within the spirit of the to donate something regularly if they can and it is therefore conventional for students to give at least 1% of their spending money.

We define spending money as money received for the purpose of spending on items such as food, rent, travel, or personal items. It does not include spending on tuition fees.

Of course, students who earn some income but depend on other help for their living expenses may choose to donate 10% of their earnings if they want to go above and beyond.

How do I calculate my pledge if I’m a full-time parent or carer?

If a couple with shared finances both wish to join, then they can simply donate 10% of their combined earnings and not worry about spending money.

If you are joining on your own as a full-time parent or carer then we recommend following the same guidelines for calculating your pledge when unemployed.

Should everyone take a giving pledge?

While we believe The Giving What We Can Pledge is a good fit for most of the people reading this, clearly it will not be the right choice for everyone.

Some reasons it may not make sense to take the The Pledge at this point:

  • You are undertaking something very resource-intensive like founding a startup or nonprofit.
  • Your employment or health situation is unstable.
  • You expect your student debt to be particularly heavy, such that the years after graduation will be especially financially tight.
  • You have family obligations that require much of your money.

Taking the Pledge is not necessary to be part of the effective altruism community, and no one should feel pressured to join simply to feel that they are in good standing. We recognise the richness of ways that people contribute to this community and to the world, and that The Pledge represents only one of the many ways of taking significant personal action to benefit others.

In many cases we’d recommend people might be better to start off by taking a Trial Pledge, start by donating to an effective charity, or find other ways of getting involved.

How do pledge members calculate income?

Most of our giving pledges are income-based. We think that for most people it makes sense to think about your giving from this perspective.

In general, we define income as your gross salary, wages, or self-employed income. For most people, this yields a good approximation of what they would consider their income. In cases where it yields something strange, a sensible alternative is to use whatever your government counts as your income for tax purposes.

While we have defined income as pre-tax in the past, after speaking with members in a variety of situations we believe there should be some flexibility here.

  • If you are donating to a charity that is tax-deductible in your country (or Gift Aid eligible in the UK) we recommend basing your giving on your pre-tax income.
  • If you are donating to an organisation that isn't tax-deductible in your country (or Gift Aid eligible in the UK) then you may choose to donate based on post-tax income.

The goal of this advice is to help members stick to their plan of taking significant action to benefit others. All guidelines about how to calculate income should be thought of as serving that goal.

We recognize that a simple rule won’t work perfectly for all possible situations, so we encourage members to consider the spirit of the pledge: using a significant portion of one’s income to benefit others. We are always happy to help think through these decisions if you’d like to contact us.

Does Gift Aid count toward my pledge?

Yes. Gift Aid is a program that UK taxpayers can use to increase the amount that goes to the charity they donate to (increasing it by 25% for base-rate taxpayers). If you are a UK taxpayer and claim Gift Aid on your donations, you can count the Gift Aid as well as your original donation toward your giving pledge. You can see information about claiming Gift Aid here.

If you donate via Giving What We Can we can automatically claim the Gift Aid for you.

What organisations or charities ‘count’ towards a giving pledge?

All of our giving pledges commit members to donate a pledged amount to organisations they believe can best use it to improve the lives of others.

To help members and donors, Giving What We Can recommends some of the most effective charities in the world. We want to make sure that donations are having the biggest possible impact, so we only recommend charities that we believe are doing a lot of good with the resources they have.

Different charities will have a very big impact in very different ways. Some charities aim to improve lives directly, for example through medical aid or public health projects. Some do so indirectly, for example by researching the best charities to give to, or helping students find more effective careers. Some do so by advocacy work such as lobbying for nuclear weapons safety or corporate farming reforms.

Pledged members are free to decide where they donate, so long as you sincerely believe that they offer the most effective way to improve the lives of others.

Furthermore, the donations do not strictly need to go towards registered charities to comply with the pledge. An organisation might be in the early stages of getting registered, or it could be an advocacy or lobbying group that is not a charity. Some members have also donated their pledge money directly to individuals to help them pursue a high-impact project (such as setting up a new charity, or pursuing a high-impact research project). These options are all within the spirit of the pledge: to do the most good with our donations.

Finally, many members also make donations above and beyond their pledge to other charities for reasons other than their effectiveness (such as a personal connection). While we applaud their generosity and altruism, it is not in the spirit of the pledge to count these donations to their pledge. For more on this topic we recommend reading: “You have more than one goal, and that's fine” by Julia Wise (former President of Giving What We Can).

What if I want to give more than 10% of my income?

If you want to give more than 10% of your income, that's great! We only ask that members give the minimum amount that they commit to, so if you want to give more than that, you are free to do so. There are no rules or requirements about how much more you can give.

Some members formalise a bigger commitment in the form of taking the Further Pledge.

Is there a pledge for students?

You are welcome to take any of our giving pledges while you are a student – and many people do!

While studying or unemployed it is within the spirit of the pledge to give 1% of spending money instead of the income-based pledge amount.

After your studies when you start earning a meaningful income your pledge will come into effect and it is in the spirit of the pledge to start giving the pledged amount (often a percentage of income).

How do you keep track of whether I follow through on my commitment?

Each year, Giving What We Can carries out a review of our members' donations and requests that they record their donations, recipients and donation dates, as well as their annual income, using our Pledge Dashboard.

This review is optional, but the information it provides is very useful for the following reasons:

  • It allows us to track the proportion of members who follow through on their giving pledge, showing us whether the commitment we encourage is realistic and is working.
  • It allows us to quantify the impact that we have had on the charities we recommend, by comparing the amount people have donated with the amount they would have donated had they not joined Giving What We Can.

If for any reason you would prefer not to provide this information, please let us know, with a confirmation of whether you have kept to your pledge.

How does working at a nonprofit or charity change my pledge?

While we think direct work at a charity or nonprofit can be extremely impactful! However, your pledged amount does not change depending on your workplace or occupation. Those of us who work for nonprofits, even if we left higher-paying jobs to do so, still donate our pledged amounts.

If your giving pledge is preventing you from doing more impactful work then it might be appropriate to resign from your pledge. Read more about this in “How permanent is a giving pledge?”.


How do I calculate my pledge if I’m unemployed?

Some circumstances change the amount of your giving pledge, such as while you are unemployed.

A giving pledge does not require you to donate while you aren’t earning any income (even if you are receiving some form of assistance). However, in the interests of all of our members giving what they can, we feel that it's within the spirit of the to donate something regularly if they can and it is therefore conventional for people who are unemployed to give at least 1% of their spending money

We define spending money as money received for the purpose of spending on items such as food, rent, travel, or personal items.

How do I calculate my pledge if I’m retired?

Because The Pledge is "for the rest of my life or until the day I retire", if you pledge during your career and then retire, we will continue to consider you a member after retirement even if you are no longer donating. Of course you are welcome to continue donating if you wish!

People who have retired or partially retired (which we roughly define as having started to draw a pension) can join Giving What We Can and remain members for as long as they continue to donate at least 10% of their spending money.

We define spending money as money received for the purpose of spending on items such as food, rent, travel, or personal items.

Do I count employer donation matching towards my giving pledge?

We think it's wonderful when employers offer donor matching and encourage donors to use this opportunity as it results in more money going to high-impact charities! However, when it comes a giving pledge, we only count the donation that the donor makes themselves. This is because the spirit of the pledge is to voluntarily forego a certain portion of your income and use it to improve the lives of others.

Can I pledge with my partner as a couple?

Couples who both want to take a pledge based on their joint income can do so if they wish. You can easily do this through your Dashboard or while signing up. Simply use "and" in the first and last name on the account as appropriate.

For example, Alex Anderson and Blake Brown would be input as:

  • First name: Alex and Blake
  • Last name: Anderson and Brown

Alternatively, Charlie Campbell and Clarke Campbell would be input as:

  • First name: Charlie and Clarke
  • Last name: Campbell

I'm not sure about becoming a member yet, but would like to help. What can I do?

There are many ways to get involved with Giving What We Can other than becoming a member. You can:

How often should members donate?

A giving pledge commits you to donating a certain amount over the period of your pledge (in the case of The Pledge it's 10% or more over your lifetime or until you retire). Members typically donate on an ongoing basis, rather than letting “donation debt” build up over many years. We check in with members every year and encourage them to log their donations.

However, you don’t have to donate on a strictly monthly nor annual basis. Sometimes members will:

  • Donate less in some years and make up for it in the following years (for example in case of temporary financial hardship).
  • "Batch donations" into certain years (for example for tax advantages).
  • Donate to a charitable trust or donor-advised fund (DAF) and disburse the donations later.

If a member becomes unable to keep their pledged donation percentage for a long period of time or no longer intends to keep their pledge at all, it would be appropriate for them to withdraw from their pledge. We have made a depledging form where people can officially revoke their pledge. Former members are welcome to rejoin if they wish.

How does debt change my giving pledge?

People taking a giving pledge should consider whether they will be able to donate their pledged amount while handling debt (such as student loans or a mortgage). Debt does not change the pledged amount as long as you have a regular income.

Why are the names of pledged members made public?

Giving What We Can is unusual among charities in maintaining a public list of members who have taken a giving pledge. We do this because we see it as an effective way of publicising the cause, like a petition or public demonstration. By publicly showing our commitment to give we hope to inspire others to join us, and to help create a culture where giving is a normal and expected part of everyone’s life.

Being open about our giving also helps us to stick to our commitments and to forge a sense of community. We are certainly not interested in boasting about giving, but we believe that the benefits of modesty are outweighed by the benefits of making a public stand.

While we feel that it is important that membership be public for the reasons set out above, our list of members only displays name, and no contact details or private information. However, if this really is a barrier preventing you from joining us, please contact us and we should be able to accommodate you in keeping your name anonymous or pseudonymous.

Does volunteering count towards my giving pledge?

We think it's wonderful when people spend time volunteering and encourage people to do good using their time as well as their money! However, when it comes a giving pledge, we only count the monetary donation that the donor makes themselves. This is because the spirit of the pledge is to voluntarily forego a certain portion of your income and use it to improve the lives of others.

What are the different giving pledge options?

The Giving What We Can Pledge (or “The Pledge”)

We’re best known for The Giving What We Can Pledge to give at least 10% of lifetime income to the most effective charities. 8,051 people have taken The Pledge.

We think that The Pledge is the best option for a typical person living in a high-income country (such as the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Australia).

A Trial Pledge

We also offer a Trial Pledge which is a scaled-down version of The Pledge. You still commit to giving a percentage of your income, but you can choose how much, and how long you want to give for.

You’ll be able to use the Pledge Dashboard to record your giving and to see how close you are to meeting your target. When it comes to an end, you can:

  • Extend your trial pledge;
  • Increase the amount you give; or
  • Take The Pledge if you are ready

A Trial Pledge is an excellent way to keep yourself on-track and motivated, and will give you a feel for what it's like to take The Pledge.

The Further Pledge

Some of our members wish to go beyond the standard 10% of The Pledge and take The Further Pledge. Here they nominate an annual amount they believe can provide for them and pledge to give everything above that to charities they believe will do the most good. This is in addition to The Pledge, and is entirely voluntary. We do not attempt to push our members into taking The Further Pledge: It is simply another way to give that some people prefer.

Our co-founder Toby Ord is most well-known for taking The Further Pledge when he co-founded Giving What We Can.

Other giving pledges offered elsewhere

Since the founding of Giving What We Can many other organisations in the effective altruism community have initiated other pledges that are targeted to specific groups of people. You may also want to consider:

  • One For The World’s one percent pledge to GiveWell’s Top Charities
  • The Life You Can Save’s variable pledge amount is designed to feel like a ‘barely noticeable amount’ for a year.
  • The Founders Pledge for equity holders to donate at least 5 percent of equity upon a liquidity event
  • The Generation Pledge for wealth inheritors to give at least 10 percent of inheritance within 5 years of inheriting
  • The High Impact Athletes pledge for athletes to give at least 2 percent of their annual winnings

What should I think about before taking a pledge?

We believe The Pledge is a good choice for most people reading this, given how comparatively well off those of us in the rich world are — for example, someone earning $30,000 USD a year is in the richest 4.7% of the world’s population. We also think anyone considering The Pledge should carefully consider how it will interact with other situations in their lives.

Using money to free up time

  • If you can do something very beneficial with your time, it may be better to spend money to save yourself time (by buying a dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes, taking faster modes of transit, etc.) rather than donating it.
  • Consider whether your likely budget would allow you to spend a reasonable amount of time on the things you consider most valuable.

Temporary financial constraints

  • If you're interested in starting a business, you may need to save up money to cover expenses during the early stages. In this case, the Founders Pledge may be a better fit (because the donation would happen upon a successful exit, rather than year by year). But see also one entrepreneur's experience with taking The Pledge and then founding a startup.
  • If you're currently a student (and thus only committing to donate 1% of your spending money if you pledge), consider whether you will soon be paying off student loans. Depending on repayment policies in your country, you may find money is tighter after finishing your studies, and it may be a challenging time to give 10%.
  • Because there is some flexibility in the timing of donations (for example you could donate less than 10% for a few years and make it up afterwards), you may find that you’re able to make The Pledge work even when your income fluctuates.

Health

If your health situation requires resources, time away from work, uncertainty about future expenses, etc., you may find that a consistent pledge doesn't work well. Perhaps it makes sense to make a conditional plan: an intention to donate a given percent in years when one’s medical situation is better, and to give less or not at all in harder times.

Investing in future ability to help

In some cases, spending now will let you help more later by increasing your eventual skills or earnings.

  • Saving money in order to afford further study, unpaid internships, and the like may decrease your ability to pledge now but increase your long-run career capital. However, you may apply for academic scholarships or career transition grants like Open Philanthropy's funding program for early-career individuals interested in improving the long-term future.
  • In addition to the value of your physical and mental health for its own sake, prioritising your health now may also allow you to do more good in the future.

While there are situations like these in which a full Pledge might not be suitable, people from many walks of life have also found it to be a good way to commit to building the kind of world they want to see. Many of us, when realising how rich we are compared to the world average, have welcomed The Pledge as a tool for giving back and for encouraging others to do the same.

If you find that The Pledge isn’t a good fit for you at this time, you might consider taking a Trial Pledge as a more flexible option.

How permanent is a giving pledge?

A pledge is a promise, or oath, to be made seriously and with every expectation of keeping it. But if someone finds that they can no longer keep their giving pledge (for instance due to serious unforeseen circumstances), then they can simply revoke their pledge or contact us, discuss the matter if need be, and then cease to be a member if they so decide. They can of course rejoin later if they renew their commitment.

Some of us find the analogy of marriage a helpful one: you make a promise with firm intent, you make life plans based on it, you structure things so that it’s difficult to back out of, and you commit your future self to doing something even if you don’t feel like it at the time. But at the same time, there’s a chance that things will change so drastically that you will break this tie.

Breaking a pledge is not something to be done for reasons of convenience, or simply because you think your life would be better if you had more money. But we believe there are two kinds of situations where it’s acceptable to withdraw from the pledge.

  • One situation is when it would impose extreme costs for you. If you find yourself in hardship and don’t have any way to donate what you committed to while maintaining a reasonable quality of life for yourself and your dependents, this is a good reason to withdraw your pledge. (Note that during unemployment you aren’t required to donate.)
  • The other is when you find that you have an option to do more good. For example, imagine you pledged and are now deciding whether to found a nonprofit (which will take all your financial resources) or keep your “day job” in order to be able to donate your pledged amount. If you have good reason to believe that the nonprofit will do significantly more good than the donations, that founding the nonprofit is not compatible with donating your pledged amount, and that you would not be able to make up the gap in donations within a couple of years, withdrawing your pledge would be a reasonable thing to do.

The spirit of a pledge is not to stop you from doing more good, and is not to lead you to ruin. If you find that it’s doing either of these things, you should probably break your pledge.

We understand that some people have a very strong definition of “pledge” as meaning something that must not be broken under any circumstances. If this is your sense of the word, and you wouldn’t want to take a pledge if there were any chance of you being unable to keep it, you might find that taking one or more shorter duration Trial Pledges is a better fit for you.

Could I become a member and not have my name published?

If having your name shared publicly is a barrier preventing you from taking a giving pledge, please contact us and we should be able to accommodate you in keeping your name anonymous or pseudonymous.

Is a giving pledge legally binding?

Our giving pledges are not a contract and are not legally binding. They are, however, a public declaration of lasting commitment to the cause. A pledge is a promise, or oath, to be made seriously and with an expectation that you will follow through.

However, if someone decides that they can no longer keep their pledge (for instance due to serious unforeseen circumstances), then they can simply revoke their pledge and cease to be a member. They can of course rejoin later if they renew their commitment. Obviously taking a pledge is something to be considered seriously, but we understand if a member can no longer keep it. If you need to withdraw your pledge can do so using our depledging form.

What if I can't afford to give 10% of my income?

The Giving What We Can Pledge is a commitment to give 10% of income to highly effective charities. If you can't afford to give 10% of your income, you can still get involved by:

We believe that every little bit helps, and even a small donation can make a big difference in the lives of those who need it most. But we also understand that everyone has different financial circumstances and giving isn’t always right for everyone.

We recommend you reflect carefully on what is right for you and start with an amount that is meaningful and sustainable.

What is The Pledge?

The Giving What We Can Pledge (or ‘The Pledge’) is a public commitment to donate at least 10% of your income to the most effective charities in the world.

As well as The Pledge, Giving What We Can also has three other giving pledges:

  • Trial Pledge: Donate 1%+ of income for any period you choose
  • The Further Pledge: Donate all income above a specified living allowance
  • Company Pledge: Donate 10%+ of profits

Take a pledge

How can I resign or unpledge for my pledge?

You can resign from your pledge by submitting our depledging form.

Upon submitting we will end your pledge and your name will no longer appear on the members list.

Please note that revoking a pledge does not delete your account or stop any recurring donations.

Why is The Pledge 10%?

We chose 10% of income for The Giving What We Can Pledge because it strikes a good balance. It is a significant proportion of one's income, in recognition of the importance of world problem’s and the need to take real action. But it is also within reach of most people in the developed world.

There is also a strong historical connection to the idea of tithing, a tradition in Judaism and Christianity of giving 10% of your income to charity or the Church. Islam has a similar practice (zakat) in which those who are able give between 2.5 and 20% to the poor and needy.

If 10% doesn’t seem achievable, many members start with a Trial Pledge instead (starting at 1% of income) and many people just donate to effective charities without taking a pledge.

A pledged amount is of course just a minimum commitment. Some members donate a lot more than their pledged amount, and other members pledge a higher percentage (contact us if you’d like to do this) or even take the Further Pledge.

Learn more about how to decide how much to give in our article: “How much money should we donate to charity?”

Our Community

What are some of the events Giving What We Can hosts or participates in?

Giving What We Can regularly hosts meetups and open forums online. Members also hold meetups in their local communities. We often participate in Effective Altruism Global conferences too.

We list these events on our events page.

What is the Giving What We Can community like?

The Giving What We Can community is a global network of individuals committed to using a significant portion of their income to help others. Our members come from all walks of life and from all over the world. They work in a variety of fields, from business to academia, trades, medicine, teaching, and more. They are united by a shared belief that we can make a difference in the world by using our resources to help those who need it most.

Giving What We Can members are supportive and friendly, and are always happy to answer questions or offer advice. There is a strong sense of camaraderie within the community, and members often come together to socialise, attend events, or volunteer. Giving What We Can also offers a range of resources and events to help members connect with each other and learn more about effective giving.

Here are some things our members say about the community.

Many Giving What We Can members are also a part of the effective altruism community, which is a broader movement of individuals who are interested in using their talents and resources to make the world a better place. There are hundreds of effective altruism groups around the world, and Giving What We Can members are often involved in these groups as well.

I want to get involved. What can I do?

What would I gain from becoming a member?

As a charitable movement, Giving What We Can is focussed on helping those in the most need, rather than benefiting ourselves.

However, becoming a member can help to make giving easier and more rewarding.

Members have access to our dashboard to track their pledge progress, our effective giving community (such as our private Facebook discussion group), they are added to our public member list, and receive a welcome pack with a pledge certificate that helps remind themselves of their commitment (and can help inspire others).

Many members find that setting the size of their year's donations in advance makes it easier to give, and feel encouraged by the knowledge that their donations are going to the most effective charities in the world.

Plus, by joining us, you can be part of the movement for change in the world.

How do I join Giving What We Can?

To become a member of Giving What We Can you can take a giving pledge over on our pledge page.

There are many other ways to get involved, such as:

Who is in charge of Giving What We Can?

Giving What We Can was founded in 2009 by Toby Ord and William MacAskill.

Our team is managed by an Executive Director (Luke Freeman) who is overseen by the Trustees of Effective Ventures Foundation.

You can read more about our team, history, and organisational structure on our about page.

About Us

Giving What We Can is a project of the Effective Ventures Foundation (England and Wales registered charity number 1149828 and registered company number 07962181) with a registered 501(c)(3) Exempt Organization in the USA (Centre for Effective Altruism USA Inc., EIN 47-1988398).

Effective Ventures Foundation was previously called the Centre for Effective Altruism until September 2022. Learn more about why the name was changed.

What is Giving What We Can’s mission?

Giving What We Can’s mission is to create a world in which giving effectively and significantly is a cultural norm.

We believe that charitable donations can do an astonishing amount of good. However, because the effectiveness of different charities varies wildly, it is important that we donate to the most effective charities if we want to have a significant impact.

At its core, Giving What We Can is participating in the project of effective altruism: trying to use our resources to do the most good. Giving What We Can specifically focuses on one particular resource: money, in the context of charitable donations.

We are focused on increasing the number of donors who prioritise effectiveness, helping them to maximise their charitable impact throughout their lives, and introducing them to the broader effective altruism movement.

Already many thousands of people participate in our mission by donating to effective charities or taking a giving pledge.

What does Giving What We Can do?

We help donors to find high-impact causes and identify the best charities working to solve them. We provide the support, community, and information you need to maximise the impact of your charitable donations.

Our causes Our charities

We’re best known for The Giving What We Can Pledge to give at least 10% of lifetime income to the most effective charities. 8,051 people have taken The Pledge and 989 people have made other significant giving commitments.

Take a giving pledge

We also provide a donation platform to help donors give to our recommended charities, charitable funds, and other high-impact charities.

Donate now

How did Giving What We Can start?

The idea of Giving What We Can came to Oxford philosopher Toby Ord after he was inspired by ethicists such as Peter Singer to pledge a significant proportion of his income to effective charities.

In November 2009, Toby and fellow Oxford philosopher Will MacAskill launched Giving What We Can, an organisation dedicated to creating a culture where people are inspired to give to the world’s most effective charities. The pair concluded that a tremendous amount of good could be done by carefully combining the head and the heart to analyse and compare charities based on how effective they are at helping others.

Giving What We Can was one of the first communities in a growing network of like-minded organisations focused on effective altruism, the project of using evidence and reason to figure out how to best help others, and taking action on that basis.

What is Giving What We Can?

Giving What We Can is a global community of effective givers. We’re on a mission to make giving effectively and significantly a cultural norm.

We help donors to find high-impact causes and identify the best charities working to solve them. We provide the support, community, and information you need to maximise the impact of your charitable donations.

Our causes Our charities

We’re best known for The Giving What We Can Pledge to give at least 10% of lifetime income to the most effective charities. 8,051 people have taken The Pledge and 989 people have made other significant giving commitments. Additionally, over 30 companies have pledged 10% or more of profits. Together we’ve already given 300,164,690 and pledged 3,100,341,230 to highly effective charities.

Take a giving pledge

Each of us has an incredible opportunity to improve the world through charitable giving. Together, we can make the world much better for all its inhabitants, for generations to come.

We invite you to join us in giving more and giving more effectively.

Donate now

How can I stay up-to-date with Giving What We Can's work?

The best way to stay up-to-date with Giving What We Can's work is to sign up for our newsletter. This way, you'll receive regular updates on our work, including new recommendations, upcoming events, and impact reports.

You can also follow us on social media, where we regularly share updates on our work:

We regularly release news and updates on effective giving on our YouTube channel and our podcast can be subscribed to using the following links:

We also automatically publish new blog posts to our RSS feed.

How can I find out more about Giving What We Can and its work?

If you want to find out more about Giving What We Can, we recommend exploring our website, especially our about page, homepage, blog, media coverage, and case studies.

You can also follow us on social media, where we regularly share updates on our work:

We regularly release news and updates on effective giving on our YouTube channel and our podcast can be subscribed to using the following links:

You might also want to attend one of our regular events, read our frequently asked questions, or contact us if you still have questions.

How much money has Giving What We Can raised so far?

Giving What We Can has raised 300,164,690 from our pledged members and over $108 million from other donors through our donation platform.

Additionally, Giving What We Can members have pledged to give 3,100,341,230 to highly effective charities.

How is Giving What We Can funded?

Giving What We Can is funded through a combination of direct donations from members and other individuals as well as grants from philanthropic foundations.

You can directly support our operations by donating directly to Giving What We Can.

So far our largest funders have been Open Philanthropy and the Future Fund.

Who started Giving What We Can?

Giving What We Can was founded in 2009 by Toby Ord (a philosopher at the University of Oxford), his wife Bernadette Young (a physician in training at the time), and William MacAskill (another philosopher at the University of Oxford).

At the time of its inception they were joined by other prominent members such as Rachel Glennerster (a development economist), Michael Kremer (a Nobel laurete and development economist), Peter Singer (a philosopher and author).

Do you have a religious affiliation?

Giving What We Can is an alliance of people both religious and non-religious, united in the belief that where we can relieve suffering without having to make serious sacrifices, we should do so. It is a belief supported by many traditions and philosophies, both religious and otherwise.

The following member stories highlight the experiences of some members who have religious motivations for giving:

I have more questions. Who can I contact?

Our contact details are kept up-to-date on our contact page.