Blog post

Celebrating 10 years of Giving What We Can!

3 min read
14 Nov 2019

Giving What We Can is celebrating our ten-year anniversary today!


Since November 2009, we’ve grown from 23 members to more than 4,000. Together, we’ve donated more than $125 million to effective charities, and have pledged over $1.5 billion.

Here's what membership has looked like over that time:


You may enjoy this talk from Toby Ord about the beginnings of Giving What We Can.

Some excerpts from that talk, starting with a philosophy essay assignment:

One of these essays I did, I looked at the list of topics and saw this interesting topic about global poverty. . . . It had never been that central to me, and I had a couple of weeks just looking at these questions, and I had to really confront them. . . . It made me think, yeah, I should do this, I should make this a central part of my life. I made a commitment to donate most of my money over my life and to live on a limited income.
In 2006 I decided I needed to set up some kind of organization to help other people do this too. People had contacted me saying, ‘I want to join you in doing this’ and I needed some way of getting that to work. I had the idea for an organization that would involve both giving more and giving more effectively, but I didn’t have all the pieces.
I met finally a really kindred spirit. . . . with Will present, things really rocketed along.
We weren’t sure what the reception would be. . . . a lot of people thought, this is never really going to take off, is it? They were excited to talk to me, and they thought it was an interesting idea, but they kept saying, no one’s really going to do this, are they? We had 23 people at that point, our founding members who’d taken this 10% pledge.
More people wanted to join. I got to the dining table and started sending out forms to people . . . our membership started growing very rapidly.
A really amazing moment was when I was in Seattle at a meeting where we were rethinking the disability-adjusted life year, the DALY, and changing the definition and improving it. And I noticed at that meeting of about 20 people, about one-quarter of the people who were making this decision were Giving What We Can members. It’s both a grassroots movement but it also has a lot of support from people who are really at the heart of cost-effectiveness and priority-setting in the world.
Both these things I find really humbling, to see how much it’s grown . . . how many people have joined, willing to actually put their money where their mouth is in terms of helping the world.

Some photos from the launch event 10 years ago:



To all our members, whether you’ve been with us for a decade or have just joined: thank you. We’re inspired to know that you’re out there, putting your values into action. We look forward to many more years with you!