Blog post

Member Profile: Martin Skadal

4 min read
Apr 5, 2022
This profile is part of the "People of Giving What We Can" series.

We recently spoke with Martin Skadal from Norway. He shared with us his effective giving story, including what motivates him to give, what issues he cares about the most, and his vision for the future.

Tell us about yourself. What keeps you busy? What makes you tick?

I'm on a journey to figure out how I possibly can do the most good. Right now I do that by running World Saving Hustle and Altruism for Youth, two NGOs working to make our world a better place.

Tell us about your effective giving journey.

My journey started with volunteering for over organizations. Then, I found some missing/neglected focus areas and started my own NGO. On that journey, I found Effective Altruism as a concept and right after that I discovered EA Norway. I've heard a lot about GiveWell and the Giving What We Can Pledge, but hesitated to join as I don't have much to give, as a result of my very minimalistic lifestyle. I then found out how I could join as a student (based on my spending and not income). I knew that even with my lifestyle, I could do it.

Why do you give? (What motivated you to give originally. What keeps you motivated now.)

I always strive to do the most good I can, but given the polluted information ecology, I find it hard to know for sure that I’m having a positive impact. Through Giving What We Can, I know that no matter how hard I try in my own way to figure out how I can do the most good, the money donated through The Pledge will most likely have a positive impact.

Why did you take the Giving What We Can pledge?

I took the pledge because I feel it's the most secure way right now to make sure that money donate is actually having a good impact. I also took the pledge because I feel it's a good idea to have a consistent habit of doing good. Furthermore, I took the pledge because I no longer have to hear "GiveWell or Giving What We Can" on 80 000 Hours podcast or other episodes mentioning it, knowing that I not yet have taken The Pledge! What are the issues in the world that you care most deeply about? I think the polluted information ecology and collective decision making are important issues. Under that, I feel topics such as animal rights (how we treat billions of animals in factory farms), human rights, and environmentalism are also particularly important.

Which organizations do you give to (and why)?

I primarily give to GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators based on my knowledge about them right now and the strong impact they have.

Do you try to effect change in any other way?

Yes! I have started two NGOs (which now have government funding), plus I am helping many other NGOs for free with consulting. I also try using social media (@skadal) to teach others about effective altruism.

What effective giving tips would you like to share?

I suggest listening to the 80,000 Hours podcast, and when Rob (and others from the EA community) visit other podcasts. I would also highly recommend getting involved in other altruistic NGOs to see if you have skills that you think they would be able to make use of.

What suggestions do you have for other people considering the pledge?

If you're a student, then just start ASAP. It's so easy and does not harm your (possible) low budget. If you're working, remind yourself why you would like to give, and keep consistent with consuming content from the EA community to keep updated with what you're helping out with.

What are your visions for the future?

I'd like to see collective decision making be a lot better, and that we figure out how to better optimize the ways of bringing attention and information together to increase compassion for each other. Personally, I hope to achieve that through expanding the NGOs I now run to have a global impact with an EA mindset.

Have any books or documentaries or articles or studies significantly changed the way you see giving?

Rob Wiblin on self-improvement and research ethics on the 80,000 Hours podcast. It didn't really say much about giving even, I think, but I think they discussed something that just clicked with me.

Are there any other concrete ways that Giving What We Can has helped you?

It has bettered my mental health by a notch.

This interview is part of the “People of Giving What We Can" series which profiles a selection of the Giving What We Can community. The Giving What We Can is a community of people from all walks of life, with different perspectives and motivations for giving – all united by their desire to make a significant commitment to use their income to effectively helping others. Read more member stories. Share your effective giving story to help inspire others to give more, and more effectively.

For more information about Giving What We Can we recommend you check out our frequently asked questions, our effective giving recommendations, our giving pledges, and our homepage.