Member Profile: Michael Scott

3 min read
7 Mar 2023

This profile is part of the "People of Giving What We Can" series.

The following profile is provided by Michael Scott, an American currently living in Germany. Michael believes in serving others, which was instilled in him by his mother. He is an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army.

A young man smiling at the camera, rowing a boat on a lake

Tell us about yourself, what keeps you busy, what makes you tick.

My work as an U.S. Army Infantry Platoon Leader in Amberg, Germany keeps me quite busy. When I do get a long weekend, I love exploring the world around me and challenging myself physically and mentally. My goals for 2023 are to summit Mont Blanc and to complete my first ultramarathon.

Tell us about your effective giving journey.

From a young age, I felt an inclination to serve others. I think my mother instilled in me an affinity for service. She displays persistent empathy and love for everyone around her. This desire to serve led me to join the Reserved Officer Training Corps out of high school and commit to serving four years in the U.S. Army. In college, I read Doing Good Better by William MacAskill at the recommendation of a friend, and I expanded how I defined service. Two years after graduating college and commissioning as an Infantry Lieutenant, I found myself well within the top 10% of wealthiest people in the world. I am extremely grateful for the good fortune life has brought me, and I find it incumbent upon myself to give 10% of my income to effective charities in order to truly lead a life of service.

Why do you give?

Common sense! It should be common sense to spend money to save lives if that money is not likely to bring one more happiness.

Before taking the Giving What We can Pledge myself, I raised money for the Against Malaria Foundation in college. My friend and I read Doing Good Better around the same time during our sophomore year of college. We turned our newfound motivation to raise money for effective charities into action by convincing our social club to transform a few house parties into fundraisers. The social club, similar to a fraternity, paid for all of the alcohol and supplies, and we charged a small cover at the door of around $5 which we donated to Against Malaria. While we never raised a ton of money, I'm still proud that we raised $300-600 at a few fun events by simply throwing some absolutely raucous college parties - my personal favorite was the "I'm Dreaming of a White Claw Christmas" Party, where we raised $370 that night and prompted an alum to give another $250!

Do you have any examples of times where you decided to not spend money on something your peers would have?

I have been very tempted to unload a thousand dollars on flying back to the U.S. to see family and friends recently. Fortunately, I have been able to find a lot of joy from my new relationships here in Germany.

Do you try to effect change in any other way?

I look forward to effecting change by working in policy or government back home in the U.S. after I finish my service commitment with the Army.

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

Do it! I promise that you will never regret saving lives!

Have you found anything to be helpful in talking to people about effective giving?

Lead by example everyday. Giving to an effective charity does not provide an excuse to ignore the struggles and pain of those closest to you. Always lead with empathy and you might be surprised how many others follow suit in augmenting your effective giving! If individuals want to serve their community, family, or country, with the right guidance and leadership, they will grow to serve the world!