We recently spoke with member Ollie Base from London, UK. He shared with us his journey to taking The Giving What We Can Pledge and what she'd say to people on the fence about pledging.
There are so many pressing problems that it can often feel like it's insurmountable or we don't know how to get started. Giving What We Can is one of the best ways I've come across where you feel like you're making a difference. You can give to effective charities and feel like you're making progress because it's a lifetime commitment – it's a significant amount of money you're giving towards these problems.
It's a rare community, a really special community of people dedicated to trying to make a difference, which is just hard to come across.
So for that reason, I think we should give: to have some route towards solving these problems.
Why take the pledge? I think the best thing I can say is I took it four years ago (as I mentioned, I took it when I was a student, and my life's changed a lot since then), and I still think it's one of the things I'm most proud of.
Sometimes I set aside a set amount of money that I might otherwise spend on other things I like, and I do end up giving because of the pledge.
I feel proud. I feel part of a really special community, and, most importantly, I feel like I'm helping make progress on the most pressing problems.
I encountered Giving What We Can through the effective altruism society at Warwick, where I was studying.
When I joined, there were a few people who had already taken The Pledge and (although this wasn't a prerequisite for being involved) it was always something I was aware of through interacting with this group.
So I took the pledge in 2017, two years after I came across effective altruism. And it wasn't as if I was spending that time hesitating as such. It was more that I knew I wanted to take it, that this was a community I wanted to be involved in, but I wanted to spend some time working out when I'd want to take The Pledge.
Spending a bit of time thinking about it is good: I waited for what I felt was the right time. I do think people should take some time to think about it properly. I know some people will come across it and take it almost the moment they hear about it – and that's great – but I think, if someone were to ask me, I'd say "having a bit of time to make sure you grasp what it is, it's really important, it's really special".
Doing anything for a lifetime, no matter whether that's a person you're dating or a place you're going to live, spending some time thinking hard about what you're committing to is always a good idea.
I was still a student when I took it. So I still was not giving away very much when I started. Now that I'm earning, it's more comfortable. But it really feels separate from my finances: it is a pledge about making a moral commitment. It is a pledge about what I want to do with my life and my earnings over time. Because it's a percentage too, it tracks well with how much we're earning anyway.
I know there are various considerations you might want to take into account about when you take it, but for me, it was more about the moral commitment of "I want to use my wealth to solve the world's most pressing problems".