Fundraising — Winter 2015

Women and children carrying insecticide-treaded mosquito nets distributed by the Against Malaria Foundation in Ntcheu, Malawi (Against Malaria Foundation / againstmalaria.org)

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Fundraising Progress

Giving What We Can is fundraising for 2016. We've got a great track record, and we've got big plans for the year ahead. Please take just a few minutes to help us keep making the world better, more effectively.

£206,000 donated
£269,000 remaining
Target: £475,000


Giving What We Can is fundraising for the year ahead, and we need your support.

Our track record shows that we've already had a big impact in terms of moving money to effective charities, and we're set to build on our success in 2016.

We'd really appreciate it if you took the time to read what we've been up to, and what we plan to do with the money we raise. Then, if you're convinced, you can donate to us via our parent organisation, the Centre for Effective Altruism.

Download PDF version of Fundraising Prospectus (4.4MB)

Introduction

Giving What We Can is a community of effective givers – an international society that helps people commit to giving more, and giving more effectively.

Our members commit to donate at least 10% of their career incomes to the charities they believe will be the most effective.

We use the best available research to find the most effective charities, and recommend them to our members, and to the donating public at large.

We build a community, helping to normalise ideas about effective giving, and pledging to give.

We’re small, but growing fast. We normally ask our members to donate to the world’s most effective charities. But we also need support to keep doing what we do – building a community of amazing, generous people, who want to make the world a better place.

Giving What We Can helps people donate to the best charities in the world – now we’re asking for you to help us. By supporting Giving What We Can, you’re not just helping charities here and now – you’re supporting the growth of a movement that will do good long into the future.

Please take a moment to read through, to find out what our plans for the next year are. There are some key facts on page 4, an overview of our plans starting on page 8, and information about our impact on page 22.

We hope that you’ll join us in the fight against suffering, and help us make 2016 an even bigger year for effective giving!

Thanks for your support,

Michelle Hutchinson and the
Giving What We Can team

Quick Stats

569 new members (2014-2015)

3,015 members in total

$23,710,562 donations reported by members

$1,479,573,514 pledged by members

Top Charities

Giving What We Can recommends these charities on the basis of extensive research showing them to be among the most effective in the world.

Malaria kills over half a million people every year, but the Against Malaria Foundation can provide an insecticide treated bednet for under $8.

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease that has serious consequences for school attendance, but the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative can provide a child with treatment for less than $2.

Treating parasitic worms is one of the most effective ways to improve school retention, and the Deworm The World Initiative can deworm children for under $2.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have serious health consequences and lead to learning difficulties, but Project Healthy Children provides technical assistance to help governments create micronutrient fortification programmes that only cost a few cents per person per year.

Read more about our Top Charities

Our Team

Current Staff

Hauke Hillebrandt

Sam Deere

Technical Director

Sam manages the Giving What We Can website and tech stack.

He has previously worked in policy and communications roles for several high-profile Australian politicians, and was part of the team that won the ‘unwinnable’ 2014 South Australian state election. He studied Politics and History at the University of Adelaide, and has nearly a decade of experience as a web developer. While no longer working in politics, Sam takes a strong interest in global politics and policymaking, and is also a keen photographer.

Incoming Staff

Larissa Hesketh-Rowe

Marketing and Communications Specialist

Larissa is Marketing and Communications Specialist. She previously managed our social media and a local chapter in Brighton in the UK on a voluntary basis. Larissa studied Politics and Sociology, volunteered as a political campaign coordinator and stood in local elections. Since then she has spent five years in corporate sales, events and marketing. In her spare time she enjoys running, playing football and going to gigs.

Founders

Toby Ord

Founder

Toby is the Founder and former President of Giving What We Can. He has provided advice to bodies such as the World Health Organisation, World Bank and the Prime Minister's Office. Toby has held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at Balliol College, Oxford, and is currently a James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute. His current research focus is population ethics. He completed Master’s and PhD degrees at the University of Oxford. Toby donates everything he earns above £18,000 to charity. His work on cost-effective philanthropy has received extensive coverage in the international media.

Advisory Board

Catriona Mackay

Civil Servant

Catriona is a civil servant for the UK government. She previously worked for the Department for International Development, managing their Payment by Result Strategy, and is currently working in internal communications for the Department for Work and Pensions. She also founded and ran one of Giving What We Can's first chapters in London.

Dr Anke Hoeffler

Development Economist

Anke is a development economist with expertise in institutional change. She is a Research Officer at the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford and a senior associate member at the International Peace Research Institute Oslo. Her research interests are primarily in the areas of economic growth and economies of conflict.

Luke Ding

Investor

Luke studied medicine at Oxford University, subsequently switched to a career in finance and held a number of senior management positions at Natwest and Merrill Lynch, and became a senior partner at fund management firm Brevan Howard. He now engages full time with his philanthropic activities in parallel with pursuing his business interests. He is a keen supporter of many organisations associated with Effective Altruism. Luke has sponsored many health care initiatives in developing countries, including national deworming programmes in Burundi and Madagascar. He is based in London.

Mark Barnes

Investor

Mark has extensive management experience in the financial industry leading departments of over 100 employees. He has completed a Masters in Philosophy and Public Policy and is now Director at Wave Transfer Limited UK: a company aiming to maximise their impact in the world by making the process of sending remittances to Africa more efficient.

Find out more about our team

The Giving What We Can Team: A Plan For Growth

Over the last year we’ve seen strong member growth. We’ve been building our capacity as an organisation, and testing how well different kinds of outreach work. Even using very conservative assumptions about our impact, we think we’re making a significant contribution to growing the number of people giving more regularly, and giving more effectively. We think that we’ve got plenty of room to grow, and we’re confident that we have good product-market fit.

We’ve developed and tested ways to proactively set up new chapters, continued to test reaching out individually to people to increase their engagement, and improved the usability of and access to the Giving What We Can Trust. Our recent Giving Review highlighted that the Trust has been very popular with our UK donors, suggesting that creating similar systems for international donors will be high impact.

We hired a full-time Director of Research, which has given us more in-depth knowledge of the most cost-effective interventions, and a thorough overview of the poverty alleviation sphere as a whole.

Now we want to capitalise on our growth, by scaling up some of the most promising avenues for attracting and retaining new members, and by increasing our depth of knowledge in extremely promising areas such as climate change, in order to ensure that our research is as credible, thorough and transparent as possible.

This means expanding our staff, bringing in new skills and experience, and giving us more people to take on projects that we just don’t have time for with the current staff numbers.

You can read more about our plans for what a bigger team means for us below.

What We Do

Overview: A Community of Givers

Giving What We Can is a community of effective givers, united by our ongoing commitment to donate a portion of our income to the world’s most effective charities. Our goals are to inspire people to donate generously and effectively, and to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

To join us, members take a public pledge to donate at least 10% of their gross income to the world’s most effective charities, for the rest of their working lives. People who are interested but not yet ready to commit can sign up for Try Giving, in which they give a proportion of their choosing for a limited period of time, to see how achievable it is.

We research and recommend the charities we believe to be the most effective, focusing on poverty relief in the developing world. Members are not bound to follow our recommendations, and can decide for themselves which charities make the most difference. We also run the Giving What We Can Trust, which helps both our members and the general public to manage recurring donations and give to non-domestic charities in a tax-efficient manner.

Members are part of a community, the functioning of which is crucial to achieving our full potential: it enables members to share information about how and where to give, helps them to stick to their donation commitments and allows them to stand together to change the culture around giving.

Over the next year, our main focus will be on the set of steps that lead people to join our community, from first hearing about us to making a commitment. Understanding this will help us to provide assistance and support at appropriate stages, and allow us to create a clearer pathway to joining. We aim to have 2,000 members by the middle of 2016.

What We Do

Growing a Valuable Community

The primary way we assess our impact is by reference to the number of community members, the amount they have donated already and the amount they have pledged for the future:

  • We currently have over 1,300 members.
  • Our members have donated just over $10,000,000.
  • The average member pledges around $360,000 across their lifetime.

This gives a total of more than $500 million pledged.

However, we are well aware that these pledges are only valuable if members actually follow through on them.

This is one of the great advantages of the community: people tend to find it much easier to act if they’re acting with a group. Our community provides us with some benevolent peer pressure, so we can help each other stay committed (for example, through our ‘My Giving’ dashboards where we encourage members to report their giving). It also means that there are people around to answer questions and discuss the best ways to give.

The community is facilitated both locally, through regional Chapters (see page 18), and centrally. Central office organises a number of events each year: we recently passed half a billion dollars pledged and plan to host a celebratory party in early 2016 to remind members of the good they are doing and the extent to which the community is growing.

We also reach out to new members, offering them a Skype conversation with a member of staff: over the past year we have spoken to almost 200 members in this way. These conversations often lead to improved connections not only between members and the central team, but also within the community, as we often follow up by introducing these people to other members as well as Chapters and staff. These meetings also give us a better insight into the places people first hear about effective giving and the reasons why they join.

We plan to continue with these conversations, and extend them to people who start Try Giving.

What We Do

Making it Easier to Donate

Beyond making recommendations about where our members should donate, it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to do so, allowing them to take advantage of gift aid and similar schemes and lose as little money as possible on fees.

To that end, the Giving What We Can Trust was launched at the beginning of 2014 to facilitate tax-efficient donations to top charities. It provides donors with the convenience of a single platform from which to donate to multiple charities, and allows tax-deductibility for donations from UK donors to top charities not registered in the UK. It also allows people to set up a direct debit and specify that when our recommendations change, the destination of their donations will change accordingly.

We have moved more money through the Trust than initially expected, with over 1,500 people donating through it. The total donated in 2014 was $681,000, and the total during the first three quarters of 2015 was over $1 million. Around two thirds of the total donations come from donors visiting our main website, with most of the remaining donations coming from donors directed to our donation form from GiveWell’s site.

The Trust is currently run by staff at Giving What We Can. Over this year we have automated much of the operational side of running the Trust, minimising the amount of staff time taken up. However, in the new year we will seriously consider outsourcing some of the operations to further decrease the staff time involved.

Next year we plan to look into options which could replicate the success of the Giving What We Can Trust in the US. This is a good time to research options since we now have a US branch of CEA, which may be able to facilitate, and because our share of US members compared with UK members is increasing as we grow.

What We Do

Producing High-Quality Research

Since our members are now consistently donating millions of dollars to effective charities each year, it is crucial that we continue to increase our in-house expertise on charity effectiveness. We must continually inform and fact-check our outreach and marketing, represent Giving What We Can at scientific conferences and meetings, talk to other key players in the development sector on eye-level, and, most importantly, ensure that we always recommend the most effective charities to our members. It is vital for us to stay abreast of relevant findings coming from both academic and non-academic sources, and to communicate these findings to our audience in an accurate and accessible manner.

We are planning on hiring for one more full time equivalent research position. There are three reasons for wanting to increase our research capacity. First, due to increasing interest in effective altruism from the public, the media and potential members, we receive an increasing volume of questions about charity effectiveness, and these need to be answered swiftly and competently. There is also increasing demand for our researchers to give talks and answer questions on the results of their research; while this is excellent for our profile, it does place strain on our capacity.

Secondly, as Giving What We Can grows and moves more money, our responsibility as stewards of donations becomes greater: we need to remain confident in the charities we recommend and scale up our research capacity accordingly. Granted that Givewell, another charity evaluator, has become increasingly professionalized, we still think that it is important to have at least one other organisation conducting research and keeping up with the literature on charity effectiveness.

Finally, the community as a whole has blind spots on topics such as climate change, and it is imperative that we dedicate time to the issue. The distinctive feature of the effective altruism community is that we use evidence and analysis to come to decisions on where to donate; we cannot afford to leave serious gaps simply because of the time commitment required to look into them.

What We Do

Reaching Potential Members

This year has seen strong growth in the number of people interacting with Giving What We Can through our website and social media. We have also seen Giving What We Can mentioned fairly regularly in traditional media, in particular linked to publicity surrounding Will MacAskill’s book Doing Good Better and Peter Singer’s The Most Good You Can Do.

Over the period November 2014 to November 2015, the website has seen a 41% increase in traffic, with 38% more users, and 32% more page views.

Over the same period, our Facebook reach has improved by 270%, and average likes per post have more than doubled. Our regular newsletters have also been performing well, with open rates typically doubling the industry average for the non-profit sector (~48% open rate, vs. ~22% for all non-profits).

Our biggest communications project so far has been an overhaul of Giving What We Can’s front-facing website. The changes have significantly improved the website’s uptime, loading times, performance on mobile devices, accessibility, security, and usability for content managers. The project has focused on a ‘lean’, rapid prototyping model, which means that the impact of changes on visitor behaviour can be tested easily (using analytics tools like Optimizely), and changes to the codebase can be tested and shipped quickly.

Over the next few months, the focus will shift to A/B testing various messages through the website and our email newsletter, and improving email automation (e.g. a series of emails welcoming new members and ensuring they have useful information, or reminders as people get near to ending their Try Giving periods). In future, we’d like to start tailoring emails to members’ interaction with features like My Giving (e.g. people who haven’t used My Giving for a while will be automatically reminded to fill out their giving details prior to tax time in their country).

Many communications projects are relatively time-intensive, and current staff are time-constrained — consequently, we have not been able to undertake as many communications projects, or learn as much from our existing projects, as we would like. This has been mitigated somewhat by some exceptional volunteers who assist with management of our social media and blog, however the addition of new staff members with marketing and communications skills will be extremely valuable, and mean we can iterate much faster towards public outreach that leads to more exposure of Giving What We Can and more people taking the pledge.

Pledging to donate 10% of your income to the most effective charities for the rest of your life is a significant commitment. As such, we expect many or even most people to need some personal engagement before they become ready to make that commitment. Therefore, as well as producing content to attract people, we reach out individually to people who have shown interest in our work, or are likely to sympathise with our goals. These include: people who have engaged with us on social media, like Facebook or Twitter; people who have mentioned us as a reason to donate to charities (in particular, the Against Malaria Foundation); effective altruists (for instance, those who participated to Effective Altruism Global conferences).

So far, our main strategy to connect with these groups has been to contact them individually via emails or Facebook messages. Over the past year and a half we have put a relatively small amount of time into this, and yet the results suggest this is an high-impact activity: around 100 hours of work has led to 9 pledges, 1 Try Giving and 13 newsletter signups.

Over the next year, we would like to scale up this individual outreach, and hire the equivalent of a full-time staff member to focus on it. We will continue engaging with people via email and on social media, and will explore other possible strategies. In particular, we would like to find ways to encourage members to take an even more active role in informing others about Giving What We Can. We think this is likely to be a promising strategy, because a recent review of conversations with new members showed that friends are the single most common way they initially heard about Giving What We Can.

What We Do

Building a Network of Chapters

Giving What We Can’s chapters are local groups of chapters are a local network of members and supporters, which work both to assist our existing community, helping existing members to keep their pledges, and to grow the community, by reaching out to encourage more people to join. Over the last year, we have increased the number of chapters by 50%, taking the total to 45. We estimate that to date, each chapter has brought in an average of 5 new members; in addition, many chapters hold successful fundraisers for effective charities. Therefore, setting up and supporting chapters appears to be of potentially high value.

We support existing chapters by establishing a system of mentors, organising regular Skype calls and providing resources via the Chapter Resources Drive. We facilitate the setting up of chapters both by reaching out through effective altruist networks and by ‘chapter seeding’: writing to professors and student leaders at universities to ask if they are interested in setting up a chapter. This takes around 10 hours per location; out of approximately 200 locations targeted so far, around 15 have started chapters.

The growth in the number of chapters creates both opportunities and challenges. There are some large economies of scale to be made (for example, in providing online resources). However in some ways, we will need to put in more time (for example, maintaining individual contact to make sure we are providing what chapters need). We would also like to expand to producing physical promotional resources and distributing them to all chapters, as well as putting time into improving and scaling up chapter seeding in order to increase the number of chapters. In order to accomplish this, we would like to hire a second person to work alongside the Director of Outreach.

Budget

Giving What We Can’s budget for 2016 is £475,000.

The largest share of this is staff. We seem to have found effective outreach strategies for growing our community which can be scaled and have received excellent applications for our roles, so we think that expanding our team is extremely valuable.

If we raised £475,000 we would end the year with around 10 months of reserves, and would not have to fundraise again until next December. If we raise less than that but more than £325,000, we will likely need to fundraise again in the summer.

If we raise less than £325,000, we will cut back on our plans. In particular, we will likely not hire two of the people we would otherwise hire.

Of the £475,000, we already have £193,000 pledged, which means we need to raise an additional £282,000 to meet our fundraising goal.

Expenses Summary

ItemAmount (£)
2016 budget475,000
Already Pledged- 193,000
Total£ 282,000

2016 Budget

ItemCost (£)
Employee pay/tax/other (9 staff members)270,000
Communications & Outreach, including materials and travel10,000
Member & Trust administration12,000
Training and equipment5,000
Internship support expenses5,000
GWWC share of CEA expenses130,000
10% contingency43,000
Total£ 475,000

Giving What We Can share of CEA expenses

Giving What We Can is part of the Centre for Effective Altruism, which allows us to benefit from shared HR, office costs, services, staff benefits etc.

ItemCost (£)
Employees77,000
Office21,000
Services (recruitment, fundraising, intern accommodation)12,000
Sundries (including financial and legal costs, lunches, technical, training)20,000
Total£ 130,000

Impact

Member growth over time

Graph — Member Growth 2009-2014

Member growth is one of our most important metrics for evaluating our impact.

We estimate that, on average, each new member of Giving What We Can results in an additional $70,000 going to the most effective charities (counterfactually adjusted and time discounted).

The rate of new members joining has continued to rise over the past few years, with a mean of 10 members per month in 2013, 35 per month in 2014 and 53 per month up to the end of November 2015.


Donation growth over time ($USD)

Graph - Member Donations 2009-2014

This graph shows money donated by members of Giving What We Can.

Giving What We Can’s member base has grown rapidly over the past 6 years, and alongside this we’ve seen a rapid increase in donations. The graph shows that members’ total donations increased from $24,000 in 2009 to over $7,063,000 by the end of 2014. Donations to top charities (excluding all donations to the Centre for Effective Altruism and donations which we expect would have been made anyway), total $1,513,000.

These figures do not include any additional donations recorded outside of My Giving, nor do they factor in money that would have been donated somewhere, but that was directed to a top charity because of our work.


Reported donations to AMF ($USD)

Graph - AMF Reported Donations 2009-2015

The Against Malaria Foundation are particularly proactive at tracking donor referrals, and informing us about donors we have referred.

There will be some overlap with donations self-reported by members of Giving What We Can. However, we believe that self-reported donations are a conservative estimate of the money we have moved, since not all members record their donations with us, and some people donate due to Giving What We Can without becoming members.

The data from AMF offers a more concrete indication of money moved which would not have been donated to AMF without the work of Giving What We Can. To date, AMF have credited us with referring over $2 million in donations.

Impact Calculations

About our Impact Calculations
(and Some Caveats)

These calculations examine the impact of Giving What We Can’s work up to the end of 2014, and compare this to our costs. This yields several estimates of our average impact per dollar spent.

However, whilst we monitor our impact relative to our spending as a broad sanity check of our effectiveness, these estimates should not be overemphasized, or taken as projections of our future leveraging ratio on donations.

Our realistic scenario impact calculation suggests that we have created value equivalent to moving $104 to top charities which otherwise would not have been donated, per dollar of spending up to the end of 2014; in effect giving us a leveraging ratio of 104:1 for those years.

We expect this ratio to decrease from 2015 onwards, as our costs grow. We do not see this as a problem, since we predict that increasing our costs is necessary for increasing our long-run, absolute impact.

We would therefore encourage potential donors to look at our growth (in terms of both members and money moved so far), and our plans for how we intend to use future donations (outlined throughout the What We Do section), and weigh these more heavily than these calculations when making a judgement about whether Giving What We Can is a worthwhile cause to fund.

These calculations build upon the impact evaluation we released earlier in 2015. They update the calculations with previously-unavailable data from 2014, and modify some of the calculations’ assumptions based on this new information.

There are flowcharts that represent these calculations visually below.

For a thorough explanation of the methodology behind these calculations, or to compare them to our previous impact evaluation, please visit our Impact page

Lower Bound (6:1)

Lower bound impact calculation - An impact ratio of 6 to 1

The lower bound calculation uses conservative or pessimistic assumptions, and considers only past donations (in effect assuming that members all stopped giving after 2014). This calculation shows that even if all our members stopped giving now — rather than fulfilling their lifelong pledge — we move around $6 to top charities for every $1 in costs. Therefore, we think that this represents an absolute worst-case scenario for our impact.

We can be confident that for every $1 spent by Giving What We Can, at least $6 will be moved to top charities.

See this calculation visualised below


Realistic (104:1)

Realistic impact calculation - an impact ratio of 104 to 1

The realistic scenario uses detailed information about what we expect members to pledge into the future, and provides what we consider to be the most realistic estimate of our effectiveness.

Information for 2009-2014 indicates we should expect that, for every $1 spent by Giving What We Can, around $104 (counterfactually adjusted and time-discounted) will be moved to top charities.

Note: a previous version of this page incorrectly stated that our impact ratio was 103:1

See this calculation visualised below


Calculation Flowcharts

These flowcharts represent the methodology behind the impact calculations presented above.

For a thorough explanation of the methodology behind these calculations, or to compare them to our previous impact evaluation, please visit our Impact page

Impact Calculation Flowchart - Lower Bound Calculation (6:1)
Impact Calculation Flowchart - Realistic Calculation (104:1)

If you'd like to donate to our winter fundraiser, just click here.

You'll be taken to the website of our parent organisation — the Centre for Effective Altruism. Just follow the instructions for your preferred method of donating.

Other CEA organisations are fundraising now too. You can choose to restrict your donation to Giving What We Can, or leave your donation unrestricted, and CEA will allocate your donation to the organisation that needs it the most.

If you do donate, we want to say a huge thanks from the entire team — your generous support is incredibly important to us, and to our mission of encouraging people give more, and give more effectively.

Fundraising Progress

Giving What We Can is fundraising for 2016. We've got a great track record, and we've got big plans for the year ahead. Please take just a few minutes to help us keep making the world better, more effectively.

£206,000 donated
£269,000 remaining
Target: £475,000

Donate now (via the Centre for Effective Altruism)

Supporters

Giving What We Can is incredibly grateful for the continued support of our donors, without whom we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.

We’d like to take the opportunity to say thanks to everyone who has joined with us as we try to do the most good we can!

2015 Donors

  • Luke Ding
  • Mark Barnes
  • Fred Mulder
  • Julia Wise
  • Jeff Kaufman
  • Andrew Sutton
  • Ross Reason
  • Robert Collins
  • Lyndsey Pickup
  • Stephanie Crampin
  • Derek Parfit
  • Janet Radcliffe Richards
  • Alex Gordon-Brown
  • Denise Melchin
  • Prof Jonathan Barry
  • Joe Mela
  • Becky Cotton-Barratt
  • Rossa O’Keeffe-O’Donavan
  • Andrew Schultz
  • Michael Peyton Jones
  • Joshua Greene
  • Jack Sennett
  • George Georgiadis
  • Michael Dello
  • Robbie Shade
  • Daniel Robinson
  • Alexander Barry
  • George Marshall
  • Peter W
  • Fabian Schomerus
  • Philip Hazelden
  • Jessica Chung
  • Amanda Cohn
  • James Hudspeth
  • Keith Foster
  • Dana Stokes
  • Cate Hall
  • Elissa Fleming
  • Maja Z
  • John Bachelor
  • John Halstead
  • Rachel Payne
  • Taymon Beal
  • Oliver Bray
  • Joeri Kooimans
  • Evan Dawson-Baglien
  • Daniel Selwyn