Taking the Further Pledge

In June of 2017, I publicly pledged to donate 10% of my income to charity.

I made this pledge through Giving What We Can, an organization that educates people about the massive inequalities of wealth around the globe while also encouraging them to donate a percentage of their incomes to the charities that are doing some of the best work at reducing suffering worldwide.

Then, in July of 2021, I went one step further by taking the Further Pledge — a morally binding commitment to give away any annual income I earn in excess of a chosen maximum (in my case, $70,000) for the rest of my life.

I took this pledge because I can live very comfortably on less than $70k, and because the extra money I genuinely don’t need can do a huge amount of good if given to the right organizations. For instance, $2 in my wallet could go towards a cup of coffee, but $2 can also manufacture and distribute an insecticide-coated mosquito net with the Against Malaria Foundation, and that net could be the difference between life and death for a child living in rural Uganda.

I also took this pledge because donating fills my life with purpose.

As a person living in affluence relative to the rest of the world ($58k< = global 1%), I’m afforded an enormous opportunity to do so much good, and seizing that opportunity actively feels amazing. Donating my spare income contributes to the deep sense of meaning that I feel by living in alignment with my values, and it also helps me feel the true connectedness I share with my global neighbors. When I donate, I feel a surge of empathy and kinship with those whose misfortunes are entirely due to happenstance of birth — a position I could have easily found myself in were it not for a lucky spin in the lottery of where I was born.

Donating also reminds me that none of the challenges we face as a collective are insurmountable or intractable. Just the opposite, in fact! If everyone living in industrialized nations donated 10% of their incomes to highly effective charities, we would have a pool of over $7 trillion dollars each year with which we could push every living human being well above the poverty line, eradicate all preventable diseases, make a serious dent in climate change, and much more. While there’s only so much one person can do with their individual donations, it feels so good knowing that my contributions count towards the ultimate goal of reducing suffering and spreading health, prosperity, and joy. I fully achieved that level of optimism only after I started donating, and it’s made me feel a lot more hopeful about humanity.

Finally, I don’t donate alone. Every December, I donate my income alongside my friends in the effective altruism community, which makes me feel anchored in a group of wonderful people who are fiercely intelligent, hard-working, and endlessly kind. Knowing and learning from them inspires me every day, and I’m honored to count myself among them.

In short, donating is a pleasure. It isn’t something I have to do, it’s something I get to do, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. If you’re considering taking the 10% pledge, I strongly encourage you to check out the Giving What We Can website, and if you’re thinking of going further, get in touch with me and let’s chat! I’d be so delighted to hear from you! ❤️

[Cross-posted on my Substack]

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