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In this post several Giving What We Can team members have volunteered to share their personal giving decisions for 2023.

Wondering why it's beneficial to talk about your donations? Check out our blog post, "Should we be private or public about giving to charity?", where we explore the advantages of being open about our philanthropy. We also recommend reading Claire Zabel's insightful piece, "Talk about donations earlier and more", which underscores the importance of discussing charitable giving more frequently and openly.

If you enjoy this post, we also encourage you to check out similar posts from teams at other organisations who’ve shared their personal giving this year too, such as GiveWell and CEA.

Finally, we want to hear from you too! We encourage you to join the conversation by sharing your own donation choices in the comments on “Where are you donating this year and why?”. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other and to inspire more thoughtful and impactful giving.

Now, let's meet some of our team and learn about their giving decisions in 2023!

Fabio Kuhn

Lead Software Engineer

I took the Giving What We Can Pledge in early 2021 and have consistently contributed slightly above 10% of my income to effective charities since then.

Similarly as last year, in 2023, the majority of my donations have been directed towards The Humane League (50%) and The Good Food Institute (5%).

I continue to be profoundly unsettled by our treatment of other sentient species. Additionally, I am concerned about the potential long-term risk of moral value lock-in resulting from training AI with our current perspectives on animals. This could lead to a substantial increase in animal suffering unless we promptly address this matter. Considering my view on the gravity of the issue and the apparent lack of sufficient funding in the field, I am positive that contributing to this cause is one of the most impactful options for my donations.

The majority of my donations are processed through Effektiv Spenden, allowing for tax-deductible donations in Switzerland.

Additionally, I made other noteworthy donations this year:

  • 15% to the Effektiv Spenden "Fight Poverty" fund, which is based on the GiveWell "All Grants Fund".
  • 5% to Effektiv Spenden itself, supporting the maintenance and development of the donation platform.
  • A contribution of 100 CHF to the climate fund, as an attempt of moral offsetting for my carbon footprint.

Grace Adams

Head of Marketing

I took a trial pledge in 2021 for 3% of my income and then the Giving What We Can Pledge in 2022 for at least 10% of my income over my lifetime.

My donations since learning about effective giving have primarily benefitted global health and wellbeing charities so far but have also supported ACE and some climate-focused charities as part of additional offsetting.

I recently gave $1000 AUD to the Lead Exposure Elimination Project after a Giving Game I ran and sponsored in Melbourne. With the remaining donations, I’m likely to split my support between Giving What We Can’s operations (as I now think that my donation to GWWC is likely to be a multiplier and create even more donations for highly effective charities - thanks to our impact evaluation) and GiveWell’s recommendations via Effective Altruism Australia so I can receive a tax benefit (and therefore donate more).

Lucas Moore

Effective Giving Global Coordinator and Incubator

I took the Giving What We Can Pledge in 2017. Initially, I gave mainly to Against Malaria Foundation, but over time, I started giving to a wider variety of charities and causes as I learnt more about effective giving.

In 2022, I gave mostly to GiveDirectly, and so far in 2023, my donations have been spread across a mix of charities and causes, including The Humane League, NTI's Biosecurity Program, Johns Hopkins Pandemic Prevention Program, StrongMinds, LEEP, Longview’s Emerging Challenges Fund, FP’s Climate Change Fund, ACE’s Recommended Charities Fund, and GiveWell’s All Grants Fund.
 

After reading GWWC's "evaluate the evaluators" project, I've decided to give my remaining donations for 2023 to GiveWell’s All Grants Fund and Longview’s Emerging Challenges Fund, likely in a 3/1 ratio. I think I’ll probably take a similar approach in 2024.

Luke Freeman

Executive Director

As a child, I was shocked to learn that while I was healthy and well-fed, many children were starving and suffering from easily preventable diseases. This felt profoundly unfair and tragic (and later, when I heard about the veil of ignorance, it resonated with me), so I did what little I could throughout my younger years until I had a meaningful income. When looking to make my first large donation around 2011, I discovered the early work of Giving What We Can and GiveWell. After several years of using their advice, I finally took the Giving What We Can Pledge during the 2016 pledge drive because by then it was pretty clear to me that I wanted to be the kind of person who stuck at giving effectively and significantly throughout my life and the pledge was an excellent way to formalise that (although, I’ve structured my finances in a way that is more inspired by the Further Pledge partly because I cannot shake the feeling I get every time I use this calculator).

Since 2016, my donations have skewed significantly towards supporting operational costs or sponsorships for projects promoting effective giving and/or effective altruism. This started with sponsoring Giving Game and Everyday Philanthropist events and soon led to funding the operations of Effective Altruism Australia, Giving What We Can and Charity Elections. I've taken this approach primarily because:

  1. I'm pretty happy to fund things that are less attractive to other donors (most people aren't excited to support something like accounting, credit card fees, or fundraising);
  2. I am attracted to the leverage idea of giving multipliers; and
  3. I have a lot of personal uncertainty when it comes to the allocation between worldviews and like that giving multipliers can simultaneously promote each of the various worldviews that I find to be most plausible.

(Unsurprisingly, these reasons also drew me to work at Giving What We Can!)

In 2023, my impact-focused donations[1] have continued to go predominantly towards the operations of Giving What We Can and Effective Altruism Australia. I recently donated to the EA Forum Donation Election Fund to also help promote effective giving. In addition to funding these effective giving projects, in 2023, I've also supported the following:

With a baby due in March it’s time that me and my wife update our wills over the Christmas break. While doing so we’re going to be reviewing our bequests and will likely choose a mix of the new Giving What We Can cause area funds because they are much more likely to remain an effective option over the years than any more specific charity could.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to be in a position where I can improve the lives of others at a relatively low financial cost to myself (and a net happiness improvement!). I am deeply thankful to all the Giving What We Can members and donors who motivate me every single day by standing alongside me (and by sharing their motivations when they do too!).

Lorenzo Buonanno

Software Developer

I’ve been giving what I can since I started working full time in 2020[2]. Since taxation in Italy is relatively progressive (marginal tax rate of 43% above €50k/y, 35% above €28k/y), this year I mostly donated to Giving What We Can by capping my salary to €25k/y. I surprisingly received ~€6k in tax returns from the Netherlands (for my deductible donations in 2022, and because I was unemployed for a while last year while trying out community building in Italy). In addition, my grandfather passed away this year leaving me €3k in inheritance. So I was still able to make some donations[3]:

If I wasn’t helping run it, I would personally still donate to the Donor Lottery though.

Michael Townsend

Researcher

I pledged in 2018, and have been giving 10–20% of my income since, and aim to give away around 20% of my income in the long-run. Right now, I’m holding off on donations for the most part as I want to be able to save up some funds that I can use to support more ad-hoc opportunities that might otherwise be neglected by the funding ecosystem. If after another year or so, I don’t find any opportunities, I’ll likely give to a selection of GWWC’s new cause area funds (primarily giving to the Risks and Resilience Fund). With the help of ChatGPT I compiled a list of my donations historically here, though it’s missing some donations I’ve made to GiveWell Top Charities.

Figure

The reason for the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund being the opportunity I’ve supported the most was that I made one larger donation to it in after this update sharing that they had a large funding gap at the time (though they noted that Open Philanthropy may cover this shortfall, which I think may have happened — but I was happy for my donations to funge in this way).

Sjir Hoeijmakers

Director of Research

I took the Giving What We Can Pledge in 2019, and have been giving slightly over 10% since. I plan to continue giving ~10% on a yearly basis, but to ultimately give away any and all “surplus” wealth I accumulate over my lifetime (i.e. money I don’t really need for myself or the people around me to live happy lives).

I try to be risk-neutral in my donation decisions (i.e. only consider expected value), and generally look for funding opportunities that (1) have a particularly strong case for leverage, notwithstanding how speculative they may be (e.g. early-stage giving multipliers or patient philanthropy) and/or (2) that I may have some private/unique access to information about through my work and volunteering (e.g. Doneer Effectief, the Patient Philanthropy Fund). My personal philanthropic cause prioritisation can be summarised as “principles-first EA, with a longtermist leaning”, and I think some of the best opportunities on the margin can be found in EA meta, so direct a lot of my donations there.

I also consider the advocacy value of my donations: in my role, I’m often asked for where I’m personally giving, and I think it’s valuable for me to be able to represent various perspectives and types of reasoning when answering (only when I actually think they are plausible, of course). Relatedly, I try to “practice what I preach” / “put my money where my mouth is”, by often donating to projects I promote or otherwise spend time on in my work and volunteering (also only if I think the money is spent well on the margin). Lastly, I sometimes give to projects I can provide some value advising on, because I’ve noticed an (I think net positive) psychological effect of having “skin in the game” when doing so.

All of these considerations brought me to the following donation choices in 2022 and 2023 (including only donations that amount to at least ~10% of my yearly budget):

2022:

2023:

In 2024, I’m additionally considering taking a salary sacrifice because GWWC is in need of more funding, and I think it’ll be well spent. (/will try to make sure it is!)

  1. ^

    On top of my impact-focused giving, I also make a range of small donations for reasons other than impact that I don't count towards my pledge.

  2. ^

     Actually, I just found out in GiveWell’s new donor portal that my first donation was on 2020-02-09, a few months before I had my first full-time salary. Surprisingly before my first donation to MSF a few months later.

  3. ^

    Disclaimer: I haven’t thought much about cost-effectiveness this year, but all the projects I supported seem reasonably good, and I suspect that at the end of the day my donations to these orgs largely funge with OpenPhil and/or other larger donors.

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Executive summary: Giving What We Can team members share their 2023 donation plans to inspire thoughtful and impactful giving.

Key points:

  1. Several team members donate over 10% of income to effective charities and plan to continue doing so.
  2. Donations support a range of causes like global health, animal welfare, future risks, and EA infrastructure.
  3. Some donate to GWWC operations to fund work promoting effective giving.
  4. Tax optimization, bequest planning, and giving multipliers influence donation strategies.
  5. Sharing plans openly aims to inspire more giving and learn from each other.

 

 

This comment was auto-generated by the EA Forum Team. Feel free to point out issues with this summary by replying to the comment, and contact us if you have feedback.

Thank you all very much for sharing!

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