People Who Give: Stories of people pledging to donate effectively. Discover their motivations, recommendations, and more.

by lukefreeman3 min read23rd Oct 2020No comments


Giving What We CanEffective altruism lifestyleMotivationalDonation pledgeCommunity

Over the past few months we've been profiling members of Giving What We Can. It's been lovely to get to meet more people who've made giving a meaningful part of their lives, to understand more about their motivations and what makes them tick.

Here are some excerpts from the last few stories.

Catherine Thomas - October 2020 

Catherine is a PhD student in social and cultural psychology from California who has worked in global health and international development for 11 years.

I just think that I, as a middle-class white person in the US, have been given more advantages than 99% of the world. A lot of those advantages have been economic. I should be redistributing more of my wealth, which was not necessarily earned.


I like the idea that people will give together. I hope the pledge will start to build that social norm toward redistribution, specifically for basic needs and effective charities.


Logistically, I also like Giving What We Can because it helps me track my giving. I just add my donations there, so when the time comes for my taxes, I can see what I gave.

Giving What We Can is public and accountable, and I feel like I'm a small part of what is hopefully a growing movement. I especially hope it will grow among middle-class white people in the US to counter income inequality.


I appreciate that there's this mechanism that facilitates the giving process really easily. It makes me feel more whole — less divided — as an individual because it aligns my values with my actions.


I also work on universal basic income because it has the potential to create more inclusive narratives about people who live in poverty. Here in the US, we have very individualizing, victim-blaming narratives about people who receive aid. I think that in part undergirds our dwindling support for redistribution. So I care about changing these narratives from a moral perspective.

Pablo Ollier - September 2020

Pablo is a philosophy teacher and competitive chess player from Clermont-Ferrand, France.

I think that people unfamiliar with giving not only miss out on the positive impact that we can have on the lives of others, but also the positive impact on ourselves. There is a strong satisfaction in doing what you think is good!


The Giving What We Can Pledge helps me in giving efficiently and regularly. Together with Effective Altruism Funds, it is easy to make donations and track the progress of my pledge.


I try to make my students familiar with the basic principles of ethics in general and utilitarianism in particular. With the help of the Ancient Greek philosophers, I try to transmit the 2,500-year-old idea that the pursuit of money may well not be such a brilliant goal in life.


I like the fact that those cash transfers are unconditional. The philosophical idea behind it is to try and break the link between work and property.

Heather McLaughlin - July 2020

Heather is a retired teacher from Taree (a country town in Australia).

I'm motivated to give because of the simple fact that purely by luck, I have had health, modest wealth, and opportunity, while many others don't.


Giving What We Can provides a clear way to structure my donations and keep track of what I do. I also really appreciate being part of a large worldwide group of people who share many of my concerns.


I have run a 'Giving Game' (and hope to do more), given talks on Effective Altruism and microcredit, organised local fundraising concerts, and have been involved with lots of online activity (such as petitions).


I would love to get other older people involved in the concept of donating a specified percentage of income to effective organisations. I would love to meet others who have taken the Pledge. I would love to see a broad-based group of people committed to effective giving.

Giving What We Can members come from a diverse range of backgrounds and locations, give for many different reasons, and give to organisations in many different cause areas. If you would like to inspire others by sharing your story please let us know.

For a full list of stories and quotes, check out our case studies page.


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