Publicly pledging how much i’ll give to charity in 2019

The recent GiveWell blog on staff member’s personal donations for 2018 got me thinking on how I really need to get-onboard with publicly stating how I plan on donating my time, money and life choices around making the world a better place. I think stating it and keeping track of it will really help in making sure my goals are met in 2019. So here it goes!

Goals

1) Offset co2 emissions of my lifestyle

2) Decrease animal suffering from my diet

3) Donate 50% of all gross income over £40k to charity

4) Continue working for effective charities

5) Volunteer more often

Why bother?

I’ve never really cared for sharing how much I give to charity however I think stating it publicly and sharing it with others will provide good utility as it’ll allow me to formally get my thoughts on paper and feel socially obligated to follow through with it all. The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer also states:

We need to get over our reluctance to speak openly about the good we do. Silent giving will not change a culture that deems it sensible to spend all your money on yourself and your family, rather than to help those in greater need – even though helping others is likely to bring more fulfilment in the long run.

Research shows that when people know that others are giving, they are themselves more likely to give. So publicly pledging to give will encourage others to give. This holds true for billionaires and for those of us who aren’t anywhere near that level of wealth. We can all make a difference, and play our part in making the world a better place.

1) Offset co2 emissions of my lifestyle

I’m world travelling asshole, flying over 50,000 miles per year via plane and about 200-ish miles via scooter, it’s a bit crazy and a horrible waste of resources. To offset this I will calculate my co2 emissions for every flight and pay a carbon offsetting charity to negate the damage my lifestyle inflicts on the environment. I’ll also track the amount of miles I drive with my scooter and offset those 2x as the fuel i’m using in Bali is presumably low quality and therefore more damaging. Carbon offsetting will be considered a tax and I will not be counting this as charitable money - this is simply an asshole tax i’m giving myself.

2) Decrease animal suffering from my diet

I was brought up vegetarian however i’ve been eating meat for about 8 years now, since i started travelling and wanted an easier time finding food. By spending half of 2018 in Bali it was not only easy, but preferable to be vegan as it was so delicious, so making sure i’m in a country which enables me to be vegan is definitely the way to go.

It’s hard to promise anything as my diet vastly changes based on wherever i’m travelling and so I think i’ll dedicate a large amount of time into reading/researching animal ethics to help motivate me away from meat and dairy. I’ll also pledge to figure out some kind way of financially disincentivizing myself from eating meat and dairy by fining myself every time i consume something i shouldn’t, just like the “asshole tax” for co2 emissions. I’m not sure how much i’ll give, but i’ll make sure to send that money directly to an organisation fighting for animal ethics and exclude that from my “charitable donations” pot when looking at my finances. That way a cheeseburger would cost £50 instead of £5 and it wouldn’t count as a charitable donation.

3) Donate 50% of all gross income over £40k to charity

I tried giving to the most effective charities in 2018 however somewhat lost motivation as it didn’t provide me any warm fuzzies. I think a good motivator will be to simply track everything in a spreadsheet as making it all quantifiable will act as a good mechanism to provide me a clear feedback loop of the good i’m doing. In 2019 I intend on giving 50% of all income above £40k to charity, that’s all income I make, regardless of my costs or expenses. 80% will to go effective charities and the remaining 20% will go to charities or projects close to me where I have an emotional connection to it’s cause.

4) Continue working for effective charities

I’ve been working with rethink charity rebuilding their eahub.org website which has been hugely rewarding. They’ve expressed interest in working on other projects with me too and I love working with them as they provide a great community of like-minded altruistic co-workers. I’m also very well suited for the job, so feeling highly valued is a good motivator.

I’m charging $350/week which is about a 10th my usual price. I’ll stick with that for now and promise at-least 1 week each month. My main issue here it that I need to work on other less-motivating projects on the side to maintain my ability to work for rethink. Ideally I can get rethink to pay me $350+/day which should enable me to 2-3x how much time I dedicate towards them. We’ve only been working together for 2 months though, so i’ll continue to play this by ear.

5) Volunteer more often

I also want to volunteer at at-least one organisation every month or two in a physical way. This doesn’t need to be effective or even at a charity, but the goal here is to emotionally get a nice kick out of doing something good. Mostly for my own enjoyment, meeting new people and still having an altruistic impact on others. This is another point i won’t worry too much about quantifying or making sure i perfectly hit. Helping people is a fun activity, so let’s try doing that more often and see what happens.