Oxford-based society reaches $250m in charity pledges | University of Oxford

Oxford-based society reaches $250m in charity pledges

Just four years after it was set up, an Oxford-based society aimed at ending global poverty has reached $250 million in pledges.

Giving What We Can was founded in December 2009 by Dr Toby Ord, a research fellow in the Oxford Martin School.

Part of the Centre for Effective Altruism within the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the society encourages people to pledge to donate at least 10% of their income to carefully chosen charities, selected for their effectiveness in relieving suffering in the developing world.

The society has reached the quarter of a billion dollar milestone thanks in large part to its latest major pledge – $75 million from the American philanthropist Jim Greenbaum, founder of the Greenbaum Foundation.

Toby OrdDr Toby Ord, who founded Giving What We Can four years ago
Credit: Giving What We Can

Dr Ord said: 'I'm delighted that Jim Greenbaum has chosen to make this pledge, and it's fantastic that so many others have also pledged to donate part of their income to some of the world's most effective charities.

'Giving What We Can received a considerable amount of media attention in early 2013, and since then we have expanded our membership and staff, and reached a number of important milestones.

'In January 2013 we welcomed our 300th member, and as of today we have 461. We have also reached $250 million in pledges, a significant amount of which was as a result of Jim Greenbaum's pledge.

'We have received several major donations to help with the running of Giving What We Can, including a donation of £90,000 from Fred Mulder, an art dealer and former Oxford philosophy student, and £120,000 over the next three years from Luke Ding, a financier and philanthropist.'

Giving What We Can, whose members include academics, students, teachers, doctors, lawyers and bankers, carries out research into the effectiveness of charities based on various measurable factors. It currently recommends four global aid projects to support: Against Malaria Foundation, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (focusing on neglected tropical diseases), Deworm the World, and Project Healthy Children.

Mr Greenbaum, who left the business world 15 years ago to focus on philanthropy, heard about the concept of effective altruism during a talk by the moral philosopher Peter Singer.

Mr Greenbaum said: 'I realised for the first time that the approach I had been taking towards philanthropy had a name, and that I should be trying to encourage more effective altruism in the world.

'The reason I decided to make my pledge to Giving What We Can was simple: for 15 years, I had already been doing what they were suggesting, and I wanted to encourage others to make similar pledges.'