FAQs

We figured the most useful FAQs would be the questions you're likely to get as a chapter leader. However, if you have another FAQ and can't find the answer, drop us a note in Slack and we'll be delighted to help.

Easy

How do you know your charities are the most effective in the world?

We work with GiveWell, the top charity evaluator in the world, to determine our portfolio of charities. Givewell ranks their charities based on empirical evidence, and prioritizes what the data show above all else. The charities supported by Givewell participate in numerous experiments to test the relative effectiveness of different interventions for a given problem. These randomized-controlled trials (the gold standard for modern experiment design) have demonstrated time and time again that the interventions we support are the most effective in combating poverty-related death and suffering.

What are the origins of One for the World?

The effective altruism and effective giving movements, more generally, started around the 1980s, when philosophers and economists began to realize the potential good that could be achieved using data-driven empirical research into suffering and poverty. Peter Singer, called the most influential living philosopher, is one of the intellectual leaders of the movement and has had residences  at Princeton, Oxford, and other schools.[1] 

After the philosophical groundwork was laid, economists and non-profit organizers began to realize that effective altruism could be put into practice. For OFTW specifically, it was two Wharton MBA students who realized that if everyone in their graduating class donated 1% of their future earnings in the most effective way possible, they could save tens of thousands of lives. They took this idea and founded One for the World, which now operates internationally, has a full-time staff, and has 60+ chapters around the world.

How much money has One for the World directed to effective charities?

As of fall 2020, we’ve moved over $1 million to the most effective charities in the world, with the vast majority of dollars being from college students like us.

How big is One for the World?

We lead one of 60+ chapters at universities across the world with chapters in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. You can see a comprehensive list of our chapters here. The effective giving and effective altruism movements at large also span the globe, with think tanks, charity evaluators, professors, and NGOs working all over the globe.

Medium

How many people actually follow through with the pledge?

More than ⅔. The most reliable pledges are undergraduate  seniors and graduate  students.

How much does OFTW take off the top of my donation?

Nothing. Besides an industry standard processing fee (that goes to our donation platform, not OFTW), all of the money we receive goes directly to our charities. You can opt-in to donate some additional money to OFTW HQ (and you should! Experts suggest that the effective altruism movement itself is a high-impact cause), but this is entirely optional.

This isn’t addressing the root of the problem of poverty, so why should I support band-aid solutions?

While the underlying cause of global poverty is a combination of global capitalism, geographic access to resources, international neglect, etc., the suffering caused thereby can be mitigated and reduced very easily. How we got here is important, but we feel what is more important is saving lives and reducing suffering. We support political activism and advocating for large-scale, institutional change, and that’s not mutually exclusive with giving 1-5% of your income to mitigate the suffering to the most vulnerable people in the world.

I’m a supporter of EA, but I am more interested in existential risk and/or animal liberation, why should I give my money to global health and development?

While we wholeheartedly support allocating resources into all aspects of EA, we feel that

  1. Global health and Development is the most capital-dependent cause area. That is to say, biorisk and artificial intelligence governance are not solely based on funding and cash. Global poverty, on the other hand, is. So, while we would encourage those interested to seek careers in existential risk or animal welfare, we think your cash is best served towards our charities.
  2. OFTW is an accessible, low-commitment way to bring people into the EA movement. It’s unlikely that the majority of students on campus have the time or interest to read all of Singer or Bostrom’s books. They can, however, be taught about the foundational rationale behind EA through the lens of philanthropy and effective giving. For this reason, we think supporting OFTW is a great way to support the EA movement generally.

Hard

Is this not part of the “white savior” phenomenon?

Rather than spending thousands of dollars to go visit Africa, work with a charity for a week, and then leave, we are financially supporting local and community-led charities with as much capital as possible. Our emphasis is on impact, effectiveness, and saving lives. Many of us are indeed white and affluent. The effective giving movement is all about realizing the immense surplus of funds that all of us have–funds that could, for example, make a child completely immune to Malaria for $7.

Isn’t this (the standing banner) poster poverty porn?

This poster is actually showing one of our top charities, Helen Keller International, distributing a vitamin A supplement to a group of children to prevent blindness. HKI personally encouraged us to use their photos as much as possible, as they want to highlight the importance of eye health in the developing world. We feel that there is a distinction between showing a charity we directly work with, and random African children showcased only to garner sympathy from passersby. We want to highlight that, rather than just numbers, our impact affects actual people, and we hope that the pictures our charities provide us can do that.

This feels paternalistic. Who are you to tell me where I should donate or which causes I should support?

We aren’t trying to tell anyone what to do. We just know, empirically, that charities focused on global poverty and in the developing world get far less attention and funding than domestic charities, and we want to bring attention to causes where your dollar may go further. That being said, while we believe that all charity is good, all charity is not equal. If you feel particularly passionate about a local charity, we encourage you to volunteer and donate to them. We also feel that you should give 1% to the OFTW charities; the average american gives between 2-4% of their income to charities annually, so 1% of that could go to  our charities, and the rest to your passion projects. Another saying we like to champion is “work locally, give globally.”

Let me explain: do you think it would make sense for you to drop out of school, move to a developing country in the developing world, where you don’t speak the language and are ignorant to the culture, in order to work for one of these charities? Probably not. Due to your skills and experience in the U.S., your best fit for a career probably exists in the developed world. But, giving is independent of personal fit and experience, and should go to those most in need, no matter where they are.

What about Climate Change?

We obviously care about climate change, as it is a threat to all human life. One thing we like to highlight is that climate change is undoubtedly going to cause more harm to those in the developing world than those of us high-income countries, for example. So, in order to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change, we would argue that even more attention should be given to the global south and developing countries.

We also feel that solving the climate crisis is a multifaceted, complex, nebulous process that will take a combination of political activism, technological innovation, and shifts in cultural and behavioral practices. That isn’t to say that donations and cash is irrelevant to climate change mitigation efforts, but we would argue that your time and career may be better served towards climate change and other existential risks, but your cash and capital may be better served towards our charities, as cash is really the ultimate solution to many poverty-related issues.

TL;DR -  work for an environmental lobbying group, give 1-5% of your salary to our charities