As the New Year approaches people are beginning to think about their New Year resolutions. I still haven’t decided mine so I’d love suggestions in the comments. I have weekly and monthly goals and a Day Zero List to keep up with so I already have a few resolutions to keep.
One thing I would thoroughly recommend as a New Year’s resolution is to pledge a percentage of your income to charity. Last New Year I took the Giving What We Can Try Giving pledge and donated 5% of my pre-tax income to the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative.
This felt like such a valuable contribution I soon took the full Giving What We Can 10% pledge and I’ve not looked back since.
According to the latest estimates in 2012, 12.7 percent of the world’s population lived at or below $1.90 a day. That’s around 896 million people.
Statistics like this – especially when I feel so fortunate – make me think about charity. But so many scare stories about international development had made me think that there was nothing I could do. That’s why recommendations by Give Well and Giving What We Can have been so helpful. By giving more effectively I know my donations are having more impact.
12.7 percent of people may live below $1.90 a day but that’s down from 37 percent in 1990 and 44 percent in 1981.
This just goes to show what can be achieved.
In the developing world we are in the incredibly fortunate position of having the resources to tackle issues like extreme poverty.
One thing that really persuaded me to pledge my income was seeing how rich I am compared to many in the world today. Just put your income in here to see for yourself.
On a moderate Senior Event Coordinator income I am in the top 3.5% richest in the world, 22 times the global average. Even donating 10% of my income I’m still in the top 4.2%. Every time I use this tool I just cannot get over this.
Most importantly this means that – as I give to the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative – I fund more than 2901 deworming treatments each year. That’s the equivalent of saving a life.
What could be a better thing to pledge to do in 2016?
What has been the impact on me?
For some people giving away 10% of their income seems no big deal, many people I’ve spoken to said they found it easy. Particularly people who took the pledge as students and never began spending that 10% it probably wasn’t much of an adjustment
I’ll be honest, whilst my wages have gone up since I left university I have somehow come to easily spend the difference! I never really felt like I was spending more or living more luxuriously but somehow the pay packet still disappears. So for me I was a little unsure as to what impact donating 10% of my income would be.
I can honestly say though it has been much easier than I expected. I set up a monthly direct debit so the money leaves as soon as I am paid each month. It was hard at first seeing that gap but like anything we adjust with time. I suppose just as I adjusted to an increased salary I can adjust to a decreased one too.
I’ve written previously about how to save money. Probably the tips that have most helped me have been around food. Just simple things like eating less takeaways and bring snack with me when I’m out for the day rather than buying lunch out have really added up.
I still use a rather rudimentary app for budgeting which helps me keep on top of my spending but is hard to pull data from. So this is a very approximate idea of where my money goes. A lot goes on bills and and travelling (my car) but I still manage to save up a lot! I buy myself things – fun item means something I just wanted with no practical purpose like the entire boxset of Castle on DVD!
Sometimes it can feel frustrating when I want to buy something and I think if I only I had that extra 10% I could. I can’t even tell you what those things are now though, I forget after a few weeks so they can’t be that important! And I’ve never come across anything I would value more than other people’s health and well-being.
I’m not surprised that the fifth largest proportion of my spending is on going out. I probably buy less physical things that I don’t need but I always make sure I have the money to go and spend time with friends and family. I perhaps buy less expensive meals, have more tap water and less alcohol but it’s never stopped me having fun!
Meanwhile I’ve become part of a wonderful, ever growing community of people giving to causes they feel make a difference. Anything from animal charities to research into the areas where we can have the most positive impact on the world. All of which can be logged in the My Giving section on Giving What We Can (whilst that’s where I donate, it’s not all about global poverty!).
New Year resolutions
So if I were to recommend one New Year’s resolution giving more to charity and giving more effectively would be it. It makes a huge difference to others and had relatively little impact on my spending or social life.
Last year a successful Facebook event by Ravi saw many people pledging 10% of their income (or 1% for students, pensioners and the unemployed) to effective charities as a New Year’s resolution. This year Giving What We Can are hoping for a bigger and better event and you can be part of it.
Even if you’ve already taken the pledge or are not quite there yet there are plenty of things you can do.
If you or your loved ones are looking for a New Year’s resolution with a lasting, positive impact why not pledge to give. Here’s to a great 2016.