“Are you earning to give?”
This is invariably one of the first questions I get asked when meeting new people at Effective Altruism meetings, and it always makes me feel guilty.
“No,” I explain “I’m training as a speech and language therapist. I’ll be working in education or the NHS. I’m never going to be earning huge sums of money.”
The response I’ve had to this has been mixed. While often I get a warm response (and often a nice conversation about linguistics thrown in), I have had instances of people suggesting ways I could change career, or feel dismissed by a slightly patronising ‘how nice for you’.
Earning to give – choosing a very well paid career path in order to give vast sums away to effective charities – is often presented as the ultimate in Effective Altruism. You only have to look at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their astonishing work towards malaria eradication to see how following a very lucrative career path, carefully exploring the best options for giving, and then following through on this with great compassion and generosity, can yield astonishing results.