Effective altruism – how one family puts the philosophy into practice

In June 2017, my family committed to giving away 5 percent of our monthly earnings. At the end of every month, we’d sit as a family, including our two kids who at the time were in their early teens, and work out what we’d earned that month and how much we had to give. We’d then go through the effective charities recommended on The Life You Can Save website and choose which organization to support with that month’s donation.

The “smart giving” focus of The Life You Can Save charities, coupled with the quantitative nature of the information available through their website, completely appealed to me.

It comforts me that rigorous research was conducted by experts on the organizations we donate to. Research that proves their programs and projects are effective. That our money will be well-used to help the world’s poorest people.

Through the Impact Calculator on The Life You Can Save website, we could work out every month what our family’s impact was. For example, one month, we provided 290 bed nets to protect up to 580 people in malaria-stricken areas from infected mosquitoes for up to three years. It is an immensely satisfying way of donating.

Fast-forward through several years of giving, and my interest in effective altruism led me to found my “love project”, Write the World notebooks.

I was in the shower when I had the idea for the project. I don’t know about you, but I find that’s where my best ideas tend to happen.

It’s a simple idea: we produce gorgeous notebooks and sell them online to raise money to tackle issues around global poverty. Every $10 notebook purchased becomes a $10 donation to one of The Life You Can Save’s recommended charities. The project is funded by my family with the money we previously donated directly to the charities.

Since launching in late 2019, Write the World notebooks have raised more than $100,000 for effective charities tackling global poverty. The cost of producing the notebooks is funded by our family, which is how we can donate the entire purchase price of $10 to charity. We hope to attract print sponsors to the project as it grows.

Once again, immensely satisfying.

I jokingly call it the “love project”. But it’s such an apt name for it because there’s so much I love about it.

Selfishly, I love that it allows me to use my professional skills – working with specialists such as designers and printers, creating, writing, implementing, organizing. Who knew that doing good could be so much fun?

I love that it has increased my horizons, allowing me to talk to and meet interesting people I wouldn’t have otherwise come across. It’s broadening my own world, while hopefully making a small positive difference to others.

And I love that the idea has been so positively embraced by so many people, including the amazing artists, designers and photographers who have donated their images to use on the notebook covers. It’s a project that seems to bring out the best in people.

Kate Tapping is a Melbourne-based freelance communications specialist. Outside corporate work she is interested in effective altruism, running for mental health, and learning to become a mediocre surfer.

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