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It might be that your current situation means that you don't feel ready to pledge 10% at the current time. Whatever your reason, the easiest way to become a part of the Giving What We Can community is through the Give More Tomorrow Pledge. What's special about this pledge is that you never have to live on less than your current income. You specify a start date and a base level of income (usually your current income level). In most cases, the start date will be immediate and the baseline will be your current income level. You'll never be required to give in a way that would take you below your baseline, and you ease into giving 10% as your income increases over time.
The following graph illustrates this.
This graph shows someone whose income in 2011 is $20,000, which is when she takes the Give More Tomorrow Pledge. The amount this person gives is represented by the light blue area. Her total income increases to $21,000 in 2012, and $22,000 in 2013. In these years, she'll give $1000 and $2000, respectively, which is not yet 10% of her earnings. The following year, she makes $24,000 and gives $2400. This way, her standard of living never decreases.
Give More Tomorrow Pledge
I recognise that I can use part of my income to do a significant amount of good in the developing world. Since I can live well enough on a smaller income, I pledge that from [start date] until the day I retire, I shall give either ten percent of what I earn, or everything over [baseline income level], to whichever organizations I believe will most effectively use it to help people in developing countries. I make this pledge freely, openly, and without regret.
This is a serious commitment and it is important to think carefully before taking it. Here are some things to think about, if you have any questions and can’t find the answer here please
- Will this make me a member of GWWC?
- What about tax?
- What about inflation?
- What organisations are most effective?
- What about students and those not earning a wage?
- What about retirement?
Giving What We Can is based around a pledge to donate at least 10% of your income to wherever you think it can do the most to help those living in extreme poverty. For this reason, those who take the Give More Tomorrow Pledge are not officially considered members until they eventually take the Pledge to Give (the 10% pledge) also, at which point the Give More Tomorrow Pledge will become effectively redundant. Those who take just the Give More Tomorrow Pledge are still welcomed into our community; for example, they are given access to our members’ private forum. You are also welcome to re-take the Give More Tomorrow Pledge at a later date with a lower baseline.
By income, we mean just your salary or wages, prior to income tax being deducted. Thus, if you earn $30,000 in a year before tax, you would be required to give $3,000 or the difference between $30,000 and your baseline. Depending on your country and choice of charity, you may well get a form of tax deduction for your giving (in the UK this takes the form of Gift Aid or Payroll Giving). Thus, the real cost of giving, say, 10% may be less than it first appears. This is fine. What counts is that the charity receives an amount equal to 10% of your income, or your income minus your baseline figure. Of course you are more than welcome to instead make a correspondingly larger donation so that you end up paying the full amount specified by the pledge out of your own pocket and the government's assistance effectively goes to the charity. Note that we don’t officially include interest or capital gains as income.
If we didn't adjust for inflation, then the baseline would get smaller each year in real terms. The number of dollars thus needs to be increased in line with inflation, so as to keep the value of the baseline constant.
By making the pledge you commit to giving your donations to the charity or charities that you think can best use it to eliminate suffering in the developing world. Some charities aim to do this directly, through medical or food aid; some do so indirectly by fighting the root causes of poverty via education or local governance; some do so at an even higher level by lobbying for fairer trade or more foreign aid. You are free to support charities operating at any level, so long as you sincerely believe that the chosen charity offers the most effective way of eliminating the hardships of life in extreme poverty.
The difference in the amount of good that charities can achieve for a given donation is staggering: some medical interventions are known to be more than 1,000 times as efficient as others.
For more details and recommendations on specific charities see here.
The Pledge only commits people to give until they retire. This was done to allow members a bit more financial security in their later years, and thus to make it easier to give during their working lives. People who retire while members of Giving What We Can remain 'honorary' members and valued parts of our community, though they are no longer required to give.
While we did not anticipate that people might wish to join after they had already retired, a number of people have asked about this and we now have a way of allowing them to do so. People who have retired or partially retired (which we roughly define as having started to draw a pension) can join Giving What We Can and remain members for as long as they continue to donate at least 10% of their spending money (as defined in the section above).
If you have any further questions about this pledge, please
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