Thanks Giving

Every year it feels like I have a little more to be thankful for: my family, my marriage, my work. I regret missing Thanksgiving with my parents and siblings this year, but am thankful that I have friends here in Boston to spend it with. We’re putting together a vegetarian/vegan feast! There are rumors of a tofurducken.

One of the many things I’m thankful for is meeting Chris. Our five year anniversary was nearly a month ago, and to celebrate we are dedicating 5% of our pre-tax income to charity. (We did the same last year, 4% for our fourth. Acquaintances ask “how is this going to scale?”, and I respond “I highly doubt I’ll live past 120.” (In truth, we may not be able to keep up once we have children, but for now, this is our ideal.))

So, why am I telling you? I know, it sounds like I’m bragging — I’m not actually trying to win any awards with this. I want to let you all know about my choices during this season of giving in the hopes that those of you who also feel lucky and generous might be similarly inspired.

The best giving is one which tries to have the best impact. Both of us have chosen a split along several organizations which have a significant impact on improving human lives, or which have an impact on social things which we believe have an important long term impact on the world.

My choices:

  • 5% to WBUR. Public radio has, since high school, shaped what I know and who I am. I hope others can hear as much about the world and develop an empathy for it, as I have.
  • 5% to Wikipedia. Knowledge is a foundational element to action, it is the cheapest form of empowerment. One of the most meaningful things I’ve done in my life is work together with Chris & other OLPC volunteeers to create an offline copy that has now been shipped on >100,000 laptops.
  • 5% to GiveWell. The GiveWell organization performs research into the effectiveness of various charities — in terms of human lives saved, rather than meaningless measures of “percent overhead”. Their research informs my last two choices.
  • 30% to MSF. Doctors without borders is a leading emergency response and has been highlighted by GiveWell for having the courage to publish self-critical analysis.
  • 55% to VillageReach. GiveWell has highlighted this vaccination charity as a highly effective impact on saving human lives in the developing world, including incidental infrastructure improvements — you can read more about it here.

Chris will post his own 100% split on his blog. We have averaged them and will be donating the money in the next few days. I’ve had the astounding luck to be given a life bountiful (at least… by global standards) in tangible and intangible wealth, and thankful that I’m able to give some of that back to world. To those of you who don’t feel able — I don’t encourage you to give right now, but to just think that someday, when you feel like you’re lucky and able, to think about it.

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