When considering poverty in the developing world, many people feel deep sorrow but conclude that there is nothing we can do. The scale of poverty is immense and we seem powerless to stop it. Such despair is understandable, but the facts tell a very different story. While poverty is indeed extreme and widespread, it is easy to forget just how many people there are in the developed world, and how powerful our pocket change can become when pooled together.
When giving to an effective charity, the size of your donation directly correlates with the number of people you are able to help. But you don't have to be a millionaire to make a significant difference; even small donations have the potential to drastically improve an individual's quality of life.
Buys one insecticide-treated bed net, to protect against mosquito-borne malaria.
Buys one cataract surgery, to restore a person's sight.
Funds one fistula surgery, to repair obstetric injuries due to complications during childbirth.
There are hundreds of non-profits that you can choose to give to, and the process of selecting which organization to support can feel like a daunting task. But you don't have to do all the research yourself. Peter Singer personally compiles The Life You Can Save's list of recommended charities based on extensive research and analysis performed by organizations like Innovations for Poverty Action, GiveWell and Giving What We Can. These are the charities we recommend:
Effective interventions can break the cycle of poverty for the world's neediest people. Preventing and fighting diseases can keep children healthy and in school. Effective healthcare allows parents to continue supporting their families when they might otherwise have to care for sick children or themselves be disabled by debilitating illness. Aid provides those living in extreme poverty with the essential resources necessary to attain a better standard of living.
Poverty is a problem that has proven solutions, and giving plays a crucial role in combating extreme poverty. According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) , dramatically fewer people today are living in extreme poverty than just a few decades ago.
When we read statistics about the number of people living in extreme poverty, the scale of suffering can seem immense. But the facts about aid and relief distribution tell a very different story. While 702 million people live on less than $1.90 a day, those of us living in the developed world have significant collective resources at our disposal. Focusing solely on the U.S., it would take just $3 per American citizen to come up with a billion dollars of aid money.
How much money per year would we need to meet the most basic health and nutritional requirements of the world's neediest people?
There is enough money in the developed world to easily meet the most basic needs of the world's poorest people, many times over. It is possible to give without diverting resources from educational or healthcare programs in the developed world, and without making any significant impact on the quality of life for potential donors.
Research has shown that spending money on ourselves does not significantly increase our sense of happiness or wellbeing. A Harvard Business School study suggests that giving to others is directly correlated with an increased sense of happiness. The Harvard researchers write: "Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop."
Other studies have shown that people experience pleasure when they see money go to charity—even if this money isn't their own. People experience the most pleasure, however, when they give directly to charity themselves.
The Life You Can Save is a movement of people fighting extreme poverty. We hold that an ethical life involves using some of our wealth and resources to save and improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
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