How to Keep Your Pledge (1)

How to Keep Your Pledge (1)

You’ve taken the pledge. You’re going to give a percentage of your income to effective charities working to save and improve the lives of those living in extreme poverty. Nicely done! 

But now what?

Three and a half years ago, I took the same public pledge. Keeping it has been easier than I thought it would be, thanks to some tips and tricks I picked up along the way. Every week, I’ll be sharing a strategy that worked for me or another fellow pledger. 

If you have a giving strategy that you’d like to share on this blog, email it to


Strategy 1: Match your luxury spending

This was the most effective strategy for me when I first started giving. For some reason, $20 given away felt like a lot more than $20 spent on myself. I found it surprisingly hard to give away my first 1% donation (which was $450). I sat on my donation for months, trying to drum up the inner strength to send it to The Fistula Foundation. It wasn’t until I made a cosmetic fix on my car that the true value of my donation came into focus. The unnecessary car repair cost about $450: the same price as one vaginal fistula surgery. Did I really value the appearance of my car more than I valued the well-being of another woman? Of course not! But I needed to act on my values. Suddenly, giving away $450 wasn’t so hard. I mailed my donation the same day.

If you’re having trouble making that first donation, try matching your giving to your spending. Every time you purchase a luxury, spend the same amount on a donation. You’ll have to decide for yourself what counts as a luxury. It could be the purchase of shoes, clothes, jewelry, alcohol, travel, a night at the movies, even a cup of coffee. You might consider your monthly cable bill a luxury. Whatever your criteria, add up your luxury purchases and give an equal amount to the effective charity you’ve selected. 


We all handle money differently, and our relationship with money changes overtime. You know best what strategy will work for you. Mix and match the strategies on this blog, or come up with your own. Just keep giving!

Have you found a great way to keep your pledge? Share it with us!


Claire Knowlton is President of the Board for The Life You Can Save. She lives in Los Angeles and works as an accountant and auditor of nonprofit organizations.

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About the author:

Claire Knowlton

Claire Knowlton, President of the Board for The Life You Can Save, is an independent auditor of not-for-profit organizations in the United States. She shares her Los Angeles apartment with a physicist, a fluffy cat, and a window garden.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.