January 2015

We hope you'll enjoy reading our January newsletter, including recent honors and accomplishments from our recommended charities, picks about giving that our Team thinks you'll enjoy, and Charlie's reflections on our current activities.

In January's Issue


Charity Voices

AMF's 99,000 milestone; NIH award for Possible; relief for women of all ages via Fistula Foundation; GiveDirectly's Google grant; and awards, transparency and scale at SCI.


Team Picks

Canadian researchers' share insightful articles about happiness from and psychology of charitable giving; Dean Karlan's take on micro-finance vs. micro-savings and on proven charities; recommendation of an impactful book on Impact Investing.


Supporter Story

Brad Hurley found liberation and empowerment in giving through "The Singer Effect."


This Month in Giving

Take time in January to volunteer, and to advocate for an end to human trafficking.


Highlights from Our Blog

Marketing with evidence, not stories; Our expanded charity recommendations; Impactful year-round gift giving; Sparking joy by bigger giving.


Closing Thoughts from the Executive Director

Broadening our outreach in 2015.

Charity Voices
Five of our recommended charities share recent highlights.
Against Malaria Foundation
They've got 99,000 and they hope you're one

We have just had our 99,000th donation thanks to a family in Normal, USA and we are looking forward to celebrating the 100,000th soon.

Aside from the occasional marvellous large donation, the majority of AMF's funds come from donors giving less than $100, and we are incredibly grateful for every single one of them. We never forget that every $3 buys a net and every person covered by a net is potentially a life saved. Together with the donors responsible for these 99,000 donations, we have built a community that will keep the fight against malaria high on the international agenda so we can continue to make progress against malaria, saving many lives, reducing illness and boosting economic growth.

There is a still a significant gap between the funding available for nets and the net need. We are aiming to secure a further US$20+m for the projects we are currently considering. Please consider helping us reach that goal in 2015.

2014 Capped off with NIH Award, Annual Report and Possibilist Campaign

This fall, Possible's Chief Programs Officer Dr. Duncan Maru was awarded an Early Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) —the largest source of funding for medical research in the world.

Why it matters: More scientific data needs to be developed to enable policy makers and managers to better design and evaluate programs within global health. Without data to drive performance, healthcare systems tend to become more complex, costly, and harmful over time.

What we're doing with the funding: The funding will be used to scientifically assess aspects of our rural healthcare delivery model. We are developing an integrated electronic medical record that will enable us to track patients from hospital, to clinic, to home, and back. We are also developing a comprehensive health surveillance system that enables us to evaluate population level impact and prepare our team (and, eventually, Nepal) for epidemic threats like cholera, influenza, and ebola.

The award caps off a year in which our team worked tirelessly to prove it's possible to deliver high-quality, low-cost healthcare to the poor. I'm proud of the results, which we share in our new 2014 Annual Impact Report: (A quote/photo of Peter Singer is on page 10 :)

If you're compelled by it, the most impactful action you can take is to become a monthly funder to build Nepal's first rural teaching hospital:

Please email me directly with any questions, and happy holidays!


Mark Arnoldy CEO | Possible @markarnoldy

Fistula Foundation
Life-changing relief for women of all ages

Jacinta lived with obstetric fistula in isolation and shame since 1983. But just a few months ago, at 57, Jacinta received free fistula surgery through the Action on Fistula Program in Kenya. Action on Fistula is a comprehensive three-year initiative run by Fistula Foundation, funded by Astellas Pharma EMEA, that is working to deliver life-changing surgery to 1,200 women and lay the foundation for continuous and lasting availability of fistula treatment in Kenya!

Your support in 2015 (and beyond) will help more women like Jacinta, as well as provide surgery for younger women so they are healed and able to re-enter society without suffering for decades as so many have done.

Google support through funds and video.

GiveDirectly recently received a $2M grant from, one of its earliest and largest funders. Check out this video featuring some of GiveDirectly's recipients in Kenya, created by Google as part of its campaign to promote giving during the holiday season.

Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI)
Awards, accountability, alliances.

TLYCS congratulates Professor Alan Fenwick OBE, Director of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, who has been honoured with the Mike Fisher Memorial Award for 2014, honouring outstanding individual contributions to global science and scientific achievement that has had an impact on the lives of people.

November and December were exciting months for SCI.

We have made our case for the increased funding which will be necessary over the next few years to leverage the 250 million tablets of praziquantel being donated by Merck KGaA from 2016. These tablets are enough to treat over 100 children per year in Africa and the most we have ever achieved so far is 40 million per year. We must mobilise funding, advocate with governments and be ready to go within a year.

SCI has strengthened its accountability by hiring a new Finance Director and a new "Value for Money" Officer to ensure quality feedback to our donors.

The recent visit to the SCI offices by a Givewell team to evaluate SCI and the subsequent recommendation of SCI as a top charity has certainly helped to kick start our fundraising campaign as Good Ventures made a donation of $3 million on the strength of the Givewell report. We have also been "adopted" by the US company Maxmind who have sent funding to allow us to expand our coverage in Ethiopia. We are most grateful.

Looking back over 2014, we reflect on the new "Global Schistosomiasis Alliance" launched on 13th December in Addis Ababa. Lorenzo Savioli (ex-WHO), David Molyneux (CNTD Liverpool) and Alan Fenwick (SCI Director) have pledged to make this alliance a success, and make Merck KGaA proud of their donation through the World Health Organisation of so many praziquantel tablets. Together we will improve the lives of children in rural Africa and protect them from long term suffering.

Please take a look at our December 2014 newsletter for updates on our many in-country activity and treatment support register. Here are just a few examples:

  • In Burundi, the entire country was remapped to determine the remaining pockets of schistosomiasis and STH infection. A plan for elimination of schistosomiasis is being drawn up.
  • In Cote d'Ivoire: 3.5 million school aged children (SAC) in 47 districts received treatment in November/December 2014.
  • In Tanzania: six regions (Mara, Kagera, Geita, Shinyanga, Kigoma, Simiyu) that have never received treatment are scheduled to receive MDA in 2015.
Team Picks
Psychological studies and expert advice links to items about Giving that our staff has found impactful.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Lara Aknin (assistant professor of social psychology at Simon Fraser University) and Ashley Whillans (an advanced graduate student in social psychology at the University of British Columbia) in Vancouver, Canada. Below is some of the work they think is important in understanding how giving makes one a happier person. They are exceptionally bright, wonderful people and they are producing important work that is helpful to all of us in the movement of effective philanthropy. Both of them have worked with Liz Dunn, author of Happy Money, a book that shines a light on work that demonstrates that giving makes one happier.

Charlie Bresler
Executive Director

Research on Factors that Promote Charitable Giving:

  1. People like to know the tangible difference they have made (Cynthia Cryder, Washington University)
  2. People like to feel that they have put effort into generosity (Chris Olivola, Carnegie Mellon)
  3. Motives Matter: Mixed motives decrease giving of time and money (Adam Grant, Wharton)

UBC research on Spending Money on Others and Happiness:

  1. Spending money on others promotes happiness
    Experimental evidence that spending on others leads to greater happiness than spending on one's self.
  2. Happiness runs in a positive feedback loop
    Spending on others leads to happiness, which leads to subsequent generosity.
  3. How to unleash the emotional benefits of prosocial behavior
    This paper shows that the more impact people feel they have had while giving, the more likely they are to gain happiness benefits from their spending experiences.

Also, this news article (where our joint work was recently featured) might provide some additional sources of great information.

Dean Karlan of Innovations for Poverty Action shares his thoughts on popular interventions and his personal approach to giving.

Jon Behar
Director of Philanthropy Education

I'm reading Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference. I received this book as a gift, welcoming me to the team at Nonprofit Finance Fund. Can we do good while turning a profit? If you want to explore where the line between charity and capitalism is blurring, this books offers a global overview of emerging systems and investment vehicles that are reaching for a "blended value" bottom line.

Claire Knowlton
Board President

Supporter Story
Brad Hurley

Brad Hurley

Finding impact and excitement in giving.

In December 2006, a provocative headline on the New York Times website caught my eye: "What Should a Billionaire Give - and What Should You?" The article was by Professor Peter Singer, and it made me start thinking critically about my own giving.

I had been giving to charities for most of my life, usually token amounts and without much thought. I gave to organizations that worked on issues I cared about, but I did so more out of a sense of duty than anything else. I wasn't excited about my giving.

Professor Singer's article showed me that I could take things to a new level and have a real impact on real people's lives. In fact, I learned, I could even save lives. The article inspired me to nearly double my annual giving.

In 2009, Professor Singer published his book, The Life You Can Save. I found his arguments so compelling and convincing that I decided to make giving a much higher priority in my life, and to focus on giving more effectively. I doubled my annual giving again, and started giving to charities recommended in The Life You Can Save. By 2011 I was giving 10 times more than I gave when I read Professor Singer's New York Times article in 2006.

But I was faced with the competing financial goals of paying down our mortgage and saving for retirement. I balanced them as best I could, but I didn't have a very disciplined approach. What can I say: I'm human. My giving declined in 2012. Frustrated by missing my goals, I decided to set up a budget. I learned about the "You Need a Budget" method, whose first rule is to "Give every dollar a job." I worried that living under a budget would be restricting and stressful, but instead found it liberating and empowering. My budget also revealed a lot of opportunities to reduce costs, and the next year I managed to make my giving soar to more than 10% of my gross income, while still meeting my retirement and mortgage payoff goals. And we didn't suffer.

The dollars I devote to giving are doing some of the most valuable jobs dollars can do: improving the lives of people in need. I sometimes joke to friends that The Life You Can Save is a dangerous book to read if you want to hang on to your money. But even if I have a bit less money available for me now, I'm richer by far in the knowledge that somewhere, someone has a future thanks in part to me - and to the Singer Effect.

This Month in Giving
11th January

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

The International Labour Organization estimates that 20.9 million people today are victims of forced labour globally, and of these, millions who are victims of trafficking. Started in 2011 through President Obama's declaration of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, this day is now observed by many non-government organizations dedicated to bringing this widespread and critical abuse to the attention of the United States and the world.

19th January

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service -- #MLKDay

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: "What are you doing for others?" The King Day of Service breaks down barriers and brings people together who might not ordinarily meet, to help out in their communities. Go to sites like to find volunteer opportunities in your area, and go to to find a list of organizations where your donation will help those farther away, living in the worst poverty.

Highlights from Our Blog

IPA delivers data for discerning donors

I'm breaking all the marketing rules I learned, and sharing links to data rather than to stories. It's what you, our partners and donors, have asked for. Nicholas Kristof calls us "economist geeks" for a reason: we know that's who we are. And you're reading this on The Life You Can Save blog, you are already on board with making the most effective investments you can...

Read More

Peter Singer's Best Charities for 2015

We are happy to announce The Life You Can Save's 2015 recommended charities. As you know, there are many great charities effectively reducing suffering and premature death among the poorest people in the world. We are confident that the ones we recommend are among the most effective and they are ones we personally feel great about donating to ourselves...

Read More

7 Ways to Rock Your Gifts Year Round

We all know the feeling: It's ten days until Christmas and there's that one aunt, that one friend you haven't yet found a present for. Maybe you kept looking for the perfect gift. Maybe the person is one of those people who are notoriously hard to buy for. Or maybe you're a last-minute person and you're still urgently looking for presents...

Read More

Try giving larger and see how it feels

When you make a significant donation, there's a sense of contributing to a mission, of making a tangible impact, of feeling like you count. You don't have to give a lot to make a difference, but if you can afford to give more you can help improve the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people. That feels like a privilege, not a sacrifice...

Read More
Closing Thoughts from the Executive Director
Charlie Bresler - Director of The Life You Can Save

This "Giving Season" the Team at The Life You Can Save has been hard at work. Some of this work is invisible, but much of it you can see on our website and in social media. We have also been developing an exciting new piece of content that we will launch in January and that I think will be tremendously helpful in demonstrating to donors the amazing impact they are making when they give to our recommended charities. More on this to come...

Personally, I have been broadening our public relations, including new channels to enhance awareness of, and donations to, our charities and also to support effective philanthropy education in general. I believe these efforts will bear fruit in 2015 and beyond. I have written articles for "Forbes Online" and "The Aspen Times" and visited Aspen to give a talk on "Creating a Culture of Effective Philanthropy." While there, I was also interviewed on local radio (please forgive the chauvinistic Seattle Seahawks banter).

I hope to talk about "Creating a Culture of Effective Philanthropy" in several cities in 2015 as part of our goal to encourage and support The Life You Can Save affinity groups that will spread the word about effective philanthropy and our recommended charities. Our Team is also organizing a range of media appearances to support our mission.

As we move into 2015, we are excited about the possibilities for growing effective giving. I want to express my gratitude to the Team for their dedication, hard work, creativity, and commitment to "walk the talk" and achieving personal bests in their giving and their work. Of course, I want to thank Peter Singer for his inspiration and support of our team. Here is to 2015 being a year filled with personal bests and Good Giving and Good Living.

Charlie Bresler is Executive Director of The Life You Can Save, an organization founded by the philosopher Peter Singer and based on the basic tenet of Effective Altruism: leading an ethical life involves using a portion of personal wealth and resources to efficiently alleviate the effects of extreme poverty.

The Life You Can Save is a 501(c)(3) - an official non-profit registered with the United States Internal Revenue Service. Donations to The Life You Can Save are tax-deductible to individuals filing taxes in the U.S.

The Life You Can Save, 10540 NE Morning Lane, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, USA
Join us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Read our Flipboard Magazine
Copyright © The Life You Can Save, 2014