I’ve been making playful things all my life. Playful videos, playful music, playful performances. I have a deep drive to rejoice in nonsense, to celebrate the absurdities of life and bring joy to people’s hearts with silliness and humour. This relentless playfulness eventually found a generous home when I got a job writing music for Cartoon Network’s show Clarence. Having been living off peanuts (actually mostly baked beans) for a long time, I found myself earning a decent living writing ridiculous (and awesome) music for television. Not only that, but I started getting paid royalties for LITERALLY SLEEPING while my music is played all over the world.
It didn’t seem fair to me, really. My general living costs are low and, aside from the odd musical instrument, my tastes are inexpensive. I don’t need much money to live well and be happy, and I would feel uncomfortable fostering a more lavish lifestyle while so many people in the world are languishing in extreme poverty. So I found myself with a surplus of money that I wanted to put to good use.
But how? I had grown distrustful of major charities as I wasn’t sure how effective their actions were in practise, or how much money actually went to the right place rather than being frittered on bloated administration and marketing costs. I wanted to be sure that any money I donated would be put to the best use possible. This began a chain of exploration into effective giving starting at GiveWell and leading to Will MacAskill’s book Doing Good Better, then to Giving What We Can, the wider Effective Altruism community, and ultimately to The Life You Can Save – both the organisation and the book.
I was thrilled to find this incredible collection of people and organisations dedicated not only to doing good, but to doing the most good possible. I felt somewhat relieved that someone else was doing the hard work figuring out the most effective ways to save or improve lives across the world, and grateful I could contribute financially to help their efforts and start saving lives myself!
I decided at that point I would commit to donating a minimum of 10% of my earnings each year to effective charities, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to donate thousands of pounds annually for the past 5 or 6 years. I hope to continue doing so far into the future!
At the start of this year, I was reflecting on my skills and feeling slightly disappointed that I wasn’t using them more directly to help somehow. So I wrote a post on the Effective Altruism forum declaring my desire to do more work in the video and music realm to help promote ideas or charities aligned with the EA movement. Soon after, Charlie from The Life You Can Save got in touch and we began talking.
Our discourse culminated in me writing a song and directing a musical puppet video about The Life You Can Save! The colourful world is brought to life with animation by Smallbu, an animation studio who worked pro-bono on this project. The characters in the video have a playful debate around some of the arguments people have against helping to minimise global poverty. Ultimately their conversation highlights the amazing opportunities The Life You Can Save provides by curating charities that are proven to be highly effective. I wanted the spirit of the video to reflect the excitement and joy I felt at discovering The Life You Can Save and similar organisations.
I was happy to give my time and skills for free to enable the video’s creation, as well as funding other production costs to ensure as much money as possible ends up going from TLYCS to the charities it fosters. To know that there are researched and evaluated ways to do huge amounts of good in the world is something to celebrate! There is hope, let’s follow it with action!
I’m curious to see how the video is received. I hope to learn a lot from feedback because I’m chomping at the bit to do more work like this – where I can hopefully benefit TLYCS and other EA aligned organisations with my creative skills as well as with financial donations. I’m incredibly excited that I might be able to use my abilities to have a more direct impact in saving and improving lives, and I’d like to thank Charlie and everyone at the The Life You Can Save for the opportunity to explore that, and for all the amazing work they do!