Peter Singer answers common questions about giving

Why should I give to help the global extreme poor?

In his book, The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer challenges us to think about what it takes to live ethically in a world in which millions are dying unnecessarily each year and about “our obligation to those trapped in extreme poverty.” Generally this level of poverty is beyond almost anything seen in wealthy societies. It not only means children are not able to attend school, but both children and adults are severely malnourished, lack access to even minimal health care and suffer or die from causes that would be entirely preventable in other parts of the world. As Peter says, “Most of us are absolutely certain that we wouldn’t hesitate to save a drowning child, and that we would do it at considerable cost to ourselves. Yet while thousands of children die each day, we spend money on things we take for granted and would hardly notice if they were not there. Is that wrong? If so, how far does our obligation to the poor go?” (p.12)

An additional argument for helping the global poor is that generally, donations go farthest in poorer nations than in rich ones. As you can see in our Impact Calculator, the cost of saving a life with our recommended nonprofits is as little as $60, and improving a life begins at 10 cents. For comparison, a 1995 Duke University study of more than 500 lifesaving interventions in the U.S. put the median cost of saving a life at $2.2 million.

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