One for the World — General Support

Published: August 2018

Note: This page summarizes the rationale behind a grant to One for the World. One for the World staff reviewed this page prior to publication.


As part of our effort to increase money moved to our top charities, GiveWell recommended a grant of $153,750 to One for the World, an organization that does outreach to university students encouraging them to pledge a percentage of their incomes to effective charities. This grant represents 75% of a total grant of $205,000, the remaining 25% of which is being provided by another donor on GiveWell’s recommendation.

Table of Contents

The organization

One for the World (OFTW) is a volunteer-run organization that sets up chapters at undergraduate, business, and law schools which aim to persuade students to pledge 1% of their incomes to effective charities. In 2017, OFTW tracked roughly $85,000 in donations from 114 donors at six schools. It has roughly $146,000 in pledges for 2018 (from 429 donors) and roughly $267,000 in pledges for 2019 (OFTW often encourages students pledge for one to two years into the future).1

OFTW's advisory board includes Rossa O'Keeffe O'Donovan, who worked with GiveWell as a consultant in 2017. We have a highly positive impression of Rossa's capabilities, and his involvement is an important factor in our deciding that this grant is a bet worth making.

Case for the grant

We think that targeting students has the potential to be effective and valuable; many current donors to GiveWell-recommended charities learned about GiveWell while they were students.

OFTW offers its pledgers a list of recommended charities to donate to in order to fulfill their pledges. It plans to recommend only GiveWell-recommended charities by the end of 2018. We view this grant as an opportunity to support an organization that has the potential to increase GiveWell's overall money moved.

Goals for the grant

This grant is intended to give OFTW two years of funding to hire full-time staff in order to see whether additional staff enable it to significantly expand. OFTW believes that hiring full-time staff will allow it to grow (and that it will not be able to grow without full-time staff). It plans to hire a graduating undergraduate as COO this year, and to hire another graduating student as CEO at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

Our rough cost-effectiveness calculations for this grant indicate that it could be very cost-effective.2

Risks and reservations

  • Our impression is that that the success of student chapters is highly dependent on the chapter having talented, motivated leaders who are able to cultivate replacement leadership before they graduate.
  • OFTW does not have a founder or executive director in the traditional sense to lead it (having been led by a volunteer advisory board since its inception), though we think its full-time hires will help fill this gap.


OFTW plans to use the majority of this grant for salaries for new hires. (For a detailed budget breakdown, see OFTW, Budget 2017-2018 and five-year forecast.)

It seems plausible to us that there are no alternative funding sources for this grant at this time, though we are aware of a few other funders that might be able to support OFTW in a similar capacity in the future.

Plans for follow-up

After one year, we plan to check in with OFTW to ask for:

  • A review of its performance over the past year and its plans and options for growth. We are especially interested in a plan that includes a focus on pledgers who have graduated, since OFTW has spent limited time engaging with this group to date.
  • Improved metrics which, e.g., distinguish between pledged and donated money more clearly.

Internal forecasts

For this grant, we are recording the following forecasts:

Confidence Prediction By Time
25% OFTW moves more than $2.5 million to GiveWell top charities in 2020. End of 2020
15% Conditioned on it still being active, OFTW moves more than $5 million to GiveWell top charities in 2023. End of 2023
75% We renew our support to OFTW after one year. September 2019
50% We renew our support to OFTW after two years. September 2020

Relationship disclosures

A member of OFTW's advisory board, Rossa O'Keeffe-O'Donovan, worked with GiveWell as a contractor in 2017.


Document Source
GiveWell, OFTW BOTEC Source
OFTW, 100 School Plan Source
OFTW, Budget 2017-2018 and five-year forecast Source
OFTW, Donation dashboard Source (archive)
OFTW, Strategic plan draft, November 2017 Source
  • 1

    See OFTW, Donation dashboard, page "Breakdown by School," table "Cumulative Donors vs. In Year Donations (By Academic Year)".

  • 2

    By 2023, if OFTW meets its growth rate targets, our rough "back of the envelope" calculations predict ~9.2 dollars moved to top charities per dollar granted. Our "low-growth scenario" predicts a return of 4.9x; our "high-growth scenario" predicts a return of 16.3x. See GiveWell, OFTW BOTEC, cells M32:M35.