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.
GiveWell recommended a grant of $260,798 in May 2021 from Open Philanthropy to One for the World (OFTW) – an organization that encourages people to pledge a percentage of their incomes to GiveWell-recommended charities over the course of their lifetimes. This grant is intended to support 60% of OFTW's operating costs for one year. GiveWell previously recommended grants to OFTW in July 2018 and October 2019.
Published: March 2022
Table of Contents
OFTW establishes chapters at universities, graduate schools, and businesses which aim to persuade students and young professionals to pledge 1% of their annual incomes to GiveWell-recommended charities throughout their lifetimes. This $261,000 grant is intended to cover 60% of OFTW's operating costs for one year.1
Case for the grant
We believe OFTW is likely to introduce new donors to GiveWell's research. We think that targeting students in particular has the potential to be effective and valuable; many current donors to GiveWell-recommended charities learned about GiveWell while they were students.2
We consider this grant part of our outreach portfolio, as the primary intended outcome is to increase donations to GiveWell's recommendations. This grant will allow OFTW to continue its operations for a year, at which point we intend to consider renewing our support of OFTW as part of our overall outreach strategy. This timeline will give OFTW more time to pursue its goals (which it expects will continue to be affected by COVID-19; see below) prior to our consideration of renewal. In the meantime, we think OFTW has enough potential to influence future donations to be worth our continued support.
Risks and reservations
- OFTW is a young organization3 with a limited track record; we've been a major funder of OFTW for ~2.5 years and have not yet formed a strong sense of how successful its model is. While we believe it has a good chance of moving significant money to our recommendations, we also believe it has a significant risk of failure. OFTW has not scaled as quickly as we'd hoped, though its work has been significantly disrupted by COVID-19, which has inhibited its ability to host in-person pledge events.
- A 1% pledge – the minimum that OFTW asks its members to give – is a relatively small amount. In comparison, the Giving What We Can Pledge asks that its members pledge to give 10% of their lifetime income to effective charities (though it specifies those causes less narrowly than OFTW).4 For further context, OFTW notes that the average American donor gives 2.6% to charity.5 It is possible that this relatively small pledge is reducing the amount that pledgers would otherwise give to charity or not materially increasing the amount they would give, although it may nonetheless be increasing the amount they give to GiveWell charities.
- We believe that one of the main paths through which OFTW may have an impact is by introducing students to effective giving, preparing some of them to eventually give very large donations in the future. We are uncertain about the extent to which donors who learn about GiveWell through OFTW will remain connected to GiveWell and our recommended charities over a long period of time.
Despite these risks and reservations, we think OFTW is a valuable enough opportunity to be worth supporting at this stage.
We took a fairly light-touch approach to this grant decision, in anticipation of conducting a deeper assessment in 2022 of funding to OFTW as part of our overall outreach strategy.
As part of our decision-making process, we:
- Reviewed OFTW's progress with respect to the goals we had discussed for the previous grant period, and considered the impact of COVID-19 on OFTW's program.
- Discussed this grant with others who we thought might have valuable perspectives, including a few people in the effective altruism community.
- Determined the amount of funding that would be sufficient, alongside the other funding OFTW expects to have available, to cover OFTW's costs until we consider grant renewal.
We plan to consider renewing this grant in early to mid-2022. At that point, we'll consider updates on OFTW's progress as well as any relevant updates to our overall outreach strategy. In the event that we decide not to renew our support of OFTW, part of the funding from this grant will serve as an exit grant.
In the near term, and with due consideration of any relevant extenuating circumstances, we expect that the ratio between OFTW's operating costs and its funds pledged will be the primary way we assess whether OFTW seems generally on track to becoming a sustainable, cost-effective mechanism for moving money to top charities.
In the longer term, to the extent that OFTW's pledge is successful, we expect that most of OFTW's impact will come from students and young professionals who take its pledge early in their careers being encouraged to give large amounts over the course of their careers as their earnings increase. Those gains could take several years or decades to fully materialize, but might be very valuable.
- Stephanie Stojanovic, GiveWell's Director of Development, is married to Steve Hind, a member of OFTW's Executive Committee.
- A member of OFTW's Board of Trustees, Rossa O'Keeffe-O'Donovan, worked with GiveWell as a contractor in 2017.
|60%||We renew our support of OFTW in one year||July 1, 2022|
|15%||OFTW is responsible for at least $10 million in tracked annual donations to GiveWell-recommended programs by 2030||March 31, 2031|
See cell D5 of OFTW's financial model.
We've learned this from conversations with our donors as well as from donor surveys.
See One for the World, "Our Story": "One for the World was co-founded by two Wharton MBAs, Kate Epstein and Josh McCann, in 2014."
"Our most popular pledge is The Giving What We Can Pledge which commits at least 10% of lifetime income to effective charities." Giving What We Can, "Our pledge"
See One for the World, "Why 1%?": "The average American donor gives 2.6% of their annual income to charities." In this context, OFTW frames its pledge as a small amount one can give alongside other giving, if one wants.