Our Finances » Giving
We gave away nearly $7,000 in 2020 or 10.4% of our pre-tax income. We made a formal pledge in 2021 to give at least 10% of our pre-tax income — every year until we die — to the most effective charities.1 If you’d like to start giving more yourself, we suggest consulting The Life You Can Save calculator created by philosopher Peter Singer.
We generally adhere to the tenets of “effective altruism”, which values empirical evidence in determining the most effective ways to help others. We rely heavily on the research and recommendations of GiveWell and The Center for High Impact Philanthropy.
2020 was an anomaly due to Covid-19. But usually, the bulk of our giving goes to international organizations — mainly operating in sub-Saharan Africa — whose programs are known to deliver the most health and development benefits per dollar, based on evidence from randomized control trials. We allocate a smaller share to U.S. charities with child/youth-oriented programming and evidence-based track records. While giving abroad invariably delivers more “bang-per-buck”, we think it is important to also give back to the society that allows us to prosper.
How we gave in 2020:
» $2,900 (the entirety of our government “coronavirus rebate”) to GiveDirectly’s U.S. Covid-19 program, which targets cash grants to food stamp households in places hardest hit by coronavirus. Admittedly, this is not the most effective use of the money. However, we felt the rebate simply didn’t belong to us (we certainly did not need nor deserve it) and, therefore, should be directed in a way that most U.S. taxpayers would approve of.
» $500 to a local daycare center that serves low-income households and has really helped families (some we know personally) navigate the disruptions brought on by Covid-19. This contribution also qualified for a 50% Colorado state tax credit.
» $500 to Viagenco, a health and education charity in rural Kenya with which Kevin and his family have a long-standing connection.
- By comparison, the U.S. average is 2.2% of after-tax income, and a large portion of that goes to religious organizations and congregations (30-60%, depending on the source). A small portion of American giving goes to the kind of overseas, high-impact, secular causes that we prioritize.