Giving What We Can

coraliegwwc-logo-300x289Guest Blog by  Coralie Oddy, City alumnus 2016 and member of Giving What We Can

Plenty of students come to university wanting to change the world. I certainly did – throughout my time at City, I attended protests and rallies. I baked cakes, rattled tins and raised thousands of pounds for charities. It was fun, but doubts and fears quickly crept in. How did I know my money was reaching those who needed it the most? Was campaigning and volunteering a better use of my time than fundraising? How could I choose a career that would make a social impact? And most of all –Was any of this making a difference at all?

Faced with doubts like these, it’s easy to end up apathetic and cynical – or to try our best without making much of an impact. By and large we accept that the world’s biggest problems are insurmountable. We worry about government corruption and charities working ineffectively. In a way, I think this helps relieve us of a sense of responsibility – if there’s nothing we can do, we needn’t do anything. My doubts and fears didn’t stop me from wanting to change the world, but they almost stopped me trying.

Then I found Giving What We Can [1] and everything changed.

GWWC is a community of people who want to change the world and are committed to finding the best ways of achieving this. Specifically, they focus on which charities have the biggest impact on eliminating world poverty and do the most good with the donations they receive. Their research suggests that some charities are 1000 times more effective than others. This means choice of charity alone can be the difference between saving 1 life and saving 1000 lives.

Giving What We Can has the principles of Effective Altruism at its centre. EA is a social movement that applies evidence and reason to finding the most effective ways to improve the world [2]. Effective Altruism encourages individuals to consider their actions and act in ways that bring about the greatest positive impact, based on their values. The London Effective Altruism and Giving What We Can chapter [3] holds regular meet-ups, which are great for meeting likeminded people and discussing how best to do good better together.

Effective Altruism is particularly valuable to become involved with while you are still a student, as there is plenty of information and guidance about which career options have the biggest social impact. 80,000 Hours [4] is an amazing resource for this, and their advice might surprise you. You certainly don’t have to work in the charity or non-profit sectors to make a big difference in the world.

There are also many questions that are open to debate. How can we measure the impact of political campaigning? Do we consider animal lives when assessing the most good we can do? Is it a good idea to give everyone a basic income? By contributing opinions and research in these areas, we can shape the future of Effective Altruism.

To spread the word and support people in their endeavours as effective altruists, we need chapters. Student chapters are particularly valuable as they provide a way for people to consider and increase their social impact throughout their whole working lives. Jonathan Courtney, Director of Outreach at Giving What We Can suggests that starting a chapter is one of the most effective things an individual can do to alleviate poverty, due to the snowball effect of more people learning about Effective Altruism, making positive changes in their lives as a result and then telling even more people about the movement.

There are already many Giving What We Can student chapters operating all over the world; a chapter at City has the potential to make an incredible impact. We need students who can commit to just a couple of hours a month to make this happen.

Being part of a chapter involves meeting others who are interested in changing the world and discussing the best ways to achieve this. It might involve socials, events to raise awareness or events to raise money for the world’s most effective charities – we want the City chapter to show the ideas and passions of the students who run it. Running a chapter is far less daunting than you might think (read about some people who did it here [5] and here [6]), looks great on your CV and doesn’t require a lot of prior knowledge about Effective Altruism – just the desire to get started, make a difference and change the world.

If you are interested in running or joining a new Giving What We Can chapter at City, contact jonathan.courtney@givingwhatwecan.org.




[1] –  https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/

[2] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_altruism

[3] – meet up effective altruism

[4] – https://80000hours.org/

[5] – Starting a chapter is not as scary as you think

[6] – Why haven’t you set up a chapter yet?



Antonia Clark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *