Getting to the Mainstream

I’ve spent a lot of time think­ing and writ­ing about how we ought to live. The aim has always been to get peo­ple to be­have more eth­i­cally, and so to bring about a bet­ter world. The Life You Can Save (TLYCS), an or­ga­ni­za­tion I founded and which I now serve as board pres­i­dent, fo­cuses on mak­ing effec­tive giv­ing part of main­stream think­ing about giv­ing . I hope some of you will want to take a look at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Strate­gic Plan for pro­duc­ing large-scale be­hav­ioral change. It pro­vides some in­sights into our think­ing, where we are to­day, and where we want to be in the fu­ture.

In 2012, The Life You Can Save was a book, which I pub­lished in 2009, and a web­site set up by a friend and sjup­porter, in­tended to pro­mote the ideas of the book and en­courage peo­ple to pledge to donate a per­centage of their in­come to effec­tive char­i­ties. At that time Char­lie Bresler ap­proached me, offer­ing to turn TLYCS as a meta-char­ity, based both on his time and work (he be­came its un­paid Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor), and on his fund­ing. I thought it was risky (rel­a­tive to Char­lie’s al­ter­na­tive of giv­ing his money to the Against Malaria Foun­da­tion) but a risk worth tak­ing. Since then, I’ve be­come more and more con­vinced that the bet has paid off hand­somely. Last year, we moved $2.7m (a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate) to our recom­mended char­i­ties, more than $9 for ev­ery dol­lar spent on op­er­at­ing ex­penses. Th­ese met­rics should con­tinue to im­prove as growth in money moved has so far been strong in the cur­rent year, while ex­penses are roughly he same as last year.

TLYCS has built a small but tal­ented team led by Char­lie (former pres­i­dent of the Men’s Wearhouse) and COO Jon Be­har (a 10 year vet­eran of the world’s largest hedge fund). Our im­pact to date has been sig­nifi­cant, and is grow­ing at a steep tra­jec­tory, but this progress only rep­re­sents the early stages of our plans. Ul­ti­mately, TLYCS wants to de­velop the ca­pac­ity to in­tro­duce huge num­bers of peo­ple to the idea of effec­tive giv­ing, and to have available the tools and mes­sag­ing to get them to act. We also want to build a com­mu­nity that will nur­ture and in­crease their in­volve­ment over time. Our Strate­gic Plan ex­plains the vi­sion for mak­ing this hap­pen, and how added ca­pac­ity will trans­late to more im­pact. I hope you’ll read the Strate­gic Plan and con­sider sup­port­ing TLYCS.