Julia Wise and Jeff Kaufman
To me the question isn't how much I should give away, but how much I should keep. I see my money as belonging to whoever needs it most: every dollar I spend is a dollar out of the hands of someone who needs it more than me. I’ve always felt that way.
I was lucky enough to find someone who thinks similarly about giving. Jeff and I both care a lot about improving the world, and we married in 2009. Since college, we've been giving about 30% of our income each year. This year, we're earning more and will give 50%.
In recent years, we've gotten more interested in finding really effective charities. We believe there are a lot of good organizations out there, but most don't have much evidence showing what your donation accomplishes. We've been impressed by the quality of the evaluations done by Give Well, and we use their recommendations in deciding where to give. Given that some charities do a lot more good than others, we want to find and use the best evidence we can.
We've also been thinking a lot about career choice. Although I used to really focus on pinching pennies, I now see the benefits of trying to earn more money in order to give more. For example, Jeff was able to increase his salary by switching first to one company and then to another within his field, which has let us more than double our donations. When people consider how they can support important causes, I hope they will consider trying to earn more money and not just spending less.
We feel lucky in lot of ways - in being healthy, in being born in the United States, in having college educations. We want to share some of what we have with people who didn't get as many advantages. Even after giving away half of what we earn, what we have left is more than enough.
Strong social ties are an important source of happiness for us. We do a lot of cooking, walking, playing board games, and making music with family and friends. We love traditional music and dance, and Jeff plays mandolin in a dance band, The Free Raisins. As the community of effective altruists grows, we've enjoyed meeting people through organizations like Bolder Giving, Giving What We Can, and 80,000 Hours.
I’ve encountered a lot of people who think that giving a lot of one’s income must be very difficult and dreary. That hasn’t been our experience at all, and I write at Giving Gladly about the upsides of that life.
Over our lifetimes, we expect to save hundreds of lives and improve many more through our donations. It's an amazing opportunity!
| Northeast | 18 to 39 Years Old | Under $1M | at least 50% | Profession |
| International | Joy | Simplicity |
Posted on January 8th by Julia
Posted on April 28th by Boris Yakubchik
Thank you for sharing your story; it is inspiring! I too have made the difficult decision to (mostly?completely) forgo world travels (for the same reasons). The most expensive thing in one's life is almost surely raising a child, and I agree it may be difficult to give up the experience because of the resolution to help other people more. I have not yet found a partner for life, but I suspect there is at least one person of fitting age (and other criteria) out there who would be willing like me to help numerous people elsewhere via charitable donations while also being OK with not having children. I think finding friends with a similar outlook on life can help (psychologically) when the rest of society looks with puzzlement. Have you heard of Giving What We Can? :)
Posted on February 26th by Lynn Broaddus
Julia - very very inspirational! I'm looking for examples to use at my church, and yours is definitely one that I'm going to feature. Thanks so much.