Fight Against Extreme Poverty
Extreme poverty is a complex global issue and figuring out how to best alleviate it is a complicated challenge. The effective altruism movement aims to help solve this challenge by using data-driven evidence to find the best ways to fight against extreme poverty.

What is Effective Altruism?

Effective altruism involves using data and evidence to determine the best methods to help improve the world with its limited resources. For example, one important aspect of effective altruism is determining which issues experience neglect. These are issues that receive relatively little attention and funding in comparison with the value of solving or mitigating these issues. Effective altruism also promotes the use of data and transparency when looking at the success of charitable initiatives. With proper data, it is easier to determine if an initiative is helping improve lives, as well as how cost-effective it is.

Many frequently consider extreme poverty a neglected issue in effective altruism, because just small amounts of additional money and resources could substantially improve or even save a life if used effectively. William MacAskill, the author of “Doing Good Better,” estimates that it would cost just $3,400 to save the life of someone living in an impoverished country.

Many people want to help improve the world and have the ability to save a life, as McAskill explains, but the data involved in effective altruism and struggle to determine the best charitable initiatives overwhelms them. Some effective altruism organizations recognize this and conduct research for their donors to help them have the largest individual impact on those living in extreme poverty.

One for the World (OFTW)

Founded in 2014, One for the World (OFTW) is a relatively new organization that creates a portfolio of the most effective charitable initiatives fighting extreme poverty across the world. These are charities that provide enough data and are transparent enough to determine their efficacy and change as the data changes. These are frequently charities that help people meet basic health needs because they are low cost and high reward. According to OFTW, just $2.50 in the hands of the right charitable program can provide someone with an antimalarial bednet. Correspondingly, OFTW’s “Top Picks” are primarily charitable initiatives that focus on health, including vitamin A and antimalarial drug distribution to children, antimalarial bed net distribution and deworming. The remaining top pick is GiveDirectly, which provides one-time cash transfers directly to those living in poverty.

In addition to this unique portfolio of charities, OFTW also asks for donations in a fairly uncommon way. The organization focuses primarily on college campuses and encourages students to pledge 1% of their post-graduation income to these most effective charities. It is a great way to raise awareness among young people about effective altruism and the fight against extreme poverty, and college students in wealthy countries typically have a high future earning potential.

Kennan McClung, Director of Growth and Development at OFTW, explained to The Borgen Project that “[t]he OFTW pledge is important for college students to make because it is so simple, so easy and so effective. Without changing your lifestyle at all, you can markedly improve the lives of hundreds of people every year, saving multiple lives over the course of your career.” OFTW gives individuals the opportunity to have a large individual impact on the fight against extreme poverty.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the work that OFTW does is all the more important. McClung also touched on this, explaining that “[t]he looming economic recession is going to have disastrous effects in the developing world, with hundreds of millions of people expected to fall back into extreme poverty and years of progress expected to be erased. It’s more important than ever to not only support people living on so little but ensure that we are doing so in the most effective way possible.” It is also important to note that anyone, not just college students, can take the 1% pledge and start giving right away if in the position to do so.

McClung emphasizes that “OFTW members pursue a wide range of different careers, engage in other forms of philanthropy and volunteering, and have a diverse array of interests and values. That said, we are all united in the belief that we can live very reasonably on 99% of our incomes, and are committed to doing our part to make the world a better place — effectively.” Anyone can take the pledge and start improving lives today.


Givewell, a partner of OFTW, is another research-driven organization to find the most effective charities working on a variety of causes, although particularly extreme poverty. It provides OFTW with a list of the most effective charities fighting global poverty. Individuals can also lookup various nonprofits on the website to see how effective they are according to Givewell’s measures.

Effective altruism uses data to determine which charitable initiatives are the most effective at combating neglected issues. Extreme poverty is among the most neglected, and therefore research to discover the best ways to fight it is extremely important. Giving to charities that provide data and have shown that their efforts are successful is ideal, but often it can be very time-consuming and overwhelming for an individual donor to complete alone. This is where charities like OFTW and Givewell step in, completing this important research and encouraging donors to give to the best charitable programs based on the available data. OFTW and Givewell have found that many of the best initiatives work to help provide for basic health needs, such as antimalarial bednet distribution and deworming.

Effective altruism can seem complicated and overwhelming at first, but it does not need to be. It simply aims to find the best ways to help improve lives using data. Fighting extreme poverty is a key issue in effective altruism because relatively small amounts of money can have a substantial impact if used effectively. Organizations like OFTW and Givewell do the heavy lifting for donors and determine which charitable initiatives are most cost-effective, could best use additional funds, are transparent and have a track record of success. This makes fighting extreme poverty in very effective ways possible for many people around the world.

– Kayleigh Crabb
Photo: Flickr

Effective Altruism 
From an idea and philosophy, Effective Altruism has evolved and transformed into a very broad and cohesive social movement over the years. Though heavily featured in the nonprofit sector, Effective Altruism focuses on scientific projects, policy-making and organizations with the ethos of finding effective ways to do ‘the most good’ and ‘do good better,’ both individually and collectively. Effective Altruism prioritizes a variety of different causes, impartiality and cost-effectiveness, along with assessing potential funding impacts and counterfactual reasoning.

Effective Altruism Singapore

The Borgen Project had an opportunity to get in touch with the Effective Altruism chapter in Singapore, an up and coming organization with a focus on ‘effective giving.’ As an organization, the chapter is able to sustain and appeal to people because of Singapore’s friendly and burgeoning nonprofit environment as well as its relatively wealthier population, and more stable incomes and economy.

With a heavy focus on research and careful analysis, the Effective Altruism Chapter in Singapore, in particular, is able to work on the best cases and understand specific communities in need. Like many of its companion chapters around the world, it also focuses on more neglected issues in global poverty reduction initiatives such as global health and development and factory-farmed animals as well as other problems and existential risks like natural disasters and climate change. Stunting, in particular, is a grave and predominant focus for Effective Altruism Singapore, with a heavy concentration on child and maternal health care malnutrition owing to the fact that nearly 25.8 percent of children in southeast Asia are stunted. Effective Altruism’s evidence-based research patterns and analysis shows that around 30 percent of children in communities across Indonesia and the Philippines experience adverse impacts of stunting.

The GiveWell Framework

Moreover, the chapter employs the more empirical and analytical GiveWell framework in its work to evaluate potentially high-impact giving opportunities in SouthEast Asia. GiveWell, one of the pioneering organizations behind the Effective Altruism movement, focuses on scouting reliable charities that can improve lives the most per dollar so that there is effective and impactful usage of philanthropic funds. The objective is chiefly to deduce how useful it is to give an amount equivalent to a dollar and evaluate how it could potentially impact a specific target community.

In accordance with Effective Altruism’s GiveWell framework, giving opportunities are largely dependent on an in-depth analysis involving thousands of hours of research which it then uses to find top-rated charities backed by evidence, thorough analysis and vetting to ensure transparency and accountability. GiveWell also tries to understand the root causes of issues such as stunting and malnutrition. Organizations such as the Malaria Foundation and Malaria Consortium remain some of GiveWell’s most important recommendations in the health care aspect of its many global poverty alleviation priorities.

The GiveWell Framework’s Role at Effective Altruism Singapore

Consequently, many of Effective Altruism Singapore’s pilot projects and initiatives employ the GiveWell framework as it is helpful while analyzing and understanding some of the high-impact giving opportunities in Southeast Asia, especially in key priority realms like the provision of WASH (Water, Hygiene and Sanitation) services as well as childhood malnutrition. In the year 2018, the chapter focused on looking for organizations and charities that delivered more evidence-based interventions that targeted preventable and cost-effective health issues and impacted some of the poorest populations and communities in Southeast Asia.

To conclude, the workings and functioning of Effective Altruism Singapore help paint a broad picture of the Effective Altruism philosophy and movement as a whole due to its rather abstract nature. It remains groundbreaking and innovative because it offers a more objective as well as a critical approach to addressing and combatting poverty in the long run especially because it aims to use more research and evidence focused methods.

As a whole, it remains an essential and significant reflection into the applications of the ideology and the potential impacts it can have on the way one perceives global poverty-related issues across various communities around the world.

– Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

10 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on CourageFew leaders of change have so successfully exemplified the concept of courage the way Martin Luther King Jr. was able to in his legacy as one of the United States’ most prominent civil rights activists. Keep reading to learn the top 10 Martin Luther King Jr. quotes on courage.

10 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Courage

  1. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – From an interview with Dr. King
  2. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love … The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.” – From A Gift of Love, a collection of 16 select sermons delivered by Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – In a speech at a college rally
  4. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – From King’s famous, I Have A Dream speech
  5. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – From a letter written in a Birmingham Jail, April 1963
  6. Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles. Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” – From Martin Luther King Jr.’s autobiography
  7. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – From “The Domestic Impact of War”, 1967
  8. “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” – From a speech in February 1968
  9. “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” – From a speech given in October 1962
  10. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” From A Testament to Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Courage is the first step to growth, especially when the growth occurs in spite of unjust circumstances. Remembering these top 10 Martin Luther King Jr. quotes on Courage quotes may be the perfect catalyst to push one forward on whichever path they choose.

– Fatemeh Zahra Yarali
Photo: Flickr

service trips
Every year, colleges and universities in the U.S. send students on service trips to the most impoverished nations on the planet. The students form teams and are sent with the intention of helping in small ways to create lasting impacts in the poor communities. What doesn’t get highlighted is the lasting impact that the poor communities have on the students.

Tyler Neville graduated from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. During Neville’s freshman and junior years, he took part in one of the school’s annual service trips. The Borgen Project interviewed Neville about his experiences.

“My main motivation was my desire to travel. Service trips seemed a perfect blend of satisfying that while also managing to do some good for people,” Neville said. While providing aid to Guatemalans, he built a home for a family in need using “very basic construction methods.” Neville said the family was grateful. “They were quick to let us know how appreciative they were of what we were doing.”

Mutual Benefits of Service Trips

Neville’s experience convinced him everyone could benefit from a visit to a third world country. “To see people be so happy, caring, giving and generally wonderful with so much less than anyone I knew is a real eye-opening experience, and one that really changed how I viewed the world.” From his time in Guatemala, Neville formed a bond with the indigenous people strong enough to change his worldview. 

Why Volunteer Abroad?

Sending college students to the world’s most impoverished areas has become a movement. The Huffington Post wrote an article giving tips to prospective student volunteers. It provides service trips as an alternative to the usual winter/spring break activities and lists reasons to get involved. “The main motivator is usually altruistic — it allows you to help a community or cause that can benefit from your support.” The article also listed personal benefits such as improving professional skills, learning about a new culture, making new friends and having fun around the world. 

How to Get Involved

The Huffington Post article ends by giving advice on how to join a team and get involved. Organizations, like Global Volunteers, have begun to seek out college students as volunteers for efforts abroad. Global Volunteers is an international organization that sends volunteers abroad to combat global poverty. 

Saint Joseph’s College features a Student Service Trips tab on its website where students can see how to get involved. It mentions Partners in Development (PID), an organization based in Ipswich, MA that coordinates the teams going abroad. It is not just college students that get involved with PID. Anyone who can afford the cost of airfare and the trip itself can join a team

The service trip movement has gained traction due to its mutually beneficial relationship. Not only are the impoverished people provided with able bodies to help, but the students are provided with a lasting experience that changes their outlook on life and gives them skills that no classroom ever could. Neville said it best; “I believe one of the main goals of college is to expose yourself to varying viewpoints, cultures, opinions and experiences in order to broaden your worldview. The two service trips I was a part of provided all of those things in ample amounts.”

– Zach Farrin
Photo: Flickr

Critical Global Issues
Global issues can be defined as any social, economic, political and environmental issues that affect the world in a catastrophic way. Living in the current world certainly has its uncertainties and challenges. There are numerous critical global issues that need immediate attention. Although progress toward solving them is being made, it is rather slow.

Five Critical Global Issues

  1. Biosecurity: Biosecurity refers to the measures taken to reduce the spread or introduction of infectious diseases in animals, plants and human beings. The goal of biosecurity is to prevent various biological risk factors whether natural, accidental or man-made. These risk factors have the potential to cause mass destruction, killing millions of people and causing huge economic loss and instability.
  2. Promoting Effective Altruism: Effective altruism can be described as various ways to benefit others as much as possible using one’s own resources. It involves devoting all kinds of altruistic behavior like time, money, energy and attention to people’s well-being. The four main focus areas of effective altruism are poverty reduction, meta effective altruism, the far future and animal suffering.Charity is one of the many ways to promote effective altruism. In the United States alone, there are about one million charities receiving a total of approximately $200 billion a year. Also, it is not necessary to be a millionaire to be effectively altruistic; even the smallest donation can make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
  3. Social Hostility: Social hostility can also be referred to as conflicts or wars caused due to intolerance and discrimination against others’ beliefs. In the present world, violence and discrimination have reached new heights in almost all regions of the world. Religious conflicts are seen to be strongly prevalent in one-third of the world’s 198 countries and territories. The countries ranking high for such conflicts are Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Somalia and Israel.
  4. Destruction of Nature: Humans’ destruction of nature is taking a major toll on the world. Deforestation, done for various reasons like farming, cattle grazing, expanding cities and building dams, has caused environmental degradation and climate change. Deforestation has also led to losing 18.7 million acres of forests every year, which equals to 27 soccer fields a minute.Trees help absorb carbon dioxide which helps to cool the planet’s temperature down but the loss of trees from deforestation reverses this process. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. Thus, destruction of nature is another critical global issue that requires immediate preventive measures.
  5. Children’s Lives: In a report from 2017, UNICEF claims that child mortality has dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.6 million in 2016. This is a positive change but the number of deaths is still extremely significant; 15,000 children die every day. One of the significant causes of child mortality is malnutrition, while pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria are also significant factors.According to a report published from Save the Children on May 31, 2018, it is estimated that around 1.2 billion children are exposed to at least one of three threats: poverty, conflict or discrimination against girls. 153 million people are at a risk of suffering from all three. For the overall progress toward healthy living and well-being to continue, there is an urgent need to address and assist these vulnerable children.

These are only a few of the world’s most critical global issues. If society is to one day come together and attain total peace and security, these problems must be attended to as soon as possible. The safety of future generations depends on the actions taken now.

– Shweta Roy
Photo: Flickr

Global Citizen: Success Stories of the Global Poverty ProjectThe Global Poverty Project, also known as Global Citizen, is an education and advocacy organization working to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action to see an end to extreme poverty. Global Citizen’s advocacy work focuses on eight issues: girls and women, food and hunger, health, education, water and sanitation, environment, finance and innovation and citizenship.

Global Citizen has had success stories in these areas: 

  1. Girls and Women
    At the 2017 Global Citizen Festival, Accenture, Citi, Ernst & Young and Procter and Gamble committed to sourcing $100 million each through their supply chains from women-owned businesses, a majority based in developing countries. 
  2. Food and Hunger
    In 2017, the Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, confirmed that $575 million of $990 million committed by Congress in May, helped by 49,291 actions taken by Global Citizen, was released to the WFP and others to immediately fight famine.
  3. Health
    Over the past seven years, Global Citizen has taken 1.47 million actions to increase access to global health services, including HIV/AIDS treatment. These actions have led to 48 commitments by governments and are set to affect 626 million people by 2030.
  4. Education
    In Feb. 2018, Global Citizen held the first Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference hosted jointly by a G7 leader, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the president of a developing country, Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal. The conference was held in Dakar, Senegal, to support $2.3 billion for education in developing countries. GPE’s global ambassador, Rihanna, was present and spoke as well.
  5. Water and Sanitation
    At the Global Citizen Festival, Nigeria committed to getting 5.5 million people out of open defecation by the end of 2018. 
  6. Environment
    In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the United Arab Emirates Minister of Climate Change and Environment committed $50 million on the Global Citizen Festival stage to fund renewable energy supplies and another $10 million toward humanitarian relief in Antigua and Barbuda. 
  7. Finance and Innovation
    Global Citizen partners with the private sector to further fight poverty. One of the biggest successes was at the Global Citizen Festival in 2015, where the European Commission committed to increase support for the refugee crisis by €500 million over the existing development aid budget of the European Commission.
  8. Citizenship
    In 2017, over three million Global Citizen supporters’ actions helped to drive $5.7 billion in 143 commitments by calling upon leaders as a collective power to step up for the world’s most vulnerable.

Because of its advocacy and supporters, Global Citizen will continue to reduce poverty significantly in the coming years. 

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

The Happy Birthday Project
In Calgary, job loss, depression, poverty and an economic downturn plague the Canadian nation just as it does so many others. But thanks to two women with a vision, The Happy Birthday Project is ensuring children in Calgary no longer pass their birthdays without a smile.

Crystal Gelsinger and Mandy Watts were two childhood friends and recent mothers. One day in 2012, they stumbled upon an advertisement searching for cake mix donations for families that didn’t have the means to bake a cake for their child’s birthday. The simple ad launched an innovative idea and project that has now brought hundreds of children smiles.

The Happy Birthday Project, now an official non-profit organization, provides the basic supplies to poverty-stricken families to throw a child birthday party.

“We know we’re not going to change their lives, but we hope we can give them a little bit of joy,” Gelsinger told the Calgary Sun.

The organization hands out “party packs,” which consist of birthday cake mix, cake pan or cupcake wrappers, cutlery, plates, cups, decorations, snacks, gift bags, as well as a special gift for the child.

The organization learns about the children before they shop. They find out what each child likes to do, their hobbies and interests, so they are better able to form the perfect, hand-made custom party pack.

According to Gelsinger and Watts, every child deserves to feel special and celebrated on their birthday. Their mission is to bring joy to the lives of children and families facing adversity.

“It just breaks my heart because we all love our children the same but we just don’t all have the same means to provide a birthday cake, a birthday party,” Gelsinger told the paper.

The Happy Birthday Project grew extensively after creation. Once the program reached a certain size, the two women could no longer able to lead it by themselves. The group most recently was taken over by another organization known as Made by Momma.

Since the new organizer’s expansion, 737 birthday packages have been handed out to families in need. The Happy Birthday Project now also throws actual birthday parties at both the nearby party House in Calgary and the Brenda Strafford Centre.

The organization serves the families referred to them through local Calgary social agencies. The families are referred by a social worker, social agency or shelter.

The Happy Birthday Project accepts donations and volunteers. They are looking for delivery drivers, event volunteers, donation drive organizers, craft committee members and special project volunteers.

The organization is also accepting donations for party items. If you have extra unused paper plates, streamers, child-themed gift wrappings, batteries, or scotch tape, they can be donated to this valuable cause. A full list of the needed supplies can be found on their website. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering can visit the organization’s website for more information.

Katie Grovatt

Photo: Flickr