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MAY 2020

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination.” — Nelson Mandela

As Executive Director of The Life You Can Save, I’d like to thank you personally for subscribing to — and opening! — our communications. Here at The Life You Can Save, we are committed to promoting cost-effective, high-impact giving that is not only inspired by compassion but also guided by careful analysis. In other words, we encourage donation decisions that consult both the head and the heart. We also aim to make “smart giving simple” by curating a list of nonprofits that we believe to be the most cost-effective and high-impact. Our best charities page provides information about 22 nonprofits that we support because we are confident that they will use your money in smart, compassionate, and impactful ways you can feel really good about.

We hope you will consider furthering our mission by donating to one or more of these nonprofits. However, we also need your help spreading the word about the importance of cost-effective, high-impact philanthropy that uses both the heart and the head. You may be surprised to learn that, while people generally strive to be as cost-effective and impactful as possible in most contexts of their lives, research suggests that this is not necessarily the case when it comes to making charitable contributions.

According to the most comprehensive study on charitable giving to date — “Money for Good II,” led by Guidestar and Hope Consulting and funded in part by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — only 16% of donors or roughly one in six, list “high impact” as the primary motivation for their giving. Other motivations include:

  • supporting organizations that have had a direct impact on yourself or your loved ones (23%); 

  • giving to well-known organizations because it isn’t complicated (18%);

  • supporting a faith-based organization (16%);

  • supporting local organizations where people can “see the difference” their contributions make (13%); and

  • giving to organizations where you are personally connected (14%).

While these other motivations are certainly understandable, we believe “high impact” is and should be the most critical determinant for giving. And, along with our curated nonprofits, we believe that the most impactful contributions we can make are those that help people living in extreme poverty. Our curated nonprofits direct their energies and efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. They strive to alleviate unnecessary suffering, increase livelihood, and save the lives of the poorest among us.

The next your alma mater or faith organization asks you to donate, or the next time your neighbors sign up to race for X or Y charity, please think about those in extreme poverty and consider the importance of, and the dire need for, “high impact” giving.

You can help us spread the word on effective giving by sharing The Life You Can Save in your personal or extended networks. Host a Zoom meeting to discuss the book. Use our handy group discussion questions to start a conversation. Or simply share your own giving journey.

Becoming a role model of effective giving and an evangelist can feel self-righteous and intrusive. I know because it is my role to do it all the time :)! But please consider taking your giving journey further. Donate first — then help us spread the word on behalf of those who can’t! 

Do Good. Feel Good.

Charlie Bresler


Your donations will be divided between those of our recommended charities that have established specific COVID-19 projects, related to the interventions we already recommend.
Read more here about what these great organizations are doing to prevent and respond to the pandemic.

Donate to our COVID-19 Fund

Donate to all our recommended charities

Save lives and reduce suffering by making one donation that supports all of our recommended nonprofits. The work of all these nonprofits has been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another but one thing is clear—the need for effective interventions will only increase as a result of this pandemic.

Donate to all our Charities
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