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April 2015

April 25th is World Malaria Day, and we want to commend the ongoing amazing work that the Against Malaria Foundation is doing. Malaria mortality rates decreased by 47% between 2000 and 2013 globally. I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to donate to AMF, which has distributed over 11 million anti-malaria nets and still going strong. Every $3 you give buys another net, protecting 2 people for 3 years.

April is also notable at The Life You Can Save because the 7th, besides being World Health Day, marks the publication of Peter Singer's new book,
The Most Good You Can Do.  At this link, you can hear about the book from Peter himself.  Or see him in person on his U.S. tour to promote the book, Effective Altruism, and The Life You Can Save in cities across the United States, including San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and New York.
I too will be traveling this month, speaking to wealth advisors and their clients in events sponsored by Schwab Charitable in San Francisco and Seattle, as well as giving a talk at The Wharton Alumni Club in NYC.  These presentations are part of my effort to share our cause with high-net-worth individuals, who have the potential to support effective charities with large donations. 

Good living and good giving,

Charlie Bresler is Executive Director of The Life You Can Save, an organization founded by the philosopher Peter Singer and based on the basic tenet of Effective Altruism: leading an ethical life involves using a portion of personal assets and resources to effectively alleviate the consequences of extreme poverty.

In April's Issue


Charity Voices


Team Picks


Supporter Story


This Month in Giving


Highlights from Our Blog

Charity Voices
News that our Recommended Charities think you'll enjoy reading.
A 6-mile walk for a hopeful message
An SOVA volunteer gives a tutorial on how to effectively hang a mosquito net.

In light of World Malaria Day this month, AMF CEO Rob Mather reflects:

One of the best emails I have received was sent to me in 2010 by a man called Mohammed in Uganda. He was the head of a village in an area where we distributed nets. I happened to speak with him before the net distribution because he was in the office of our distribution partner. We spoke briefly about the nets we were funding that would be distributed to all his community members. Some months later he walked six miles to the same office and asked that this message be sent to me. It read simply:
Rob, Malaria doesn’t exist in my village any more. Mohammed
AMF is currently discussing a series of multi-million net distributions with our partners, and it is achieving this kind of outcome for many more people that drives us on.
World Malaria Day is 25th April each year. I look forward to the time when we do not need such a day.

"In their own words" recipient interviews.
GiveDirectly recipient Hellen.
GiveDirectly recently launched a new blog series, “In their own words,” in which they share in-depth interviews conducted with randomly-selected cash transfer recipients.  By selecting interviewees this way, GiveDirectly ensures that the stories provide an accurate depiction of their program and its impact. 

Check out our first two posts: in one, three recipients recount what went through their minds when GiveDirectly first told them they’d be receiving $1,000. In another, recipient George elaborates on his experience deciding how to spend his transfer.
Interact with PSI Pulse

At PSI we are always asking the question: How can we do better? From sending maternal health messages via a mobile app, to exploring how to make toilets a sustainable business and affordable for families, to expanding the frontiers of self-testing for HIV, we are embracing innovation.
Learning from others and sharing with our partners is a big part of innovative thinking. In that spirit, please check out PSI brand new quarterly digital report highlighting some of our most innovative recent health initiatives.
This is not another document to download and save for later. PSI Pulse is an interactive experience, with videos, galleries and quizzes that might surprise you.
And since we love metrics and measurement, this is also the occasion to share with you our 2014 health impact data and financial statements on We’re especially proud of it because 2014 was our most impactful year ever, thanks to the support of our donors and partners.

American Indian Sight Initiative
AISI student with new eyeglasses.

For over 30 years, Seva and our donors have been committed to improving the health and wellbeing of American Indian communities throughout the United States.

Seva’s American Indian Sight Initiative brings attention to the disproportionately high rates of preventable and treatable eye conditions that negatively impact the lives of Native Americans.

Key program accomplishments in 2014 included eye screenings for 5,272 American Indian school children. 1,662 pairs of glasses were prescribed and given to students in need, and an additional 233 children were identified as needing advanced eye care.

Seva is also focused on training the next generation of American Indian eye care professionals. In 2014 we provided support and equipment for training 35 Native American students to become skilled vision technicians. These students are now on a path to become leaders in their field, providing eye care to Native communities where cultural and language barriers continue to present obstacles to accessing care.

To further this work, a new partnership was formed with the Kewa Public Health Corporation eye clinic, which serves 2,250 Native American patients per year. 

Team Picks

Two recent articles about child mortality and inequality in Angola by Nick Kristof highlight the cavernous gaps in wealth, access, and information, not only between countries, but within them.

Llamil Silman
Chief Marketing Officer

Jon Behar
Chief Operating Officer

Amy Schwimmer
Director of Operations

We congratulate Possible Health's Mark Arnoldy and Duncan Maru on being chosen Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs of 2015. The honor underscores the wide recognition of the quality work carried out by our Recommended Charities, all led by supremely talented and dedicated individuals.

Charlie Bresler 
Executive Director

Supporter Story

Boris Yakubchik

The couch was the best I could do.

I just turned 30 years old last month and it seemed like a good time to reflect on my life. My life is amazing, and it’s mostly because of luck. The primary reason is simply that I ended up living in one of the richest countries in the world – the U.S.A. This alone makes my quality of life enormously higher than that of the vast majority of people on the planet; for example, the U.S. GDP per capita is around $55,000 per year, while the world average is around $15,000.[1] Without working any harder than people in other countries, my income is roughly $40,000/year; this places me in the richest 2% of the world’s wage earners.[2] By world standards, my salary provides a superbly comfortable living for me and my soon-to-be wife.

It really is an amazing luxury to have air conditioning, a dish-washer, a second TV … I wouldn’t have realized it if I hadn’t lived outside of the US until the age of 10. So when I consider spending money on myself, I am often guided by the question “what is enough?”

Last year we finally figured out where we wanted to live for at least a decade, and bought a house. Even though New Jersey is one of the most expensive real-estate markets, we were able to find a 30-year-old, 920-square-foot, (stationary) mobile home for $50,000. By choosing a more-humble abode, we saved at least a few hundred thousand dollars without noticeably lowering our quality of life!

This brings me to my couch. We already had a couch left over from the previous owner of the house and it worked well: it was clean and comfortable. But it wasn’t our style. So we spent several hours shopping (online and in stores) and ended up finding a replacement for just $900: a couch, a loveseat, and an ottoman that we loved. But this story isn’t primarily about praising frugality; it’s about the sobering and humbling realization that a $900 living room suite, that’s not in any way a necessity, is considered a frugal purchase in America.

This by itself might not be shocking, until you put it in context. In Sub-Saharan Africa, almost 70% of the population lives on less per day than what $2.00 can buy in the US.[3] That means $900 could be more than what a family has to purchase food and other necessities for the entire year!

This dramatic contrast motivates me to find ways with which I can reliably help those less lucky than me. The most effective method I’ve found is to give money to charities that use research-based methods to help others. For example, if you donate $900 to the cost-effective Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) [4], the charity will provide almost 550 people[5] protection from malaria for three to four years!

I have for the past five years given at least 10% of my income to the most cost-effective charity I could find (so far it has usually been AMF) and I plan to continue to do so for the rest of my working life. Furthermore, I’ve found other opportunities to give. For the past five years I’ve been doing a birthday for charity: I just request of my friends that if they want to give me a gift, they consider donating to my favorite charity instead. It’s very easy to set up[6] and makes a world of a difference!

Boris lives in New Jersey, where he tutors mathematics, fixes computers, and reads non-fiction books on his couch.

This Month in Giving

World Health Day 2015: Food Safety

How safe is your food? An estimated 2 million people die yearly from contaminated food or drinking water. Dispensers for Safe Water has reached over 2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa; help them reach their goal of 25 million by 2018.


World Malaria Day 

The global malaria rate has been dramatically reduced; support Against Malaria Foundation in eliminating the threat remaining for half the world's population.

Highlights from Our Blog
  1. The Case for Bragging by Thomas Sittler

  2. How to Eat for Less than $2.50 and Raise Money for SCI by Tom Ash

  3. How Giving Games Teach Better Giving by Jon Behar

  4. Peter Singer's new book, The Most Good You Can Do 

The Life You Can Save is a 501(c)(3) - an official non-profit registered with the United States Internal Revenue Service. Donations to The Life You Can Save are tax-deductible to individuals filing taxes in the U.S.
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