Saturday, June 13, 2009

Special Guest Blog: How Students Can Support a Millennium Village?

Reading The Life You Can Save I got pretty excited and with good reason I think too. Last year at Carleton University our group, Students To End Extreme Poverty, worked to get a question to referendum where students voted on whether or not they would all have to automatically pay an additional $6 in tuition fees ($5352 instead of $5346) to help support a Millennium Village. It worked. Carleton students now contribute over $110,000 annually.

Here is our hope: By getting enough universities and organizations to support Millennium Villages (aside from helping a couple communities help themselves out of extreme poverty) it would raise enough awareness, get enough media attention, engage enough people, foster enough cooperation, and generate enough civil society will to see policy changes: more and better aid, fairer trade, and debt cancellation.

Worst case scenario: thousands of people, many of whom would otherwise be dead, will have the basic tools they need to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Just like professor Singer pointed out, if we remove the barriers to involvement and giving – people can always opt out if they don’t like it – the great majority of people will stay involved in alleviating global poverty and be happy they did with ”the right kind of nudge”. Facilitating institutionalized giving of 1% of people’s incomes could easily generate enough money to make a massive impact on some of the worst effects of extreme poverty and send a clear message to our governments: act now to end world poverty. Norway even gives 1% as a country.

Institutions and their employees don’t usually do this for global poverty. They can; it’s just that oodles of people haven’t leapt at the opportunity to make it happen. Efforts like these can be going on in a variety of fashions across the world. In Canada alone there are 18 million people in the labor force with nearly 4.5 million people in unions. Over two million of those unionized workers are in nine unions. That’s not a logistical nightmare to try and make happen. Want to make a difference? Opportunities like this abound.

What have we got to lose in going for it? Especially if it’s benefiting a stellar organization like Millennium Promise or Oxfam where the money is spent transparently, where there are monitorable objectives and where it is making a demonstrable difference in people’s lives one person or one community at a time.

This is something that we as a global community can run with. There are numerous ideas like these that with little time produce results thousands of times the size of the effort they take. There are a number of us working on similar initiatives so please get in touch if you want to help. James Grant said “the problem is not that we have tried to eradicate global poverty and failed; the problem is that no serious and concerted attempt has ever been made”. Sadly it’s true; however on the plus side, there really has never been a better time to make poverty history.

Bryan Turner
Youth Engagement Coordinator
Make Poverty History Canada

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Going Multinational

The Life You Can Save is becoming a truly multinational website. It is now available in 12 languages, including Chinese, with more translations on the way. And the 3346 people who have pledged to give a percentage of their income to help the world's poor come from 59 countries! We have a new map, courtesy of Google, that shows which countries have the most people pledging (although you need to move down to the more detailed level to get this accurately, as at the global level the map groups several countries together). Here's the list of countries from which people have pledged:

Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Hong Kong
Korea, Republic of
New Zealand
South Africa
United Kingdom
United States

Of course, we'd like to get pledges from even more countries. Russians, where are you? As for the number of pledges, they are still moving up steadily, but please spread the word, and remember that everyone who pledges is setting an example for others to follow and helping to change the culture about giving.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Translating the website

We are looking for native speakers of a variety of languages who are willing to volunteer to translate the text of the website ( into as many languages as possible. We started with Swedish and have Russian, Polish, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Hebrew, French, Italian, German, Chinese both simplified and traditional, Dutch, Romanian, Tagalog Filipino, Danish, Korean and Japanese now. We also have volunteers for Catalan, Lithuanian, Slovenian and probably Arabic. If you are a native speaker of a language not included in this list, and can spare the time to translate a few pages of text, please email us at Thanks!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Giving More - gradually

After a talk I gave at the London School of Economics yesterday, one person told me that he'd begun giving a few years ago, starting at 1/% of his income, as the website ( recommends for 90% of taxpayers, but increasing this by an additional 1% each year. That's an easy way to build up slowly - and especially if you are young, as this person was, it's going to mean that in a few years you will be giving a significant amount, but not in a way that ever causes a shock to your budget. Worth thinking about.

Peter Singer

Friday, March 13, 2009

And The Number Keeps Growing And Growing!!!!!

Thanks so much to everyone who has pledged on the website. The number of clicks are rising fast now, because of the excellent publicity the book is getting.
If you haven't visited the website, recently, it's worth going back there to catch up with all the reviews, blogs and discussions about the book. There was a great piece in The New York Times and there are many other good reviews as well. And even those reviews and blogs that have critical points to make are contributing to a valuable discussion about aid.

posted on behalf of Peter Singer - he is so busy at the moment...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

500 Pledges!

More than 500 people have now gone to and pledged to donate a share of their income to organizations helping the world's poor. Given that the website has only be up for 3 weeks, and The Life You Can Save has so far only been published in Australia and New Zealand, that's way beyond our expectations. It's obviously been helped by the fantastic media response to the book in Australia, and the sold-out talks I've been giving in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Next week I'm off to Perth.

If you are one of those who has pledged already, THANK YOU! If not, please take a look at the website and think about doing so.

The book will be published in the US and Canada on March 2, and I'll be doing a publicity tour starting on that date - traveling to San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Indianapolis, Washington DC, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Toronto. Then on to the UK and Sweden. Check for details. I'll keep you informed on how it goes, and I'm looking forward to many more people learning about the book, and the website, and pledging as well.

Remember to spread the word. As I describe in the book, there is a lot of evidence that the more people see that others are giving, the more likely they are to give. So pledging is just a start, letting others know of the opportunity to pledge is even more important.

Peter Singer

Monday, February 2, 2009

Publication Day!

Hi, this is Peter Singer, welcoming you to The Life You Save, the blog that accompanies the new website,

Yesterday was publication day for my new book, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. OK, only in Australia, so far. The next edition to appear will be the US and Canadian edition, due out on March 3rd. That will be followed by the UK and then the Swedish editions, in March/April.

And yesterday, we launched the website, so if you haven't seen it yet, go there now. (It's all due to an incredible volunteer who, at least for the moment, wishes to remain anonymous.) Amazingly, we already have more than 40 people who have pledged to meet the standard for giving suggested in the book. Presumably most of them haven't read the book yet, but heard about it - I was busy doing radio and tv interviews all yesterday - and found enough information on the website to know that this was something they wanted to do - or were already doing.

I hope this blog will be a place where you will want to post your thoughts, and exchange ideas with others about both the book and the website. The rest is up to you.

Peter Singer