Saturday, January 9, 2010

Another way to decide how much to give

Here's an interesting idea from Ka-Ping Yee, a software engineer working with He writes:


I am trying an experiment I call "personal consumption offsets" (

In 2010, I'll match everything I spend on a non-essential purchase
with an equal donation to an effective charity.

I think there is a good chance that this method may have both practical
and psychological benefits:

1. Anybody can apply this plan, regardless of income.

2. The statement of the pledge is simple and does not involve
choosing arbitrary numbers.

3. I will make more total donations than by pledging 5% of my income.

4. It will motivate me to donate more to charity (because it means
more enjoyment for myself).

5. It will enhance my enjoyment of the things I buy for myself
(because I will know that it also benefits others).

If you like this idea, please consider passing it on


I like it, so I'm passing it on. It resembles, to some extent, the idea behind, which is also worth a look.

I have only one tiny cavil. In his blog, Ka-Ping Yee describes this as an alternative to take the pledge that I have invited people to take, at But why not do both? If you give in this way, then unless you have an extremely high income, or spend almost nothing on non-essential items [or both - but that is unlikely} you will exceed the pledge level. And taking the pledge spreads the message to others - it helps them to see that many people are giving significantly to those in extreme poverty.

1 comment:

  1. Since I am an unemployed high school student, the income pledge is hard for me to do. The matching pledge works for me.

    Mostly, I would like to join a community of givers I can talk to, because I find it easy to push my moral obligations into the back of my mind. The Life You Can Save had me almost in tears by the end; I only wish I could find some way to sustain that effect.