Roughly 10% of all the people in the world today live in extreme poverty, struggling to survive on less than $1.90 per day. But that also means that people in more privileged positions can make a big difference even with relatively small donations.
For many people living in more prosperous countries, donating a dollar a day is not a major sacrifice, but one that can save lives. Let’s imagine what would happen if a large number of people committed to regularly making small donations. Could this type of philanthropy become a global movement?
That’s exactly what One for the World is trying to achieve – and getting big results on the way.
One for the World is a non-profit whose mission is to help end extreme poverty by changing how charitable giving functions.
The organization streamlines the donation process and redistributes the contributions effectively to make a long-lasting impact in the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world. This happens thanks to a network of donors who commit to donate at least 1% of their salary over the span of their careers.
One for the World collaborates with GiveWell, a world-leading charity evaluator that does extensive academic research to assess which charities make the most impact per dollar spent.
GiveWell checks charities for effectiveness, transparency, and the ability to deploy more funding. A handful of the best-performing ones get a recommendation and get money distributed to them without additional fees.
With GiveWell’s guidance, One for the World guarantees that the funds go to the most effective charities, and donors can rest assured they are making the most impactful contributions without having to do constant due diligence themselves.
One for the World also spreads awareness of extreme poverty and the urgency of solving the issue. Extreme poverty is one of the most serious problems in the world today. It has dire and long-term consequences reaching far beyond the hardest-struck communities: people all over the word are facing serious malnutrition, don’t have access to drinking water, and suffer numerous health issues that simple and affordable procedures could help them avoid.
Many people also don’t realize how impactful a small donation can be: $50 for many people in developed countries buys a meal for two; for over 500 million people, $50 is a month’s wages.
Research shows that in the past only a fraction of the world’s population lived above what is referred to as the “extreme poverty line”. The fact that nowadays a larger percentage live in decent conditions is a relatively new phenomenon connected with progress and the industrial age. And it might be one of the biggest achievements we have made as mankind.
But the work is not over. Now, with all the technological progress and global connectedness, we should be able to also help those who are still being left behind and raise their living standards.
One for the World is convinced that if enough people join the case, these most urgent issues can be solved.
It is also noticeable that the current global recession will force people back into extreme poverty for the first time in decades.
The UN estimates that as many as 450 million people may fall back into extreme poverty as a result of COVID-19, after decades of steady progress in lifting people above the extreme poverty line.
One for the World currently recommends 16 charities which address issues like hunger, malnutrition, access to potable water, health care, education, and economic development. These charities together make an impact in over 90 countries worldwide, with the majority based in Africa, South Asia, and Oceania.
Many of the actions they fund aim to improve people’s long-term life prospects by targeting the most pressing matters affecting impoverished communities.
Below are just some of the initiatives One for the World members have sponsored to date:
One for the World’s long-term goal is to create a powerful movement of people who, by donating a small percentage of their income over time, will be able to completely eradicate extreme poverty in the world (which is currently defined as living on under US$1.90 a day).
One for the World holds most of their pledge drives at universities, targeting students who are about to enter the workforce. The founders set up the first chapter at the Wharton School in 2014.
Now the organization operates in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia with a network of volunteers running chapters at different schools. They are also expanding into corporate giving in 2020, targeting young professionals and the biggest graduate employers.
In the 2018-2019 academic year alone, over 1,550 students took the 1% pledge. For a person earning $60,000 a year, donating 1% of their salary means sacrificing only $1.64 per day, or – as One for the World points out - less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
It is, however, not difficult to imagine the impact a large number of such donors can make over time. You can see the impact of 1% of your salary (and how little it will cost you) using One for the World’s interactive impact calculator.
To expand their reach, One for the World recently decided to add new features to make donating even easier and more effective.
Netguru had the privilege to assist One for the World in introducing these new online tools that will help the organization realize its ambitious goals. And with these the non-profit might have especially tough times ahead. Like other charities around the world, One for the World is currently facing additional, COVID-19-related challenges. These are twofold.
Firstly, the communities they are helping are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. People living below the global poverty line can not afford to take any more setbacks.
The second challenge is to make sure the level of both the current donations and new pledges does not go down as many people find their focus drawn from helping make the world a better place to their own continued well being.
One for the World enlisted Netguru mainly to collaborate on two online features of their system.
One of the main issues we faced while working on the project was how to estimate the amount of queries the system will need to respond to and how to scale it properly. One for the World’s approach was to predict growth and scale accordingly.
But then the pandemic came and with it a global crisis. In this new environment, the first instinct of many charities is to stop focusing on growth and instead scale down enough to simply survive until the situation improves.
One for the World used Netguru’s digital expertise to make scalable changes in their system, which have been completed and are running smoothly.
At Netguru we are extremely proud of being able to contribute in a modest way to the growth of the global one percent movement that One for the World is promoting.
The new challenges will be different. During times of crisis, it’s natural to think that one can cut back on charitable giving and for charities to plan on scaling down.
However, One for the World’s aims to minimize this trend. They’re predicting that the communities they’re helping will be hit hard by COVID-19 and its consequences and will need even more help.
So One for the World is not planning to downsize – quite the opposite. They are thinking of further expansion.
Even though it would be natural for even well-off people to become more reluctant to donate, so far the organization can point to an impressive statistic: not a single one of their donors has withdrawn their donation pledge. This demonstrates how any given non-profit can keep doing invaluable work even in the face of unexpected obstacles by creating a devoted donor base and being effective and accountable.
Read the interview with Jack Lewars, Executive Director of One for the World.