One for the World- ending extreme poverty

Originally founded back in 2014 by classmates Kate Epstein and Josh McCann, One For The World (OFTW) started as a way to inform and educate their classmates on effective giving and taking action against extreme poverty.

According to One For the World’s website, “Our mission is to revolutionize charitable giving to end extreme poverty.” We’ll cover what is meant by “revolution[alizing] charitable giving,” further on in the article but, for now, we’ll look at how the charity aims to achieve this. Originally, the organisation was aimed towards students in the United States but has grown to include professionals and students outside of the US. They now focus their efforts through chapters of OFTW across university campuses and businesses in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. To this date, the organisation is made up of over eighty chapters, with the intention to expand to over one hundred by 2022. With such ambitions, it is no surprise how quickly the organisation has managed to grow, seen through their large amount of charity partners (sixteen) and the $1 million and counting they have donated to these charities.

Durham’s very own chapter of OFTW was founded this academic year. Susanne Karbe, an economics PhD student with Ustinov college, is the chapter leader for OFTW Durham. She first came across OFTW last year when she acted as the chapter leader for Raise at Durham. According to Susanne, Raise is another student-run initiative that “aims to change the way we as students engage with and think about charity by showing that when we deliberately give to charity and embrace the potentially huge impact we can have, giving can be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.” With this prior knowledge and experience, Susanne comes to OFTW Durham with the recognition of the problems faced by most students in regards to charitable giving, “Many students want to do good, but don’t necessarily know the best way how.” But all is not bleak, “One For The World provides an answer.” That answer comes through in the way OFTW operates. Unlike most other charities that ask for weekly or monthly donations of a set amount, OFTW operates through pledges made by students to donate 1% of their future income to charity.

The organisation is distinct from many similar groups for its dedication to effective giving and core belief of effective altruism. For people unfamiliar with these terms, you wouldn’t be alone. Before my interaction with One For The World Durham, I had no clue what they meant either. Effective altruism is both a philosophy and social movement, that “works on the simple and intuitive premise that if we want to do good and help others but have limited resources, those resources should be allocated to where they can do the most good.” For OFTW, this means a highly vetted list of only the most effective charities in their portfolio. The organisation works with GiveWell, an independent charity evaluator, to identify the charities that best meet their criteria of evidence of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, need for more funding and transparency to ensure their funds are creating the best positive effect possible. To see more on One For the World’s missions, aims and charities, please visit here.


I asked Susanne some questions about OFTW Durham. Here are the responses:

With so many great organisations to support, why should others choose to support OFTW? 

“Roughly 10% of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty, on less than US$1.90 per day, and 15,000 children under the age of 5 die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Much of the suffering caused by extreme poverty can be easily prevented or mitigated with simple, cost-effective interventions.

“Many of us want to do good, but don’t know what the best way to do this is. Embracing effective giving allows your donation to help improve the most lives possible. Furthermore, OFTW is a very flexible platform that allows you to support either one charity or a number of different charities, all of which are highly cost-effective. Perhaps most importantly, by pledging to give a certain percentage of our future income through OFTW, you will not only support your chosen charities right now but commit to making an impact far into the future.”


What can people, namely students, that aren’t currently working, do to help?

“The fact you don’t have a regular income does not mean you cannot join OFTW. On the contrary, OFTW was designed to accommodate precisely this issue! As a student joining OFTW, you can take the pledge on our website. Rather than start donating straight away, the platform allows you to set a start date by which you would like to start donating (the time you expect to start earning), and how much you would like to donate.

“You might further ask yourself if I don’t have a regular income, why should I take the pledge now at all? Why not wait until I have a regular income? Or why take a pledge at all? The answer is simple. Taking a pledge to give regularly in the future can act as a commitment device. It is just a fact of life that we put off many things that we think are worthwhile and want to do. Taking the giving pledge now prevents that problem, and ensures that the future impact you want to have is locked in. Indeed, there is increasing evidence that pre-committing can help people who want to donate to charity to stick to their goals.

“Next to taking the pledge yourself, you can become a OFTW student ambassador! Help spread the word about this highly impactful initiative, and encourage other students and your friends to take the pledge too.”


What is the easiest way to get involved? 

“Follow us on social media, sign up to be a student ambassador, and come along to our events! You can also help out with our pledge week, which will take place in the first week of December.”


One For The World Durham has a Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Instagram and even a LinkedIn.

Thank you to Susanne for her time and response.

Featured image:Suzy Yang on The Bubble Photography & Illustration Drive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Our YouTube Channel