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Toby Ord and his wife Bernadette Young

Toby Ord and his wife Bernadette Young

“If I can have a benefit for myself or give the same size benefit to 1000 other people — I think that is a no-brainer.”

“Some people ask me, in response to all of this, has it been difficult? It was about four years ago that I made this pledge to give all of my income above £20,000 per annum (about $27,000 USD). And my answer is, no. I was a grad student when I decided to do this. I had less than that amount of money. I have more now than I ever had before. And so, actually, I’m living pretty well.”

“The main difference is that there are some issues that I previously thought I was running away from, and now I feel like I’m tackling them head-on and making the most of my life and really trying to help people directly and effectively.”

“So, if anything, it’s not a sacrifice at all . . . “

The above quotations are from Toby Ord’s TEDx Talk, How To Save Hundreds of Lives, at Cambridge University. I was particularly struck by fact that he doesn’t see his modest life style or his generous giving as a sacrifice, and that he feels he is now tackling issues that he previously thought he was running away from.

Ord calculates that, allowing for inflation and pay rises, he will be able to donate £1million ($1,230,000 USD) over his life-time.

“My keenest enjoyments are all free, or at least within very modest means: reading a beautiful book, going for a picnic on a summer’s afternoon, spending a quiet evening at home with my wife.”

Toby is a research associate of the Faculty of Philosophy from Oxford University, and the founder of Giving What We Can, an international society dedicated to the elimination of poverty in developing worlds. Leading by example, he caps his income to £20,000 (about $27,000 USD) and donates the rest to charity.

He and his wife live in a one-bedroom rented flat in the grounds of Balliol College in Oxford. His wife, Bernadette Young, a junior hospital doctor, has capped her own salary at £25,000. Toby says that he expects her lifetime donations to top even his, although the couple have agreed to reduce their donations if they have children.