Why We Donate All Our Profits, and Why You Should Be Donating Too

Why We Donate All Our Profits, and Why You Should Be Donating Too

Do I have a moral obligation to donate money to charities?

Consider the famous thought experiment raised by moral philosopher Peter Singer. You are walking to work one morning wearing a brand-new suit. You spent a lot of money on your new suit, and you even have an important meeting to attend. On your commute, you hear a child screaming for help. You follow the cries for help and notice the child drowning in a nearby pond. If you intervene, your new suit will be ruined and you will be late for your meeting, but the child will be saved. If you remain indifferent, the child will die. What do you do?

Despite the high price tag of the new suit and the inconvenience of being late to the meeting, most people would have the moral intuition to intervene. This is because the morally correct intuition would be that the value of a human life far exceeds the cost of a new suit. Even if that new suit was really expensive.

Perhaps we only have that moral intuition because the child is drowning in front of us. Maybe we would’t be as inclined to intervene if the child was dying in a faraway land. But is distance a morally acceptable reason to remain indifferent?

Consider the following scenario. Your partner is on a work trip to Africa. They contract a life threatening disease while they are away. Does their well-being matter less to you because they are far from home? Does distance really devalue the importance of a life?

This is an inconvenient truth, but if your answer, like many faced with these ethical dilemmas, is “no”, and you want to act in accordance with your moral obligations of aid, then you should be donating to charity. As it turns out, the price of a new suit could help save lives and do some good in the world. 

What kind of good can I do with my donations?

One of the main problems with the world is that the system by which charity is acquired is flawed. Consider the following example. According to a Forbes list of America’s Top Charities, the charities that accumulate the most funding are not the ones that do the most good. For each charity, the metric for effectiveness if different. So by “the most good”, we mean the number of lives saved. 

Among the list, you can find organizations such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and other charities that do good, but not “the most good”. The Young Men's Christian Association, for example, is an organization best known in the U.S. for its fitness facilities. It has accumulated over $7 billion in revenue. An even bigger problem when it comes to charitable donations is how billionaires use their wealth to create extravagant new buildings in ivy league schools. For example, an $30 million donation from an alumnus to Princeton University has aided in building luxurious, mansion-like dormitories for students. But Ivy League school do not need your donations. According to sources, the total endowment value of Ivy League colleges is already more than $190 billion dollars. Your donation can have a greater impact when it is used to support a charity that is actively working to improve the lives of those in need and make the world a better place. 

So where can you have the biggest impact? According to GiveWell, Malaria is one of the leading causes of child mortality, killing over 600,000 people annually, mostly children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. According to GiveWell it costs around $7 to protect a child from malaria for one year. You can use tools such as the impact calculator of The Life You Can Save to see what kind of good you can do with your donations. For example, a donation of $70,000 USD donation to Against Malaria Foundation can purchase 35,000 bednets to protect those living in malaria-stricken areas from infected mosquitos, or in other words, help save 17 lives.

Here at BOAS, we carefully research and select the organizations we choose to donate to. Sure, we could help make the dorms at ivy league schools more luxurious, but that is not where we believe we can have the most impact. We care about saving lives, which is why we donate all of our profits to the following trusted organizations:

Againt Malaria Foundation (AMF): is an international non-profit organization that works to fight malaria in the developing world. The charity works to protect people from the disease by distributing long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) to those at risk. The bed nets are designed to be used by people while they sleep, and have been proven to be highly effective in preventing mosquito bites. Additionally, the charity works to support research into malaria prevention and treatment and to raise awareness about the disease. AMF is a great charity because it is highly effective and cost-efficient, meaning that every donation goes a long way towards protecting people from malaria.

OVD-Info: is an independent, volunteer-run organization that provides legal and informational support to people arrested in Russia. It monitors political arrests, collects and publishes information about them, and advocates for the release of those arrested unlawfully. OVD-Info is a good charity because it provides on-the-ground support to people who are at risk of being unfairly targeted by authorities, as well as offering legal advice and support to those arrested.

Oxfam Novib: is an international development organization that works to fight poverty and injustice around the world. It works with local partners in more than 90 countries to tackle the root causes of poverty and to achieve lasting change. Oxfam Novib is dedicated to helping people access the resources they need to break out of poverty and contribute to the development of their communities. Oxfam Novib has a long history of providing emergency aid during times of crisis and works with local partners to find innovative solutions to poverty and inequality.

Kiva: is an international nonprofit organization that connects lenders and borrowers around the world to create opportunities through microfinance. Kiva’s mission is to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. Kiva is a great charity to donate to because of its commitment to empowering people in poverty with access to capital. The organization's loan program gives people who would otherwise not have access to capital to start or expand their businesses. Kiva also offers support and guidance to help borrowers use their loans responsibly and create lasting change. Additionally, Kiva ensures that all loan funds are used properly and borrowers repay their loans on time. This means that donors can trust that their donations are going towards a good cause and helping to create a positive impact.

We are also committed to working with GiveWell, a non-profit that seeks to find the most effective charities in the world. It evaluates charities and makes recommendations to donors on which charities are most likely to do the most good with their donations. GiveWell promises to help donors maximize the impact of their charitable giving by finding the charities that are most likely to improve the lives of the most people, as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Am I Rich Enough to Donate?

Now you must be thinking: “okay, if I had an extra $7 billion laying around, surely I would donate it.” The trick here is that you are richer than you think. What if we told you that over 700 million people earn less than $1.90 per day. If you are earning a wage in a developed country, you are already richer than most of the rest of the world. For example, the Netherlands is one of the richest countries in the world. The average person earning a wage makes around 38.500 euros per year. According to the Giving What We Can calculator: if you have a household income of €38,500, you are in the richest 1.7% of the global population. That puts your income at more than 30.5 times the global median. If you were to donate 10% of your income (€3,850) every year; you would aid the distribution of 930 insecticide-treated bednets, more than 4,847 treatments for schistosomiasis, and save at least 1 life a year. You would do all of that good, while still remaining richer than 98.3% of the world.

You can use this tool to calculate how rich you are in comparison to the rest of the world, and the impact your donations could have. 

I really don’t have the money to donate, how else can I help?

One of the main reasons why people choose not to donate is because the demand to donate individual funds competes with the donors' personal spending on necessities and comforts. We might have a solution for you. If you find that you do not have the extra funds to donate to charity, there is still a way to fulful your obligations of aid. In the article Profit for Good: The Free Way to Donate, we detail exactly how this works. In brief, if you do not have the funds to donate, you can shop from Profit for Good companies that donate for you. BOAS is a Profit for Good company that has taken a pledge to donate 100% of its profits. This means that you can still buy the same comforts and necessities, at the same price, while simultaneously doing good in the world. 

People are willing to spend excessive amounts of money on personal comforts and necessities. PFG companies are not encouraging you to cut back on your spending. Instead, they should buy the same comforts and necessitiews from PFG companies. This was the exact vision behind the “This is…” collection. Every shirt in the collection is designed to help a specific charitable cause. The profits made from each purchase will go directly to our designated. So the next time you want to buy a shirt, consider buying from a PFG company such as BOAS, and you can help make the world a better place. 

In the end, it is up to you how and where you choose to spend your money. But if you have found yourself at the end of this article, you probably are questioning how you can make an impact in the world. If you have decided already that you want your impact to be positive, donating to trusted organizations that maximize their impact is a good place to start. Unlike most companies that exist out there already, we choose to donate to organizations that help save lives instead of profiting individual investors. 

The main takeaway from this article should be the following. 

  1. If you would jump in the pond to save the drowning child, you have a moral obligation to donate. 
  2. You are probably richer than you think, and could afford to donate. 
  3. The world would be a better place if you donated to charities that aim to maximize impact instead of profit, so you should probably do your research before donating. 
  4. If you don’t have the funds to donate directly, or the extra time to do research, you can do good indirectly by shopping from Profit for Good companies such as BOAS :)