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The Life You Can Save (TLYCS)

July 2023: RC Forward has made changes to how it operates. Fundraising is paused for most campaigns. We advise donors to give tax-effectively if possible while prioritizing impact over tax benefits. If you wish to donate to this charity directly without a donation receipt, please donate on their website. To make a donation eligible for a donation receipt, please visit our new donation page (link). For more information, please read our update (link). Contact us (link) if you have questions or need support.

The Life You Can Save (TLYCS), founded by renowned philosopher Peter Singer, aims to change the culture of giving in affluent countries such that dramatically more donations are allocated to highly impactful non-profit organizations that reduce suffering and premature death for people living in extreme poverty.

Please note that this page is not for donations to TLYCS’s top charities. You can give unrestricted donations to TLYCS’s top charities through the RC Forward Global Health Fund or Human Empowerment Fund. Alternatively, you can donate directly to one of TLYCS’s recommended charities.

About this charity

Hear directly from TLYCS’s team about their work:

The mission of The Life You Can Save (TLYCS) is to change the culture of giving in affluent countries while dramatically raising annual donations to highly impactful non-profit organizations that reduce suffering and premature death for people living in extreme poverty.

TLYCS was founded by Peter Singer, widely recognized as one of the world’s most influential contemporary philosophers. We advance the ideas in his 2009 book, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, which Bill and Melinda Gates described as “a persuasive and inspiring work that will change the way you think about philanthropy.” In it, Peter argues that if we can provide immense benefit to someone at minimal cost to ourselves, we should do so. And since there are charities that dramatically improve, or even save, the lives of people living in extreme poverty (i.e., living on less than $1.90 USD per day) for relatively little cost, we should support those highly effective charities.

In 2013, Charlie Bresler, formerly president of a large apparel company, approached Peter about expanding TLYCS. Charlie provided funding to turn the organization into a registered 501(c)(3) charity, began serving as a volunteer executive director, and started building a small team. Since then, we’ve worked to bring the ideas from The Life You Can Save to new audiences via our website, speaking engagements, media appearances, philanthropy education workshops, our newsletter, blog, and social media. We also provide tools that make it easy for people to donate effectively, such as our list of recommended evidence-backed charities, and our Impact Calculator that shows how far your donation can go. In short, we aim to inspire people to support the world’s poor, and we empower them to make the greatest impact possible.

Philosophy may be in our DNA, but as an advocacy organization, our feet are firmly anchored in the real world. We speak to both heads and hearts, and try to make it easy and meaningful to make a difference. Even Peter Singer admits falling short of his ideals: while he donates a third of his income to effective charities and says “the next step is half,” he’s also the first to admit that he could — and ethically should — do more.

We urge you not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. As the statesman Edmund Burke put it, “nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” If a large gift feels overwhelming, try a small one first. The people you’ll help will thank you for whatever you can do.

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