Students’ charitable abstinence


Balliolite Rossa O’Keeffe-O’Donovan gave up drinking for one month last November, saving approximately £100. In the cause of charity, he has pledged not to touch a drop of alcohol for at least six months.

Along with other members of the charity group Giving What We Can, Rossa has given up luxuries as his New Year’s resolution and will be donating the money saved to charity.

His November ‘dry run’ encouraged him to undertake the full six months: “I genuinely didn’t feel any less happy, and friends were surprisingly supportive – the football team let me take initiations with milk, although that wasn’t overly pleasant. When I sat down and figured out how much I have spent on alcohol in my life, and how much good that money could do if given to the right charities, I thought, ‘why not’?”

Niel Bowerman has also given up alcohol and other luxuries for New Year’s.

Giving What We Can, an international society dedicated to eliminating poverty in the developing world, encourages students to direct their charitable giving towards organisations whose cost efficiency has been researched and approved. All its members have pledged to give 10 percent of their income to charity.

Giving What We Can was founded in 2009 by Dr Toby Ord, Professor of Ethics at Balliol. Dr Ord leads by example and gives away everything he earns over £20,000. He has calculated that he’ll donate over £1 million during the course of his career.

Based on their research into the world’s most cost-effective charities, Giving What We Can currently encourages donations to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) and Deworm the World.

It began in Oxford and now has bases in five cities, including Cambridge, Princeton and San Diego. The London base is due to launch in early 2012. Members have collectively pledged over £27,000,000 to charity.


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