Charitable giving isn’t easy. There are more than a million nonprofits in the United States alone, and it’s difficult for philanthropists to assess which ones are most deserving of donations. While Wharton students and alumni spend countless hours optimizing their investment strategies, they often make decisions about charitable donations with less-perfect information. With so many worthy causes, how can we optimize and simplify the process of giving?
Kate Epstein WG14 and Josh McCann WG14 co-founded One for the World to combat global poverty by identifying the world’s most effective charities and making it simple to donate to them. One for the World analyzes charities with the same rigor one might apply to financial investments, using data from randomized controlled trials and third-party charity evaluators to estimate the expected return for each donation. Whether it’s $6.40 to distribute an insecticide-treated bed net or $1 to deworm a young child, One for the World is taking the guesswork out of giving.
With the help of Corinne Low, assistant professor of business economics and public policy, and Katherine Klein, Wharton Social Impact Initiative vice dean and management professor, One for the World has grown dramatically in its first three years. Since it launched in the spring of 2014, more than 150 Wharton students have pledged to donate one percent of their income to effective charities. In addition, One for the World has launched chapters at Harvard, MIT, Columbia, and Dartmouth and is looking to expand into more universities. By the end of this year, One for the World will have contributed $200,000 to the world’s most effective charities.
Combating global poverty is a mission of decades, not years. But with good data and long-term commitment, One for the World is making it easier than ever to fight, and win, this battle. In the process, it has placed Wharton, a place often known for earning, at the vanguard of an even more important practice: giving.—Mike Goodwin and Josh McCann
Published in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Wharton Magazine.