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Earning to give

“The essence of trauma is loss of contact with yourself, loss of connection to yourself.” — Dr. Gabor Maté

David Luescher
2 min read

An idea for you to consider

Would Bill Gates have done more good if he’d worked at a small nonprofit?

We don’t normally think of software engineering or investing as a path to doing good. However, Gates has had an incredible humanitarian impact through philanthropy and has already saved the lives of millions of people. I guess that compensates for the occasional blue screen of death that we have to deal with (sorry Microsofties 😉).

We have about 80’000 working hours in our career: 40 years x 48 weeks x 42 hours. Let’s face it: If we want to live a fulfilled life, our choice of career is an important aspect.

For most of us it is easy to get a job that pays the bills and some of us have the option to accept high-paying job opportunities. Yet, weirdly enough, even if we have the option to accept higher-earning job offers, we usually don’t think of earning more money as a path to doing good and contributing to a more fulfilled life.

Today I would like to challenge this perception by introducing the controversial idea of “earning to give”.

Earning to give is the idea of donating part of your income to efficient charities.

If you had the opportunity to accept a higher-earning position, you might have found yourself worrying that you won’t make a difference with your work.

However, depending on your situation, accepting a better-paid job offer and donating the surplus income to charity may have a greater social impact than working for a charity.

According to the earning to give strategy, as long as the job you’d accept:

  • offers a personal fit
  • doesn’t cause harm
  • is higher-earning and has a good outlook

you should accept the offer and donate the income surplus to efficient charities.

If this strategy doesn’t give you the type of fulfilment you’re looking for with your career, you of course might still want to explore working directly on a pressing problem. The NGO 80,000 Hours provides research and support to help students and professionals switch into careers that effectively tackle the world’s most pressing problems. Also, they mail a free book to everyone who signs up for their newsletter. 

A great TED talk for you

This TED talk is a must see for every entrepreneur and leader of an organization.

How do you build a psychologally safe workplace by Amy Edmondson

A quote for you to ponder

“The essence of trauma is loss of contact with yourself, loss of connection to yourself.” — Dr. Gabor Maté



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