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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Cardholders Can Support The Life You Can Save And Its Efforts to Aid Worthwhile Charities Worldwide

Cardholders Can Support The Life You Can Save
Andrew Allen

Written by: Andrew Allen

Andrew Allen
Andrew Allen

For nearly 20 years, Andrew has worked for financial institutions ranging from regional investment organizations to some of the largest banks in the world. At Wells Fargo, Andrew was a Consultant within the Insight and Innovation division. A graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, Andrew’s goal has been promoting personal financial wellness and solid money decisions. As a Staff Writer for CardRates, Andrew seeks to inform readers of solutions to help them on their path to financial freedom.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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In a Nutshell: Individuals seeking to donate to a charity may struggle to select the charity to support. The Life You Can Save is a nonprofit organization that uses a research team to assess where donated funds can make the most impact. The nonprofit allows donors to contribute to cause funds, which spread a single donation to several charities. The Life You Can Save offers tools, including an impact calculator and a questionnaire, that help donors select a charity to support.

In the early 1970s, Peter Singer, who was a graduate student at the University of Oxford at the time, wrote an essay on the moral obligation of affluent people to support humanitarian efforts titled “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.” 

In 2009, Singer expanded the ideas he’d first introduced in his essay nearly 40 years earlier into a book titled “The Life You Can Save.” The book became well known in the charitable-giving community, particularly among those practicing or interested in learning about effective altruism.

Charlie Bresler first read “The Life You Can Save” in 2013 while vacationing in Hawaii. Bresler, who had served as the president of The Men’s Wearhouse, had been an activist while in college. He was looking for a new challenge and an opportunity to do good in the world.

Bresler was influenced by the arguments Singer made in “The Life You Can Save,” especially Singer’s stance that people have an ethical obligation to assist individuals living in extreme poverty. We spoke with Charlie Bresler to learn more about how Singer’s ideas influenced him and ultimately led to the creation of the nonprofit organization The Life You Can Save.

The Life You Can Save logo

Bresler, The Life You Can Save’s Executive Director, said he was so affected by Singer’s words that, after finishing reading the book, he wrote an email to Singer. Bresler had never met or heard of Singer before receiving a copy of “The Life You Can Save.” 

“Peter outlined in the book how a little bit of money, relatively speaking, can save peoples’ lives,” Bresler said. “After I’d finished the book, I emailed Peter completely out of the blue and we began exchanging messages. My wife and I then made the decision to provide the seed money to establish The Life You Can Save as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.”

Donations Go Further in the Developing World

In 2019, the charitable organization The Life You Can Save purchased the rights to “The Life You Can Save,” the book, from the book’s publisher. The nonprofit then created an audiobook version featuring celebrities and notable figures reading chapters of the book.

Singer-songwriter Paul Simon, actors Kristen Bell and Stephen Fry, and Singer and Bresler are all narrators on the “The Life You Can Save” audiobook. Interested parties can purchase “The Life You Can Save” from select retailers or download it directly from The Life You Can Save’s website.

Charlie Bresler
Charlie Bresler is The Life You Can Save’s Executive Director.

Bresler said The Life You Can Save used seed money and other funds the organization raised to build the nonprofit’s staff. The Life You Can Save uses the majority of the money it raises to fund the organization’s recommended charities.

“We’ve moved close to $100 million to our recommended nonprofits over the last ten years,” Bresler said. “We believe we’ve raised close to $15 for every dollar we’ve spent on our operations.”

The Life You Can Save employs a team of researchers to determine where donations can have the most significant impact. Bresler said donated dollars go further in the developing world than in the U.S. The organization can provide food fortification of minerals to a child in the developing world for an annual cost of only 50 cents.

“We start with the premise that all lives are equally valuable,” Bresler explained. “One of the problems that people sometimes have with international giving is they say, ‘We have so many problems in the United States, why not just give locally?’. And it’s true — we have a lot of poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity in the U.S. But solving those problems in the U.S. is dramatically more expensive than it is in the developing world.”

Cause Funds Allow Donors to Expand Reach

Individuals seeking to make philanthropic donations may find it challenging to pinpoint which cause or effort to support. Bresler said The Life You Can Save recognizes the challenge of selecting a charity to support and offers donors the option of donating to cause funds.

Cause funds allow donors to distribute their charitable contributions to several charities with a single donation. 

“We put together the cause funds to make giving easier for people who may not have the time or resources to research charitable organizations and causes themselves,” Bresler said.

The Life You Can Save offers seven cause funds, including a fund that supports women and girls, a fund focused on saving lives, and a fund devoted to improving educational opportunities for children and adolescents.

The Life You Can Save's Education For All Fund screenshot
The Life You Can Save offers seven cause funds.

The Life You Can Save offers tools to help donors understand the impact of charitable giving. Donors can use The Life You Can Save’s impact calculator to determine the effect of their donations. For example, by entering “100” into the impact calculator’s USD box and selecting “Seva Foundation” in the charity box, donors can see that a charitable donation of $100 to the Seva Foundation can provide six people in low-income countries with eye screening and a pair of glasses.

Bresler said The Life You Can Save provides 100% of the donations it receives to beneficiaries.

“One of the concerns people can have regarding international giving is they think the money they donate will be ripped off by a government official or corrupt local bureaucrat,” Bresler said. “But our impact calculator shows you what’s going to happen with the money you give. It gives people reassurance that their donated money is going to support the causes they intend to support.”

The Life You Can Save Provides Advisory Services 

The Life You Can Save accepts any size donation. The nonprofit offers an advisory service to assist family offices, foundations, and large individual donors interested in donating to The Life You Can Save but unsure where to direct their funds.

The organization’s advisory services can help donors develop a giving portfolio.

“A giving portfolio may be a combination of international and domestic charities that expand a donor’s charitable diversification,” Bresler said. “The advisory services we provide are a really important aspect of our work.”

Bresler said international conflicts and natural disasters, which typically receive a significant amount of media coverage, are essential to support financially. But The Life You Can Save focuses on helping people whose everyday financial circumstances present frequent challenges.

“It’s really important for organizations to assist refugees who are having problems and those who live in areas that have experienced natural disasters, but that’s not our specialty,” Bresler said. “Our specialty is trying to address the everyday disaster experienced by people living in poverty. We help those who may have to face unique challenges — I would call it the tragedy of everyday life — simply by being born into a particular place and time.”