Launching One for the World for Penn undergraduates

Shayna Fertig and Lauren D'Amore, Co-Presidents of the One for the World for Penn undergraduates

It’s sometimes easy to forget just how lucky we are. As Penn students, we get caught up in our own worlds and sometimes feel that our lives might end if we don’t get that top-tier banking internship and make $15,000 in one summer. If we take a step back and think about how much money this is in the context of the rest of the world, it seems a bit silly. Earning over $32,000 a year (which, upon graduation, almost every Penn student will) puts you in the top one percent of earners worldwide. So even if you don’t get that big banking job, you will likely still come out on top when looking at the bigger picture.

This puts Penn students in an incredibly powerful position. With over 700 million people living in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90/day), there is a lot of work to be done in helping others worldwide. But rather than be intimidated by this, there is a tangible way to make a true difference, and that is the mission of One for the World.

One for the World was founded two years ago by two Wharton MBA students, with the goal of making effective giving part of our everyday lives by having students pledge 1% of their future income to the world’s most effective charities. These organizations have been rigorously evaluated to maximize impact per dollar. Just 1% of the average Penn student’s future income, when donated to these organizations, can protect 350 people from malaria for three to four years, provide safe drinking water for 650 people for a year, or treat 600 children for parasitic worms. That’s a massive positive impact that each one of us has the potential to pretty painlessly make.

We were both a little intimidated when first hearing the idea of pledging 1%, but when you step back and look at it from different angles, it’s really not that scary. Earn $100, donate only $1 to the world’s most effective charities. Work a 50-hour week, donate a half hour of that time to helping others in a far less fortunate position. We all can make a difference.

The two of us got involved with One for the World fairly recently. In the midst of OCR and trying to figure out potential future careers, we wanted to find a way to make a positive change given the fortunate situation we’ve been put in as Penn students. As co-presidents of the undergraduate branch, we are proud of the work that has been done in just the past few months. We have instituted a student ambassador program, and now have 13 students helping to spread the message of One for the World throughout the undergraduate community. Through hosting community dinners and one-on-one coffee chats, we hope to introduce a culture of effective giving at Penn to the point where it becomes normal to pledge 1%.