Taking the Giving What We Can pledge

Giving What We Can pledge: FIRE Belgium

It’s been a very long time since I posted a blog post. 2021 has been a very busy year 🙂 Our family has a new member, the community has grown incredibly (x5 in just a year!), and I have developed an entire new business activity which will support the community, its members and beyond: the index investing online course.

But I’m not here to talk about the program, that will have to wait for a bit longer.

I’m here to share something else.

Last month, I finally took the plunge. I took the Giving What We Can pledge and to donate minimum 10% of the profits from the activities of FIRE Belgium to effective charities. I intend to increase this in the future. But this is a first step.

This is something I had been thinking about doing for a a while, but I only moved forward after having the confidence I would have something to give this year. Starting a business is not easy and making a profit in the first year is hard too.

But I have to say that probably wasn’t the only reason. A big part of my hesitation was also the fact that donating money is not easy.

Donating to charity is not something that was part of my upbringing or the culture I grew up in.

I have donated on occasions before, to specific fundraisers (or the ones I organized) or specific projects, but committing to donating on a consistent basis is a completely new thing.

And it’s funny how donating a percentage of profit works…

If you’re not earning much… then donating 10% can feel like a lot!
Because you need every euro and, what you can save, you probably should keep (and invest).

And when you’re earning more… then 10% of more becomes a big number… clearly bigger than what most other people would donate.

So there isn’t really a good time or wealth level to take this sort of pledge. It’s always a bit awkward at first.

Being financially independent probably helps with this, but lots of people have way more than me and struggle with the same hesitations or internal conflicts.

But once the pledge is taken… somehow things get easier!

No more wondering about whether or not to give or how much. I’m committed. And it feels good.

All I have to do is do my normal thing and donate a portion of profits as planned.

And I know it will have an incredible impact, and that this impact will grow with the growth of this new business.

In case you’re curious, here is my pledge:

I, Sebastien Aguilar, recognize that FIRE Belgium can use part of its profits to do a significant amount of good. I pledge that from the 1st of January 2021, FIRE Belgium shall give at least 10% of net profits to whichever organisations can most effectively use it to improve the lives of others, now and in the years to come. I make this pledge freely, openly, and sincerely.

Sebastien Aguilar – Founder, FIRE Belgium

As I said, I am hoping to increase this over time. Right now I am still trying to make this business actually work and be sustainable :-).

And it’s not there yet. Most of it depends on the time I can invest (which is limited) and one the fact that I am not paying myself. So right now it’s not exactly sustainable, but I am hoping to get there this year.

Right now I am calling this model the “for-profit-for-impact” model. But maybe there are better names out there?

If you’re wondering what effective charities are and how different (and much more effective) they are from the usual “minimum-overhead-cost” type of charity, check out Giving What We Can, GiveWell and the Effective Altruism movement!

So this is the beginning of FIRE Belgium’s philanthropy journey! Let’s see where it will take us!

Taking the Giving What We Can pledge

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