Boonin & Singer Raising Funds to Reduce COVID-19’s Impact in Poorer Countries


David Boonin, professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and organizer of the Colorado Summer Seminar in Philosophy for undergraduates, was hoping to get Peter Singer (Princeton) to participate in one of the seminar’s sessions. But he knew that Singer, who is a very well-known philosopher and in-demand speaker, and who spends a lot of his time working to promote efforts to help the needy, would be hard to get.

So Boonin made Singer the following offer:

He would name a charitable organization of his choosing, pick a dollar amount that he challenged me to raise for that organization, and if I succeeded, he would Zoom in and do a session with our summer seminar students. 

Singer agreed. Here is his response:

OK, David, you’re on. But I’m going to make it challenging for you. You need to raise $10,000 to donate to Development Media International, a top charity recommended by The Life You Can Save and one of GiveWell’s Standout Charities. 

Why DMI, in particular, on this occasion? Because it is uniquely placed to reduce the impact of Covid-19 in some of the world’s poorest countries. DMI is an organization specializing in the use of the media to promote healthy practices in developing countries. It works in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, and has experienced teams providing health advice through local radio stations and other media. It has strong relations not only with the media in those countries, but also with the government health departments. In the current crisis, we all know how important it is to provide everyone with information about how to stay safe and reduce the chances of getting the novel coronavirus. In affluent countries, we are bombarded with media providing us with this information. In the countries in which DMI operates, however, and especially in rural areas, information sources are scarce. Moreover, when people in these regions do become seriously ill with Covid-19, most are unable to get hospital care. Hence prevention is by far the most cost-effective means of saving lives and DMI is, in my opinion, the organization best placed to do this. 

This effort combines two good causes—philosophical education and public health in developing countries. To take part in it, you can make a donation through this link. It’s important that you use that link (or click on the image below) so that the Summer Seminar in Philosophy gets credit for the contributions, and forward a copy of your receipt to Professor Boonin at [email protected]. Thanks.

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David Boonin
David Boonin
10 months ago

Thanks, Justin! One more good reason to donate to DMI via the TLYCS website rather than directly to DMI is that while every dollar will still go to DMI, TLYCS can take credit for facilitating the donation which in turn helps TLYCS raise funds to support its modest operating budget, which in turn helps to support a large number of other effective charitable organizations in addition to DMI. I know the $10,000 goal Singer set is ambitious, but I have one generous potential donor lined up who may well donate enough to get us to the goal if we can get somewhat close to it without them first, and even if we don’t raise enough to meet the target Singer set, obviously the main thing is that we will have raised a good deal of money for an important cause at a crucial time.Report

Patrick Lin
10 months ago

Interesting idea!

Would this Zoom chat be recorded and published? Any way to make it an open session, maybe a global event? (I know Zoom has limits on number of participants, depending on what license you have.)

If you open up the session, you could perhas get another organization to co-sponsor, if you need help raising the funds.Report

Patrick Lin
10 months ago

Also, what is the timeframe for raising funds? I don’t see a deadline on the donation page or here…Report

David Boonin
David Boonin
Reply to  Patrick Lin
10 months ago

Thanks, Patrick, we left it a bit open ended. I said something about the end of May, but early June to even mid-June would still give us enough time to schedule a visit from him. And I will most likely open the event up to others but giving priority to the students in terms of asking questions — will think a bit about the implications for then finding a cosponsor. Thanks again.Report