10% of Harvard Donation


John Paulson, a wealthy hedge fund manager just donated $400 million to the Harvard School of Engineering, which will now bear his name. I have a hard time imagining how exciting it must be to get that check! To be able to cut that check!

But now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not sure an Ivy League school would be my first choice. Or even my second. I'm not the only one to think this. Author Malcom Gladwell had a rather poignant quote on Twitter, and Vox had an article earlier in May along the same lines.

So I wondered what could have been done with just 10% of his donation if it had been given to a highly effective charity? Harvard still gets $396 million (nothing to sniff at), John probably still gets the department named after him, and a nonprofit can make a huge difference in thousands, or millions of lives. So what is that other $40,000,000 really worth?

Here is the breakdown if just 10% of that had gone to any one of these highly effective charities:

  • 50,000,000 children protected from schistosomiasis for one year by SCI
  • 400,000,000 children dewormed, or 4,444,444 people provided clean water for one year by Evidence Action
  • 36,000 households funded (averaging 5 people each) by GiveDirectly
  • 24,096,385 people protected from malaria or 11,986 lives saved by the The Against Malaria Foundation
  • 26,666 schools built, or 222,222 hand washing stations, or 400,000 latrines built by Oxfam
  • 1,355,200 women transported, or 75,288 complete reparative surgeries completed by Fistula Foundation
  • 800,000 people cured of blindness via surgery, or 266 rural hospitals built by The Seva Foundation
  • 153,846,153 people provided with micronutrient food fortification for one year by Project Healthy Children
  • 1,600,000 people given high quality healthcare in rural Nepal by Possible
  • 2,250,984 years of healthy life provided by Population Services International

Any one of these things could be done with just 10% of his donation. Just 10% for what he already allotted to give away anyway.

Numbers via The Life You Can Save's this nifty charity impact calculator