Peter Singer wins $1 million and donates proceeds

Peter Singer wins $1 million and donates proceeds

In the last newsletter, I spoke about being “down” a bit in the face of the pandemic and multiple world events, including the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC report. But now we all have something to be super, super excited about. My colleague, friend, inspiration, and founder of The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer, has received the 2021 Berggruen Prize in honor of a lifetime of achievements. Even more: in keeping with his principles, he has chosen to donate his entire US$1 million award to charity.

Peter is not just a brilliant thinker. He leads by example. And I hope he inspires us all to follow his lead!

Here’s what Peter had to say in the press release announcing the award:

“I am delighted that my work has been recognised by the jury that awards the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture, granted annually to individuals ‘for major achievements in advancing ideas that shape the world.’ Along with the honour, the Prize bestows a gift of US$1,000,000 to the winner. I have donated half of the prize to The Life You Can Save to continue promoting the most effective charities benefiting the world’s poorest people.

A substantial portion I donated to organisations working to end animal suffering, particularly in factory farming. Industrialized animal production causes untold misery to tens of billions of land animals every year, and to hundreds of billions of fish. It is also a disaster for our climate, and provides an ideal breeding ground for viruses that could cause future pandemics.

Finally, but importantly, I also will engage the many supporters of The Life You Can Save in allocating the remaining prize money to effective charities recommended by The Life You Can Save.”

When Peter first told us about the award and his plans for the prize money, my wife Diana and I talked a lot about Peter’s generous decision to support causes he believes in — such ending extreme poverty and factory farming — rather than keep the money for himself and his family. After all, Peter is a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather. He must have felt some desire to support his family. But Peter clearly decided that, with himself and his daughters already well established, it was important to donate his prize to the communities and causes it could benefit the most.

Peter’s profound generosity now has Diana and I once again rethinking how we allocate our money and where we might give more generously and more effectively. And I think it lays down a renewed challenge to all of us: How can we support his generous efforts with our own?

Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • Share the book with your networks. Encourage them to read the book, if you haven’t read it yet you can download it here
  • Have friends, colleagues, and family visit our website, view the videos on the homepage, including Peter’s TED talk (only 13 minutes of their time). Please try to get them to subscribe to our newsletter for ongoing communication with us and to sign up to vote for where Peter’s prize money will go to
  • Bring your workplace into the discussion through a zoom talk and/or your workplace giving program. Reach out to for more information.
  • Have a small group of vaccinated people in your home (if you are comfortable doing this), or arrange a zoom call to discuss the messages in the book. See if people, including yourself, are willing to take the pledge, which contains Peter’s suggestions for annual giving

We are truly overwhelmed by Peter’s generous donation to both The Life You Can Save itself and to our recommended charities. But we still very much need your support. Our recommended non-profits still have substantial funding gaps — on average US$5 million or more — that prevent them from being as impactful and cost-effective as they might be. Similarly, The Life You Can Save itself has a current funding gap of several million dollars, which prevents us from growing our organization, maximizing our impact, spreading Peter’s message to even more people, and generating more support for our Best Charities.

So to honor Peter and his amazing achievement, please donate generously to either our Best Charities or to The Life You Can Save itself. Congratulations to Peter and to all of you that support his life’s work!

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About the author:

Charles Bresler

Co-founder, Board Member

After earning a PhD in Social and Clinical Psychology, Charlie Bresler became director of behavioral medicine for The California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno (CSPP-F), where he was a full-time professor and founder of a teaching clinic for anxiety & stress disorders. In 1993, he was recruited by The Men’s Wearhouse, where he went on to be head of human resources, stores, marketing, and, ultimately, president. He stepped down in 2008 to fulfill his long-standing desire to work directly on social and economic issues, not too long after he read Peter Singer’s book, The Life You Can Save. Catalyzed by the concept, Charlie reached out to Peter and proposed combining Peter’s theory with the formation of a nonprofit to advance Peter’s ideas and to raise money for high-impact, cost-effective organizations. Together, they founded The Life You Can Save, where Charlie took on all organizational operations as executive director until 2024. He was supported in this work and in his financial support for the organization by his wife Diana, a family physician, and executed the role pro bono.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.