The Impact Pledge

The Impact Pledge

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There often comes a time in many people’s lives when they have achieved success, made a great deal of money and they now feel that they want to ‘give back’ to society and to those less fortunate than themselves. But I wonder about the efficacy of philanthropy in general – whereby trusts and foundations are established and billions are divided up and given away in small, or even large, sums. I wonder if there is another way.

One of my favourite entrepreneurs, Ricardo Semler, uses the phrase ‘if you are giving back, you have taken too much.’

What if there is a way of giving that is as exciting and creative as setting up a successful business was; as making your money was; as climbing the career ladder was? What if you felt your blood pumping and the adrenalin rush of putting your energy and money into directly and actively making a difference in the world by solving a huge problem that affects billions of people?

For me, it is not good enough to be giving back at some point in the future, or as an afterthought to my day job. I want to tell you about ‘the impact pledge,’ and how it can change the world.

As described by Peter Diamandis, the Impact Pledge is:

‘‘Specifically, a pledge where philanthropists actually pledge to solve (i.e. eradicate, eliminate, exterminate) a specific problem, rather than just agree to give their money to philanthropy.”

The days of feel-good patronage to ‘good causes’ could even prove unnecessary, if wealthy or skilled people would devote their time and money to directly solving global problems like hunger, sustainability, poverty, addiction or disease.

In March 2013, I first visited Singularity University – which was founded by Peter Diamandis, who initiated the Impact Pledge. What it did for me was 3 things. It gave me an understanding that:  

  1. Every problem in the world is now becoming solvable.
  2. The people who are solving the world’s biggest problems are human beings, just like me.
  3. Like every human being, I have a unique set of experiences that could help me to see problems and create solutions – in a different way to anyone else.

From that experience, I took the impact pledge and have, ever since, dedicated my life to solving some of the major problems in the world.

I don’t have enough money to retire, or even live beyond next year. What I do have is a desire to make a difference to my community and to the world beyond. That’s what I am devoted to.

A particular passion of mine at the moment is ensuring that people are thriving – not simply surviving. I have a personal investment in making the world a better place. As a father of a four year old boy (with another one on the way), I have one important wish for my kids. In fact, it is the wish that most parents want for their children. Above all, I wish my boys to be happy and healthy.

I don’t wish them all the money and success in the world. I don’t wish them the best exam results. I wish for them to be happy and healthy. What else matters?

And here is the big issue. In the West, very few people are actually thriving. Most people are working harder and harder to stand still. And to make matters worse, 1 in 4 people have a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their lives. My children have a very significant chance of not being happy and healthy. How does giving them a nest egg or getting them the best exam results compare with the real issue?

It doesn’t need to be this way. There are all sorts of solutions to this issue available. The problem isn’t that the solutions don’t exist; the problem is making those solutions operable at scale.

Most solutions are not happening because of government bureaucracy, societal fear, corporate interest and a lack of awareness.

The Dandelion Project was founded to enable a small island nation to take on the toughest problems in the world – as a model for others. Amongst several issues we are addressing are happiness and health.

To this end, on October 17th, we are holding an event called Thrive2020. This event is taking place to inspire a population to solve one of the most challenging and prevalent problems in the world; a problem that prevents the achievement of that first, vital wish every parent has for their child. Until that problem is solved, no parent can be assured that their child will be happy and healthy and thrive.

It is possible for us all to learn how to be collectively happy. It is possible to heal the pain and fear that lie behind things like anxiety and depression. It is possible for people to move away from the inner struggle of the day-to-day. That’s why I work on it.

So my question to you is: if you could solve that significant problem you see in the world, would you solve it?

Well the truth is, you can. So take the impact pledge and start doing it.

To impact.


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  1. Excellent!

  2. Thank you Marc. As a mother of two young children I relate to your message and often feel torn between how to ensure my children are happy, not just in the future but right now. I love your enthusiasm and confidence that we can all make a difference right now and your inspiring leadership with Thrive2020. I am holding a Holistic Health Practitioner Networking event in my community tomorrow night and I have invited them all to consider making an Impact Pledge so that we can support each other to achieve our goals. Thanks again for your inspiration!!

  3. Lyn Nelson says

    Well said!!

  4. I made my pledge and started doing it!

    Check #55Alive and we can cure one of the biggest a problems in our society.

    Making an impact is simpler than many people think!

  5. Very very interested in this. And about to be based in Guernsey again. Having come from Kenya I have a slightly different view point, but would be very interested to look at the issues that are common and ways to achieve a healthy way forward for all communities. Will be in touch soon. Sam

  6. It is so very true and especially in these times where people are beginning to question the word ‘happiness’ and what that truly represents.
    True happiness comes from within and this is where we must look for all answers and ‘solutions’.

  7. As a mental health professional I am all too aware of the limits of modern medicine. Whilst our success rates in psychiatry are as good as, and often better than, other branches of medicine, we are a very young field and have only an infantile grasp on the brain/mind/psyche/spirit – call it what you will! It is a huge challenge to keep up to date with the science and the clinical progress we are making, and yet we still have a one in 4 figure worldwide for mental illness.

    If one in 4 people got cancer or pneumonia can you imagine the world outcry?

    I fully support looking outside our silos for solutions and am, despite my evidence-based cynicism, I have become inspired by the Dandelion project.

    My only note of caution Marc is ensuring we have quality evidence to back up what we are doing. This mission is so important that we can’t risk being sucked into snake oil salesmen, or worse, stuff that is actually more harmful than the status quo.

    The Thrive2020 faculty looks incredible though, and I am open to being converted with the right evidence!

    The impact AND happiness!


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