Fistula Foundation Wins Top Prize in The Life You Can Save’s Public Contest

Women from the DRC sit on a bench awaiting fistula surgery.

Peter Singer—the Princeton ethicist and father of the Effective Altruism movement—won the 2021 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, which came with a $1 million cash prize. Last year, Peter announced that he would give $100,000 of the prize money away to charities recommended by The Life You Can Save, the organization that he cofounded to help donors maximize the impact of their giving. Peter decided to base the selection of winning charities on a public vote: The charity with the most votes would receive $50,000, the second-place charity $30,000, and the third-place charity $20,000. 


With your support, we won the top prize! And thanks to Peter’s generosity, we will receive funds that enable us to improve access to treatment for some of the world’s most vulnerable women. 


The contest put us in competition with well-known nonprofits such as GiveDirectly, Seva Foundation, and more. It’s an honor simply to be on the list, alongside so many high-impact charities. But to win this contest presents us with a humbling opportunity.


Most people don’t know about fistula, or how it affects women in Africa and Asia. Similarly, Fistula Foundation is not a household name. But thanks to the advocacy of Peter Singer and his colleagues at The Life You Can Save, our organization has gained a higher profile. Year after year, The Life You Can Save brings numerous people into our community of supporters. We’re grateful for its continued belief in the effectiveness and necessity of Fistula Foundation.


Looking ahead, we view an expansion of the Fistula Foundation Treatment Network—our countrywide treatment model—into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the perfect way to invest the $50,000 prize. Political upheaval, sexual violence, and poor infrastructure all play a role in the DRC’s high incidence of fistula. The demand for care is far greater than what our partners can currently provide. This investment will be a lifeline for women waiting for treatment, and for the surgeon heroes who work day and night to heal them.

Two healthcare staff walk out of a hospital in the dark.
Dr. Justin Paluku Lussy and Nurse Jean-Marie of our partner HEAL Africa leave the hospital at nightfall.


We’re inspired by your vote of confidence in the work that we do, and looking forward to tackling this new challenge. Thank you for showing up in force to support our mission—not just in dollars but also in votes. With you by our side, anything is possible.


Published on February 16, 2022

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