Social Income is an initiative in solidarity that aims to connect people across the world through small, impactful, and sustainable donations.

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01  What is Social Income?

02  Why Social Income? 

03  How does it work?

04  Timeline

05  Who benefits?

06  FAQ

07  Transparency

08  About us

Social Income is a non-profit association based in: 

Zurich, Switzerland
UID: CHE-289.611.695 (founded 2019)

The Hague, Netherlands
Founding in progress 

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︎ Data Protection


Here’s how and why Social Income works. Feel free to get in touch to learn more, or send us your own questions you think should be featured on the site.

What is the difference between Social Income and Universal Basic Income?

Like Basic Universal Income (UBI), Social Income provides regular, unconditional payments as a basic living stipend delivered to citizens on an individual basis. Whereas Universal Basic Income would be provided by a state or government, Social Income is provided from person to person. This means it doesn’t have to rely on political will, budgeting, or taxation to succeed. Social Income is also specifically aimed at people living in extreme poverty, so its primary goal is wealth redistribution—which isn’t necessarily the case of UBI.

Is it helpful to send money to people in need? 

It’s definitely more helpful than sending no money at all.

Are direct cash payments an effective way to fight poverty?

There are many examples of the benefits and long-term success of direct giving programs. Rutger Bregman’s book Utopia for Realists gives a good overview of some of these, including Give Directly, a non-profit association that has spurred a lasting rise in incomes (+38%), a widespread boost in home ownership and livestock possession (+58%), and sharply decreasing numbers of hungry children (-42%) in a rural part of western Kenya through direct giving. Efforts like these have been complemented by free income experiments by the Ugandan government, who have reported 50% income increases from participants and a 60% increase in their chances of getting hired.
Sources: Give Directly , Uganda

Why 1% of contributors’ salaries?

For Social Income to be scalable, we need to be sure it works. To ensure it works, we need to start small. This means using both a small pool of initial recipients and asking for a small initial donation from contributors. 1% is a negligible amount for contributors that can have a considerable impact on recipients’ lives, though higher donations may be possible in the future.

For example, say 30% of Swiss citizens support Social Income. Given that the average salary in Switzerland is $6,000 per month, if this 30% contributed 1% of their incomes, that would pay for Social Income for every person living in Sierra Leone. This simplified illustration can still give us a good idea of the project’s potential.

Can Social Income create equality?

Social Income isn’t a theory of equality. It’s here to help make the world more fair, by taking advantage of the immense gap between rich and poor to carry out a simple, direct redistribution based on solidarity. It also helps contribute to self-driven change and a certain degree of financial independence for people in need.

This process only works as long as inequality continues to exist; as soon as the distribution of wealth across the world becomes balanced, Social Income will no longer be useful.

Who can eliminate inequality?

States can, in theory. But not all states care for their citizens adequately and create equality. In fact, markets are partly to blame for the current unfair distribution of wealth around the world.

That’s where a third option comes in: ourselves. We already know how to recognize inequality and feel empathy for disadvantaged people, even if they aren’t exactly our neighbors. And we also have the technical skills to move money globally. So nothing is missing to remedy the world’s grievances.

Do we have responsibilities toward our fellow human beings?

We believe so, yes. In a globalized world with almost no borders for goods and outsourced production, all histories become interconnected in shared destinies.

What is this project’s link to the arts?

Social Income’s founding team has close links to the art world, which made it possible to fund the initial stages of the project.
Learn more about our financial transparency here.

Why Sierra Leone?

You have to start somewhere, and Sierra Leone makes sense for several reasons. While one of the world’s younger democracies, it unfortunately regularly tops rankings as one of its poorest countries. Still, big progress has been made in recent years, notably in adopting mobile banking in urban areas across the country. So, not only is Sierra Leone in need of help, it’s also uniquely positioned to receive it from a digitally-focused approach.

That said, Social Income isn’t just made for Africa. We believe that individual action can have a universal impact and hope to expand the project’s reach to people in need across the world. In the future, the initiative could also be rolled out to countries in Latin America and Asia, for example. However, to focus our energy as best as possible, it makes sense to gain experience in a single location first.

Can solidarity survive in the age of individualization?

Today, solidarity is an endangered resource. In an era that emphasizes the individual over everything else, our sense of community often takes a backseat to personal success. But this doesn’t mean that solidarity will disappear; it just has to adapt, and so do the projects that rely on it to meet their goals. From this perspective, we believe that solidarity can be stronger than ever.

Individualization also means that everyone who wants to get involved in solidarity can do so, without any roadblocks to stop them. The only difference is that they’ll do it on their own terms, with their own methods. Social Income is one choice available among others. A new kind.

The major issues that humanity faces, whether economic or ecological, are too complex and interlinked to be solved without recourse to solidarity. Individualism may be a fine road to personal self-discovery, but it isn’t of much use in solving collective challenges like inequality and extreme poverty.

If you think anything is missing from this FAQ, send us your own questions you think should be featured.