Promoting effective giving is one of our recommended causes working on advocating for effective altruism. This page is a summary of our soon to be released research.
Most of us care about doing good. When we see suffering and injustice, we feel compelled to act. Quite often, however, it's not obvious what we should do, or how we should do it.
Where we choose to donate is just one example of this problem. If we care deeply about reducing suffering for the hundreds of millions of people facing global poverty, what should we do about this? There are so many organisations working on this issue, it can feel overwhelming to decide who is most worthy of your charitable donations.
Effective altruism (EA) provides an answer to this difficult problem: we should use high-quality evidence and critical reasoning to find the best ways to help others.
Let's imagine that we want to reduce the suffering caused by HIV/AIDS. Where should we put our money, if we want to help as much as possible? There are a number of organisations working in this space, with many possible interventions to choose from. To illustrate why it's important to support the most effective organisations, see the figure below. This graph ranks HIV/AIDS interventions on the number of healthy life years saved, measured in disability-adjusted life-years, per $1,000 donated. As seen by the graph, some interventions are much more cost-effective in producing good outcomes. For example, education for high-risk groups performs 1,400 times better than surgical treatment for Kaposi's Sarcoma, a common intervention in wealthy countries. We should focus our efforts on the most cost-effective intervention in order to have the greatest impact in reducing HIV/AIDS-related suffering.
This is just one example of the difficult choice we're faced with whenever we want to donate to charitable organisations. Without evidence-backed research and analysis, it's extremely challenging for individuals to confidently understand what are the best ways to address the world's most pressing problems.
To tackle this, organisations are promoting effective giving — through charity evaluation and research — to encourage people to donate to organisations that are capable of doing the most good.
There are different kinds of organisations that promote effective giving. It's important to note that many do a mixture of the activities below, but are particularly good examples for certain activities:
- Charity evaluators use high-quality evidence, reasoning, and rigorous analysis to produce recommendations on the most effective charities to donate to.
- Examples: GiveWell, Animal Charity Evaluators, Giving Green
- Grantmakers identify effective giving opportunities and support them by distributing funds
- Examples: Founders Pledge, EA Funds, Open Philanthropy
- These organisations encourage more people to give to highly-effective charities to maximise the potential impact their donations can have. These can be targeted to a specific community of people, such as athletes, or more broadly to the general public.
- Examples: Giving What We Can or High Impact Athletes
- Other projects promote effective giving by utilising matched-funding opportunities or empowering donors with tax-efficient donation opportunities.
- Examples: EA Giving Tuesday, RC Forward, Rethink Charity
In general, we can think of promoting effective giving as having two key components:
- Identifying effective giving opportunities, as done by grantmakers and charity evaluators.
- Fundraising and advocacy for these giving opportunities, as done by fundraising organisations, effective giving infrastructure and charity evaluators.
You can donate to the following charities using Effective Altruism Funds:
- Animal Charity Evaluators
- Center on Long-Term Risk
- Charity Entrepreneurship
- Forethought Foundation
- Giving What We Can
- Happier Lives Institute
- Rethink Priorities
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