Frequently Asked Question

How do I choose among these charities and funds?


We think funds are the best option for most donors, and have created our new Giving What We Can cause area funds to make it easy for donors who are having trouble deciding between the various top-rated options. These funds make it easy to support high-impact donation opportunities within a particular cause area(s) without having to stay up to date with the latest recommendations. Your donation is allocated based on the latest research by our research team, which includes consulting with the evaluators and grantmakers they think are best suited to maximise impact.

Of course, some donors will prefer to either choose the fund of a specific evaluator or grantmaker that they feel particularly aligns with their priorities, or they might feel most comfortable donating to individual charities (in which case, they can read more about each of our recommendations and decide which ones best align with their values). Interested donors can also check out our team’s reports on the charity evaluators and grantmakers whose work we’ve reviewed.

In any of these cases, the first step to deciding which charities or funds to support is to determine which cause area(s) best align with your values. To help you decide, let’s consider what you might get with a $5,000 donation to a charity or fund working in each cause area. (Note that these are just examples of the type of work you might fund; the actual outcome will vary depending on where you donate.)

If you donate $5,000 to a charity/fund working on global health and wellbeing, this could:

If you donate $5,000 to a charity/fund working on improving farmed animal welfare through corporate campaigns, this could:

  • Improve the lives of at least 50,000 chickens through furthering cage-free commitments from industry. This is based on an estimate by the charity evaluator Founders Pledge (using data from 2016, 2018, and 2019) showing that for every $1 donated to highly effective corporate campaign work (such as the type engaged in by The Humane League) the living conditions of 10–160 chickens are significantly improved. We’ve taken the lower end of that range given the estimates are a couple of years old and early campaigns were particularly cost-effective.

If you donate $5,000 to a charity/fund working on reducing global catastrophic risks, this could:

  • Fund about a week of research into problems like AI alignment, nuclear security, or biosecurity. For instance, you could help fund improved safety checks of AI systems before they are released to the general public, or support the search for effective policy interventions to mitigate nuclear risk. A week of research in these areas could be hugely impactful — perhaps the researcher stumbles upon a breakthrough or uncovers a key concept — or it might not be impactful at all. But the more funding for this type of research, the greater the odds of finding and implementing solutions to some of the biggest threats to humanity’s future.

So what are the takeaways here? The cause(s) you support depend on a variety of value judgements, and you might want to think about factors like:

  • Your comfort level with uncertainty vs. how much you value concrete outcomes
  • The weight you place on the number of lives affected
  • How you value human lives compared to nonhuman animal lives
  • How concerned you are about suffering right now versus in the future

These are difficult factors to think through. If you’re having trouble deciding, you’re not alone. Many people in our community have told us that decision paralysis about where to give initially prevented them from giving at all. If that’s you, we recommend simply splitting your donation among these high-impact cause areas via our All Causes bundle (either equally or with your preferred allocation). You can also choose to donate to individual funds or charities within each cause area, if you prefer.

Overall, just remember that sometimes the goal of maximising (searching for the best possible action) can prevent us from taking action at all, and if we take no action, we’re really not maximising! The bottom line is that all of these cause areas are highly impactful and no matter which one(s) you choose to support, you’ll be doing a lot of good.

Still have questions?

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