It’s pretty straightforward: donate to wherever your money can do the most good at the moment. If this month it’s Org A then you donate to Org A, and if next month it’s Org B then you should switch
The problem for me is how do I know which organization is doing the most good in a cause area? And how do I keep tabs on that?
For global health, GiveWell provides all of that, so I defer to them by donating to their discretionary fund every month.
With criminal justice reform and x-risk, the seemingly best deferral option is Open Phil—which is why I mentioned them. They have a grant database for each cause, but I don’t know how to decide which of the orgs they funded would do the most good based off of my small, marginal donation each month.
For example, let’s say I want to donate $100 this month to bio-risk. I look at their grant database (as of this writing) and see 1DaySooner as their most recent grant in 5/2020 for $500k. Does this mean that my $100 would do the most good there, if I were to donate right now? If I look at their largest grant, which is John Hopkins Center for Health Security for $19.5M in 9/2019, would my dollar do the most good there instead vs. 1DaySooner?
Open Phil suggests organizations for individual donors, but they only do that once a year. I’d expect the top organization that is doing the most good in a cause area would change pretty often within a year, but I could be wrong about that.
CEA has a recommendation list for criminal justice reform? I can’t seem to find it on their website.
I agree with you everything you said regarding EAs focusing on the cause areas that are going to do the most good, and for those organizations to carry the burden of evidence / proof so that we are enabled to reduce the most suffering per dollar.
That being said, I’m unconvinced that EAs should be donating any money to charities focussing on systemic racial injustice right now.
I’m not trying to convince others that this is a top priority cause area. It’s definitely not and wouldn’t encourage people to donate if their singular goal is to do the most good in the world.
I have more than one goal here, however. My goal is to find out how I can do the most good in this cause area. I don’t want people to stop donating to x-risk, global health, or farm animal welfare. I’m still donating to GiveWell charities and those take up a majority of my donations still.
I feel that to start with the cause area and work backwards is akin to doing an experiment to prove a result, rather than to find one.
As GiveWell points out, that’s difficult to accomplish, even with their own top charities. I agree that we should continue donating to places that have shown the evidence. Yet, we can’t expect the same GiveWell-like evidence in other cause areas, whether it’s an EA cause or not. That’s why they started Open Philanthropy.
I don’t think that you or anyone else should donate any money to a charity based on felt compassion or intuition
I’m not the type of person to be a perfect utilitarian robot, nor do I want to be. If I were, then I wouldn’t have donated money to my best friend’s father’s funeral which they couldn’t afford.
Peter Singer says in his famous TED talk that EA combines both the head and the heart.
My heart is in global health and poverty, as a someone whose parents and family grew up poor in a third-world country and suffer from chronic disease because of it. My head tells me to donate to GiveWell charities.
My heart is also in criminal justice reform, as a POC whose had family members and friends incarcerated and faced similar injustices. My head wants to find the most effective donation I can make.
I’m new to EA and this was a great reminder. I’ve had this on-and-off internal conflict of donating to EA vs non-EA cause areas. From a personal finance framing, I have EA donations as one line item and “Random Acts of Kindness” as another line item in my monthly budget (e.g. ranging from paying for a friend’s meal to donating to non-EA cause area such as criminal justice reform).
Side note: What was your decision-making process for choosing to donate to Campaign Zero? I’m trying assess where my donations would have the most impact. I’m hesitant to donate to them compared to other organizations that Open Phil has vetted through their criminal justice reform grants, as well as their recent letter to interested donors as a result of the protests.
As a person still new to EA, it was disheartening to see the downvotes. You can see in my post history that I rely on this community to be educated and engaged on EA, including how I can apply it to my life.
After I saw the downvotes, it gave me the perception of exclusivity in this community. I’m glad I was made aware that there was a duplicate question, which I apologize for missing. Yet, I’m a little apprehensive now of posting anything that doesn’t seem to fit the bucket of EA cause areas.
The purpose of my post wasn’t to give more attention to a non-EA cause. I want to apply the principles and concepts of EA so that I and others can make an informed, confident decision on how our dollars can make the greatest amount of impact in this specific cause area.
If this community is only receptive and knowledgeable of EA cause areas, such that discussions around non-EA causes won’t provide meaningful value, then please tell me so that I can engage in a different community.
I wanted to share this document which Chloe Cockburn, the person who runs strategy on criminal justice reform at Open Phil, posted this in response to donors asking for advice.
Thanks for sharing Campaign Zero! Reading about their organization, it feels similar or analogous to donating to an EA longtermist organization. It’s great that they are data-informed and backed by research on their strategic initiatives. Yet, as I feel with any longtermist organization (EA or not), I have a hard time donating money without knowing the amount of impact it could have. This is why I just donate to GiveWell and other global health charities right now.
It sounds like you might have a comparative advantage in health tech though that would enable you to do a lot of good working for a health tech organization that produces technology that benefits the global poor
Yeah, that’s another option I can build career capital for. Most of the health tech jobs in the market is towards US healthcare problems, which is what my experience is in. A goal, one day, would be to work for or start a global health non-profit leveraging technology to scale a validated health intervention (e.g tech-enabled AMF).
But to build that career capital, I don’t think I need to work in healthcare my entire career. It’d probably be better to build that capital across a breadth of industries. That’s an assumption though and need to network with others to confirm that.
Those are really good points! The hardest thing about this is trying to simplify it without losing them in the details/statistics/numbers—but also not oversimplifying it that people don’t believe you or are skeptical.
What’s interesting is if the $2300 to save a life would resonate with the average person. I know when I first read about this, I didn’t think much of it. But then when I saw it in comparison to the $50k guide dog for blind person in the US, that really drove home the point for me.
Raising for Effective Giving targets the poker industry. The co-founders are poker players themselves and found that players embody the ‘E’ in EA. They propose that this audience tends to be more rational and logic than the general population. Their initial outreach strategy was to target players who have a pre-existing altruistic tendency, and get them to donate to more effective charities.
Not sure if that constitutes as data for your purposes, but they are an example of how they’ve targeted an audience that has seen some success in converting to EA.
But you could try to first suggest what the best donation opportunities that are COVID/pandemic-related are, and then point out in a very non-pushy way how other things may be especially neglected right now, and thus especially valuable to donate to. Sort of like an intellectual point that they can take or leave, with you having first accepted and respected their starting point of interest in COVID specifically.
That’s sounds like a good approach. I’m the only EA I know of so just spreading the ideas / principles that resonates with my peers is difficult.
As someone still fairly new to EA myself, I’m considered longtermism but haven’t done enough time investment to change my donation strategy as I prioritize direct interventions for global health.
Let me know how the fundraiser goes! I am going to wait until I hear something from GiveWell, but will definitely look into CHS.
GiveDirectly has provided more information about their response. It looks like they’ll expand beyond the US. If it does, how would that change your categorization? It’d probably depend on the country (e.g. sub-saharan Africa vs. Italy vs. China).
We also plan to respond internationally, and are finalizing those details. Will share shortly.