And the entire sum was donated via GiveWell, an organization that researches charities to determine which are the most efficient at saving and improving lives.
Here's why I chose this particular donation strategy—and why you should, too.
As it turns out, a lot of charities suck. Maybe even most. They're either inefficient, ineffective, lack transparency or have unintended consequences like damaging the local economy. (See examples here and here.) Some are actually worse than doing nothing at all. For instance, the "Scared Straight" program, which takes kids on tours of prisons to discourage criminal behavior, was found to increase delinquency compared to doing nothing. Even the practices of big-name charities like Kiva, Smile Train and UNICEF have raised concerns.
But for most people, none of that's really on the radar. They pick a charity based purely on how it resonates with them emotionally. They may see an ad featuring a starving child with sad puppy-dog eyes, skim a few anecdotal endorsements and start reaching for their pocketbook. All without doing any research. Sure, their hearts are in the right place, but isn't it more important to ensure that we're actually helping people? It's okay to let our emotions drive our generosity, but we need to let reason steer us toward options that will do the most good.
- Offer strong evidence of positive impact
- Are extremely cost-effective
- Will use added funding productively, without diminishing returns
- Are highly transparent and accountable