Effective altruism

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Many people donate to charity, but rarely do donors ask themselves where their contributions could do the most good. Attempts at optimal philanthropy are the exception.

But when effectiveness is quantified in terms of, e.g., how many dollars it takes to save an additional life, the best estimates tend to differ across charities by orders of magnitude. It turns out to be important to analyze not just whether charities waste overhead money in achieving their goals, but whether their goals themselves do much to improve people's lives.

The approach has grown in popularity in recent years. Organizations such as GiveWell and Giving What We Can have been using cost-effectiveness estimates to recommend the best charities.

Often, the best rated charities involve health measures in the Third World. Reduction of existential risks has a potential claim to even greater cost-effectiveness, because of the large number of present and future lives threatened by such risks.

Blog posts

External links

See also