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Effective altruism

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Effective altruism (formerly known as optimal philanthropy) is the approach of donating to charity in a way calculated to do the most good.

The best estimates of cost-effectiveness (quantified in terms of, e.g., how many dollars it takes to save an additional life) tend to differ across charities by orders of magnitude. Making such estimates requires analyzing not just whether charities waste overhead money in achieving their goals, but whether their goals themselves do much to improve people's lives.

Compared to the total amount of money given to charity, effective altruism is rare. However, in recent years, the approach has been growing in popularity. Organizations such as GiveWell and Giving What We Can have been doing research in order to recommend optimal charities.

Often, the best rated charities involve health measures in the Third World or animal welfare. The large number of present and future lives threatened by existential risks gives attempts to reduce such risks a potential claim to even greater cost-effectiveness.

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