During 2014, I got into a movement called Effective Altruism, thanks to my roommate John. This movement, among other things, advocates for doing good via donating money, improving charities’ impact through evidence-based research and comparing charities’ efficiency through the data they publish.
It is a nascent movement, so detailed research and conclusions on many fields are still lacking. There is good data for things like global health and extreme poverty, but not much on improving human rights, education, internet freedom, prison reform and other areas that are of interest to me.
I decided to donate 5% of my income this year, up from $200 last year.
The charities I will be donating to are:
I wanted to distribute my charity between different areas, while keeping in mind there are many other causes I support, that I will get to in future years. This is a bit more info on why I chose these ones:
Mercy for Animals
They are responsible for most undercover videos taken at factory farms. It is incredibly cool that I can legally donate money for people to do that. That is no accident – MFA has successfully fought every single state law prohibiting the filming in factory farms. Check out this badass video of their 2013 year in review.
BRAC focuses on education efforts for girls in third world countries, including sexual and reproductive health education, vocational training and general life skills. They also took the trouble to figure out if their programs have any positive effects, and published fairly impressive results
Future of Humanity Institute
While the previous two charities are working on improving the world right now, FHI is focusing on figuring out problems that will affect humanity in the future, hopefully making progress on them before they become an immediate emergency. Their recent publication of a book about the dangers of superintelligent AI actually managed to get all kinds of people and companies to stop and consider the effects of technologies they’re working on. More generally, they’re working on killing Moloch dead.
Both Planned Parenthood and ACLU receive vast amounts of donations compared to the above charities. I don’t think that my donation would have a large marginal effect on the amount of good these two organizations do. Instead, I donated to them so that they can have one more name in their list of donors. My friend Elizabeth told me that since these two organizations do lobbying, it is useful to them to be able to say “x many people in your constituency donated to this cause this year”.