Don’t Be Fooled On Giving Tuesday: Give Wisely!



Caption: Facepalm by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (AJ Cann, Flickr)


Written by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, Intentional Insights Co-Founder and President


___________________________________________________________________



Giving Tuesday on November 29th is the biggest day of donations in the year. Yet how do you give wisely on Giving Tuesday?


There are millions of charities out there. Some charities are hundreds of times better than others at doing good by addressing suffering and increasing flourishing around the world.





So what does that mean for your donations? Well, every time you donate, you make a choice of how much good you want to do with your money. By making a donation, you are using your money to produce a certain amount of “good” in the world. By donating to a less effective charity, you are doing less good. This concept is known as opportunity cost in economics.



Don’t believe me? Let’s work through a specific example. Say you have two charities whose goal is to save children’s lives. Charity A spends $20 million per year to save 100 children from cancer. It therefore saves 1 life at a cost of $200,000. Let’s take a second charity - Charity B - that saves children from a deadly tropical disease, such as Against Malaria Foundation. Research shows that it takes this charity just under $3,000 to save a life, which means that for $20 million, it can save over 6600 children! By using the metric of cost-effectiveness in saving lives, we can see that Against Malaria Foundation is 66 times as good as Charity A. Cost-effectiveness is the crucial metric to use in evaluating how much good we can do with our money, since that’s how we can measure the amount of good per dollar.


Let’s look at another example. Make-A-Wish foundation helps terminally ill children fulfill one grand wish. For instance, it can take a child to Disneyland to be a princess for a day, or help the child be a police officer or fighter pilot for a day, or another grand wish. Make-A-Wish has great stories that draw at people’s heartstrings, and move them to donate over $300 million per year to this organization. Make-A-Wish spends over $10,000 on one wish, and the outcome, in terms of good done, is a child and the child’s family having one day of joy.



By comparison, GiveDirectly does direct cash transfers of $1,000 to poor people in East Africa. For that amount of money, a family with several children transforms its life. It can build a house and buy crops. Its children can go to school. They are healthier, physically and mentally. According to rigorous research, the recipients of these cash transfers have substantially better lives. Giving money to GiveDirectly results in much more joy being created in the world than giving to Make-A-Wish. Yet many more people donate to Make-A-Wish, because they fall for the narrative fallacy, our tendency to like and believe in something just because it has a good story associated with it - of addressing the wishes of terminally ill children - as opposed to achieving our actual goals of making the most difference for doing good in the world.


So how can you give wisely this Giving Tuesday to do the most good that you can per dollar? Fortunately, there are high-quality nonprofit charity evaluators that serve as consumer report organizations to help donors choose the most cost-effective charities.


The Life You Can Save uses a rigorous selection methodology to recommend a number of charities oriented toward poverty reduction. It has an impact calculator to help donors see the specific impact of their giving. GiveWell provides in-depth research reports on top charities focused on reducing poverty. Both The Life You Can Save and GiveWell give high marks to GiveDirectly and Against Malaria Foundation. Another charity evaluator, Animal Charity Evaluators, gives recommendations on the most effective charities to prevent animal suffering. It has recommended The Humane League, Mercy For Animals, and Animal Equality, and you can see its current top picks here. Giving What We Can unites a community of people dedicated to giving 10 percent or more of their money to effective charities. Finally, Intentional Insights provides articles, videos, and other content to help you make wise decisions about your donations.

By relying on these organizations, you can make sure you will give wisely this Giving Tuesday!



______________________________________________________________________



Please DONATE if you found this article helpful. Intentional Insights is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and we are able to create our content only thanks to the generous support of readers like you (your donations are tax-deductible). We also invite you to volunteer and buy our merchandise. To avoid missing out on content that help you reach your goals, subscribe to the Intentional Insights monthly newsletter and RSS feed. Thank you!

Recent Posts 10

Here’s Why Your Gut Instinct Is Wrong At Work – And How To Know W

Here’s Why Your Gut Instinct Is Wrong At Work – And How To Know When It Isn’t

March 20, 2017

Avoid bad decisions by learning when to trust your gut!

How Behavioral Science Can Help Truth Triumph Over Baseless Accus

How Behavioral Science Can Help Truth Triumph Over Baseless Accusations

March 17, 2017

Current media narratives promote "alternative facts" - learn how to prevent this problem in this article.

Want To Make Smarter Decisions? It’s All About Framing

Want To Make Smarter Decisions? It’s All About Framing

March 13, 2017

Don't make bad decisions, especially about your money!

The Science of Effective Fundraising: Four Common Mistakes to Avo

The Science of Effective Fundraising: Four Common Mistakes to Avoid

March 6, 2017

Psychology research casts light on the most effective fundraising strategies

Towards a Post-Lies Future

Towards a Post-Lies Future

February 26, 2017

How do we combat alternative facts and post-truth politics?

Collaborative Truth-Seeking

Collaborative Truth-Seeking

February 20, 2017

How do we collaborate with others to figure out the truth?

Preserving Our Democracy on Valentine's Day

Preserving Our Democracy on Valentine's Day

February 14, 2017

Help your partner have great mental and physical health while improving our society on Valentine's Day!

The Science of Solving Alternative Facts

The Science of Solving Alternative Facts

February 7, 2017

How can we use science-based approaches to address lies in politics?

How I Learned to Truly Love Animals

How I Learned to Truly Love Animals

January 31, 2017

Do you love animals? Can't miss this post!

What Would Gandhi Do About Trump? High-Time For a Science Of Wisd

What Would Gandhi Do About Trump? High-Time For a Science Of Wisdom

January 23, 2017

The science of wisdom provides answers for dealing with difficult times.