I have decided to donate a percentage of my salary every month to highly effective charities through GiveWell's Top Charities Fund. I'd like you to donate as well, but of course the choice is yours.
It takes very little time to make a donation that can save lives: you can do it right now.
I think we are all privileged to have more money than we really need, and we have a great opportunity to use it to do real good.
If you do decide to donate, please let me know so I can feel warm and fuzzy.
And remember, if you can get other people to donate, you effectively multiply the impact of your own donation. It's an amazingly good deal.
Here's how I changed my mind to become someone who actually wants to donate my money to charity.
I realised that even though I don't have as much money as I'd like, I still have more than I actually need.
Global inequalities mean that I can use some of my money to create an outsized positive impact in the world. It's about 180x cheaper for an effective charity to save a life from malaria in Africa than it is for the marginal NHS intervention in the UK.
Saving a life far away is just as real as saving a life with my own hands, even if it doesn't feel that way. It's just as real to save a child from malaria for a few thousand dollars as it is to save a child drowning in a pond in the park. That was a simple but moving realisation for me. Peter Singer made this point convincingly in his essay Famine, Affluence, and Morality back in 1972.
Organisations like GiveWell have found that some charities are significantly more effective than others. Most charities don't have good evidence for being effective at all, but some are particularly good. These outstanding charities are targeted by GiveWell's Top Charities Fund.
I can do the most good with my donations by giving to these particularly effective charities.
So by donating a relatively small amount of money (that I don't really need anyway) I can achieve something out of the ordinary.
Trying to do the most good possible is the aim of the Effective Altruism project, which you can find more about below. There are many excellent resources, and an active and inspiring community, but the short story is: an excellent action you can take right now is to set up a monthly donation to the Top Charities Fund, and encourage other people to do so as well. It's a great feeling.
An illustration of people dancing outside that I generated using Midjourney AI