It’s that wonderful time of year again – the time I have to rush out a blog post about effective holiday giving before heading off for the Christmas break.

Here’s our article on how to find the best charity to give to.

In short we now recommend giving to the Effective Altruism Funds – this allows you to delegate the decision to world experts who research the most effective places to give full time. It’s fast and really hard to do better.

Alternatively, if you’d like to try something new, check out donor lotteries. They’re a great innovation for small to medium sized donors, though take a minute to fully understand.

If you want to do your own research, my holiday giving guide from last year is still a good starting point, as are the recent posts by the researchers at GiveWell and the Open Philanthropy on where they’re giving.

A possible new year’s resolution

Thinking longer term, this is the time of year that many people take the Giving What We Can pledge to donate 10% of their income to the most impactful organisations than can find. Last year 318 people did so over the holidays, and Giving What We Can is running a pledge drive again this year.

Donating 10% is one of the more straightforward ways you can have more social impact. We’ve written up the case for taking it. For a lot of our readers it offers the chance to greatly improve or save many lives – or do even more good some other way – at little personal cost and without reorienting their career.

That said, there are some groups who probably shouldn’t take it:

  1. People who aren’t confident they want to stick with it. If you’re excited to take the pledge but only just found out about it, set a reminder to check back later to make sure your desire to join is stable, especially if you’re young.
  2. People who might find themselves doing work that’s much more directly useful than it is lucrative. If you’re a volunteer doctor in a war-torn country, or advisor to the Prime Minister, the pledge may be more a distraction than a help.
  3. People who might need the money to make ends meet for themselves or their family.

Nonetheless, I’ve taken the pledge and think it’s a good option for many. So look it over and think about whether it’s right for you! If you aren’t fully ready to commit you can take it for one year and see how it goes.

Merry Christmas, season’s greetings and/or happy holidays.