Charitable giving can be hugely impactful — if you’re careful about where you donate.

One of the simplest ways to have an impact with your career is to donate a portion of your income.

But if you’re going to do that, where you donate can make a huge difference. Within a cause area, the best charities could be 10 times better than typical charities, and hundreds of times better than poorly performing charities.

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650 million people — 8% of the world’s population — live in extreme poverty. That’s surviving on less than $2.15 a day (in 2017 prices).

Meanwhile, if you earn over $25,000 a year in the US, you’re probably in the richest ~10% of the world’s population.

You can send money directly to the world’s poorest people with minimal overhead via GiveDirectly.

And that’s just a start. GiveWell estimates that through donating to its top charities (focused on extremely cost-effective, evidence-backed public health interventions), your donation will go 5–10 times further than a direct cash transfer.1

And we’d guess that if you target donations towards effective organisations tackling the world’s most pressing problems, you can do even more good.

So, this giving season, we’ve updated our guide to picking where to donate: How to choose where to donate.

Personally, I haven’t yet decided where I’ll be donating this year. I’ve been impressed with lots of the work I’ve seen from Rethink Priorities. The Animal Welfare Fund might represent a fantastic donation opportunity. Most likely though, I’ll donate to a donor lottery.

You can see some discussion of different people’s donation plans on the effective giving forum.

Finally, if you think that you could increase the impact of your career through donating, why not take the Giving What We Can pledge?2 Over 8,000 people (including me and many other members of the 80,000 Hours team) have taken the pledge to give at least 10% of what they earn to whichever organisations can use it most effectively.

So why not think about making your new year’s resolution one that will really change the lives of others? Take the Giving What We Can pledge. It only takes a few minutes!

Giving What We Can has a YouTube channel with videos encouraging people to give, including topics like:

If you’re not sure how donating would affect your life, Giving What We Can also has a series of interviews with people who give effectively! You can also try taking the pledge for one year to see how it goes.

Learn more

Notes and references

  1. Open Philanthropy — 80,000 Hours’ biggest funder — was spun out of GiveWell, and the two share some leadership; for more information, see here.

  2. Giving What We Can and EA Funds (which runs the Animal Welfare Fund) are, like 80,000 Hours, projects of the Effective Ventures group — the umbrella term for Effective Ventures Foundation and Centre for Effective Altruism USA Inc, which are two separate legal entities that work together.