Should I help now or later?

If you’re committed to making the biggest difference possible with your career, you may well find that there is a tension between doing good now and laying the groundwork for doing good later.

For example:

  • Next year, you have two choices. You could work for an effective charity, making an immediate difference to its beneficiaries. Or you could go to graduate school and build up your career capital, (hopefully) allowing you to have a larger impact later.


  • You have a substantial sum of money. You could give it today, or you could invest it, allow it to grow, and then give the larger amount later.

How can you go about deciding between these options? Here we present a summary of our findings – the full research has been published on the Global Priorities Project page.

The main factors

Which option is highest-impact varies from case to case. In general, the earlier you are in your career, the less stable your view of the best cause and the more well-established the cause, the more the balance shifts from doing good now towards doing good later.

Here’s a summary:

Now vs Later flowchart

We’ll further explain each factor below.

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