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Brainstorm: What questions will the general public find most interesting about charities and causes?

by lukefreeman1 min read2nd Mar 202111 comments

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Giving What We Can is in the process of developing more resources for lay audiences.

I'd love to see what ideas you all have for topics that would be interesting for a lay audience and we could have an effective altruism/effective giving spin on it.

Add each new idea as a comment and upvote your favourites. We'll then conduct a follow up study and let you know which were the most popular (see preliminary results – the participant is asked to pick 1 from three so 33% is the benchmark).

To get your creative juices flowing, we've done some initial research and so far these are the top 20 questions from the ideas our team generated:

Do charitable donations actually reach the intended recipients?
How much money actually goes to charities?
Is aid useless due to corruption in the governments who receive it?
Does charity and aid really work?
Does donating to charity just subsidise billionaires?
Does hard work determine someone’s economic success?
Is economic growth going to lift people out of poverty on its own?
Does charity begin at home? Should we solve our own problems first?
Does the money already spent on foreign aid have any effect?
Are charities with the lowest overhead costs most effective?
Can global poverty be solved?
Should we donate based on charity effectiveness?
What are the worst charities?
What are good reasons not to give to charity?
Is there a significant difference between different charities’ impact?
How should we decide which charities to donate to?
Do farmed animals live lives worth living?
Are problems so large that my donations are too small to make a difference?
Should international poverty relief be the responsibility of governments not individuals?
Is it better to save for ourselves and our families than to give to help strangers?

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Something on whether charity perpetuates systemic inequality or fails to change the broken system? There might be a range of leftist/social justice critiques worth addressing. 

Maybe related is that when we talk about charity we are implicitly talking about aid, but there are also charities that could advocate for policy interventions etc. So something to separate aid from other kinds of charity work could be useful, although I don't know if that's a question so much as a clarification. 

1lukefreeman8moYeah, we're going to separate these into categories that help separate that and try to clarify in the response to the questions that not all charities are doing direct aid. We had a conversation about this in a discussion the other day that something like the overhead myth is more understandable if you're thinking about giving people stuff (e.g. donating food).

Absolutely, I hear this all the time. Here's some anecdotal advice:

In particular, there's a strong thread in my circles that privileged people need to give up their power (for example, this was recently posted in the math Discord server at my left-leaning university), and philanthropy allows privileged people to hold onto power while feeling good about themselves. Social justice folks and EAs agree that everyone is complicit in injustice, and we should each take life-changing steps to help. The difference is that EAs claim that throwing away one's power is... (read more)

3AGB8moYour comment reminded me of this post, whose ideas I like as a starting point for handling this type of question: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/DYr7kBpMpmbygBiEq/the-privilege-of-earning-to-give [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/DYr7kBpMpmbygBiEq/the-privilege-of-earning-to-give]
1tae7moNice, thanks for sharing!

This might be outside of Giving What We Can's target audiences, but I'd love to see more tailored effective giving and EA career advice content for people from middle-income countries. It is probably best written by someone from a middle-income country like me, but I'm not sure if I have the time or willingness to do so currently, so I'll just lay out the idea here. We get questions like this a lot in our discussions/meetups at EA Philippines:

  • I'm from a middle-income country. Shouldn't I donate locally than abroad?

The question could also be expanded to low income countries:

  • "I'm from a low / middle income country. Shouldn't I donate locally than abroad?"

Thanks!  We've got some of this as part of the "Charity begins at home" myth that we're working on. Just tagged you on the Google Doc 😀  

Why should I donate to international poverty relief when these people would just have more kids (contributing to overpopulation) and not do anything good in the world? Shouldn't I donate to scholarship funds for local college students instead, since they're more likely to make a difference?

(I suspect this is a common line of reasoning among well-off educated white people in wealthy countries who think people in third-world countries are selfish and unambitious, but won't say that outright.)

[Not a suggestion for a post] Have you also looked at the number of searchers each of these questions gets + number of media write up etc? Might be useful to do to see what is likely to get engagement.

Yep! That's how I selected some of my initial list (things like answerthepublic.com, google trends, search estimator, SEMrush and Quora helped in the initial research). Will check the new ones that are suggested too.