Promoting Effective Giving Using List-Style Articles

by Gleb_T 4y16th Dec 201526 comments


Wanted to get community feedback and optimization suggestions on promoting effective giving using list-style articles.


The purpose for list-style articles would be similar to other types of effective giving content, namely to lead people to shift their giving toward more effective charities from less effective ones. To be clear, it is not to get people to join the Effective Altruism movement, to avoid the danger of rapid movement growth (see this video and paper). It is also not to get people to go down the Earning To Give path, as most likely only a small portion of people should go down that road, and moreover the EA movement as such faces a higher talent gap than funding gap. Instead, the goal is to redirect some of the hundreds of billions spent per year on charitable giving toward effective causes.


Now, getting to why use list-style articles as such. On the one hand, most list-style articles pattern-match with shallow content, not something that EAs typically appreciate. On the other hand, list-style articles are one of the most widely read and shared types of content on the web, and there are specific strategies for doing high-quality list-style articles.


One concern is that these articles might be a turn-off for people who are oriented toward more high-brow content, and would not be inclined to learn about effective giving and especially effective altruism due to it being presented in a list-style article form. To address this concern, I think we should aim to avoid using the term "Effective Giving" and certainly "Effective Altruism" in the title of a list-style article. Thus, anyone just glancing at the headline would not be turned off by seeing this term in association with a list-style article. Only the people who click on the article and read it would learn about this term and the organizations associated with it. Since the readers of a list-style article are the ones who would enjoy list-style articles and not be put off by them, they would be highly unlikely to be negatively impacted by this type of article and the message of effective giving as conveyed by it, and instead would be impacted positively, on a weak to strong range.


To practice an experimental and data-gathering approach, I decided to try to publish a list-style article, and got this one, "8 Secrets of Savvy Donors," placed in The Huffington Post. It does not reference effective giving in the title, but talks about it in the body of the text. It is written in an engaging manner, has a clear narrative, conveys emotions, has a variety of images, and conveys a mixture of helpful ideas with promotion of EA organizations, such as Giving What We Can, GiveWell, and The Life You Can Save. It briefly mentions effective altruism as a movement, but does not specifically tie positive emotions with it, and suggests readers contact effective altruists for strategies on donating effectively. I suspect this is the first EA-written and EA-themed list-style article, but please correct me if I'm wrong - I know EAs made other broad-type content, such as memes, but not list-style articles.


Posted less than 48 hours ago, this article is spreading organically on social media with minimum publicity. I have not yet shared it with any EA groups, but it has already been shared more than 160 times on StumbleUpon, for example, as of the time of this writing (most articles published at the same time as this one on The Huffington Post Impact section, where this article was published, have less than 20 social shares). Social media shares provide significant evidence of reader enthusiasm for this article, since people are willing to put their personal social capital into sharing the article for their Facebook friends, Twitter followers, StumbleUpon followers etc. to read. Of course, social media sharing also has the additional benefit of many more people getting exposed to the content - a general rule of thumb is that for every social media share, 100 people read the article thoroughly, and many more skim it.


Another benefit of list-style articles is that they are well suited for fellow EAs to share on their social media. This is because EAs who are social media savvy know that this type of article will be more likely to be read by non-EAs in their social circle, and shared by other EAs. Thus, EAs can help spur social sharing of this type of article strategically, knowing the positive consequences of doing so.


A more broad medium-term goal would be to provide a depository of such articles that EAs can draw from and adapt to their local context. All of you should feel free to do so as well. Another medium-term goal is to have some EAs who specialize in marketing effective giving ideas for a broad audience. This should help address one area of talent gap in the current EA movement. For more on promoting effective giving from a systematic perspective, see this post.


Now, I'd appreciate your thoughts on this article. Does it work to convey the benefits of effective giving in an easy-to-read and engaging manner? Knowing about the benefits of sharing this type of article, would you share this article on your social media?


Also, would appreciate your thoughts on the meta issues, the strategy of using list-style articles as a way of spreading EA-style ideas about effective giving. Thanks!


P.S. This article is part of the EA Marketing Resource Bank project lead by Intentional Insights and the Local Effective Altruism Network, with support from The Life You Can Save.