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People on Reddit are asking for charity recommendations in specific cause areas. Here are some examples:

I have a pretty hard time suggesting an effective charity to these people and often just ask them to consider that donations to the most impactful charity might be 100x more impactful than the average charity. I figure that my comments are better than nothing but could be a lot more impactful if I knew a charity within that person's cause area.

Any suggestions?

Anyone have a list of charities organized by cause area? Even though diabetics and elephants might not be on the list, it could come in handy in case someone asks for a charity on that list.

Some additional context is I created a Reddit bot to find Redditors asking for advice on altruistic careers or best charities, so I can try to steer people towards effective resources (like GiveWell and 80,000 Hours).

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I have no actual suggestions but some meta-ones.

Need for quant evaluations outside the top/most transparent

I don't think there is a strong base of rigorous evaluations of 'which non-top (or multi-intervention) charities are closer to being impactful' and 'what is a good range of estimated impacts for these. [1] I think this would be a good thing to have for the most part. I was hoping SoGive or ImpactMatters could fill this niche, but it hasn't happened.

E.g., I think there are people that might never give to AMF but might be convinced to give to Oxfam or MSF instead of Save the Children or St. Judes Hospital. What would be the value of this... is it worth our effort? We don't know.

Engage but push back a bit, and get them thinking about being quantitative

As you say, elephants/trans rights/US diabetics are likely to be orders of magnitude less impactful per $. Is it still worth your time to engage? Maybe, if you can do so in a way that...

  • Gets these people thinking about measuring impact,
  • and expanded moral circles,
  • makes them explicitly note they are playing favorites, and likely to be neglecting something much more effective.

... You can say 'here is the argument for donating to a GiveWell charity' (or an ACE charity, etc.), but I understand you have particular reasons to want to support elephants. (And maybe say a little more about this, engage them in a discussion.)

This may not get them to donate to AMF, or even UNICEF now, but it may shift their thinking going forward.


  1. Or 'which do better at harder-to-measure outcomes' ... with credible quantified measures and uncertainty. ↩︎

Thanks. This is helpful.

I think you're right about engaging them. I could ask them a modified version of the trolley problem like, "would you rather save 10 lives that aren't trans / diabetic / an elephant versus 1 life that is trans / diabetic / an elephant"? Then share a link to an article about how some charities are 10 or 100 times as effective as others, and another article about how cheap it is to save human or animal lives.

I've been concerned that my response would come across abrasive if I try to bring up being effective, but I think responding to ... (read more)

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Have you considered not spending time on those questions if you expect you can't find any good answers? Your time is probably valuable; perhaps you can better spend it elsewhere.

Btw, I just want to flag that this

Some additional context is I created a Reddit bot to find Redditors asking for advice on altruistic careers or best charities, so I can try to steer people towards effective resources (like GiveWell and 80,000 Hours).

comes off (to me at least) as a little bit coercive. To be clear, I'm not saying you're actually coercing people, just that the text gives that vibe. I guess it's the difference between letting people know these are possibilities and trying to convince them they should do this or that. Anyway, the project of trying to find and help people asking about donations seems cool!

>Have you considered not spending time on those questions if you expect you can't find any good answers?

I'm not spending much time on them. I have to sort through the less-easy-to-answer questions in order to find the more-easy-to-answer ones. I am spending time on the overall project, but you would make a false assumption if you extrapolate these to all of the other questions I'm seeing. I'm posting about these specifically because they are less easy to answer. The easy-to-answer questions I'm not asking for advice on because I can already generate a good answer.

Is the overall project work worth the time? It's hard for any of us to answer that question about our work. I am currently trying to collect some data on how much my responses have changed people's minds, but it takes work to find that out.

>this... comes off... as a little bit coercive.

There's always a balance between being pushy and not saying enough when giving advice. It feels appropriate that I'm giving people advice on topics which they've asked for advice on. I wrote "steer... towards" which is something you might associate with a manager or captain who is directing people. Perhaps the words, "let them know" would have been more apt. What I'm doing is more giving information than making the decision for people.

I am spending time on the overall project, but you would make a false assumption if you extrapolate these to all of the other questions I'm seeing. I'm posting about these specifically because they are less easy to answer.

I meant considering not spending time on those particular questions, i.e. the ones that seemed especially hard to answer. Like I said, the overall project sounds useful (but obviously hard for me to evaluate given the limited information I have).

Ok, got it. Yeah these particular questions I may have to ignore if I can't come up with better answers.

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