I’m telling you this for prayer,

My friend Luke and I have been arguing over how Effective Altruists should give this Holiday Season. Can you help us out?




Dear Matthew,

Effective altruism is a philosophical movement around doing the most good with each dollar. I am sure there are some good organisations for you to give to. 

A huge problem in the world is global poverty. Money you give to the developing world goes perhaps 30x further than the same donations in the West. If you imagine a poor couple, perhaps a pregnant mother unable to afford somewhere to live, we can trust them to use money on things they really need. Cash would let them pay for rooms and board, when their other options might be unstable. I might recommend GiveDirectly.

Of course, now that we’ve talked about stables, animal welfare is even more neglected. Innkeepers might claim to deliver high welfare standards, but even there, animals live in far less idyllic scenes than we imagine. They are cramped, dark with no hope of a good future. Billions of animals suffer awful conditions every year and even small changes might make their lives a lot better. So perhaps I’d recommend the Humane League.

But we can go a step further on neglectedness - existential risks! Nuclear war, pandemics and AI. These things might change or ruin all our lives, and hardly any focus is given to them. So I would recommend you engage in some long term planning. Get your wise friends together, pool your gold, use your gifts and see where the ideas take you. It’s hard to think well about the future, but someday we’ll find a spokesperson with some star power. Let me know and donate to the Long Term Future Fund.

It’s not just about donation opportunities though - we can increase the donation pool. There are big multipliers to be had in community building. Rather than you doing all this work directly you can share your knowledge. Whether they are social outcasts or choristers from powerful institutions, if you harp on enough, I’m sure people will flock to your message. Have you heard of the EA Infrastructure Fund?

Hold up. I’ve come up with a thought. You mentioned you’d chatted with a wealthy donor, one Herod the Great. I think you said he was worried about the birth of a being that would fundamentally disempower him. The AI folks are struggling for places to hold conferences and I hear he’s got a lot of resources (maybe crypto?). You could get him more involved - what’s the worst that could happen? 

Whatever you do, do it joyfully. You can make a difference to the world. Thanks for caring!




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