Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Birthday Gifts - GiveWell

It's my birthday tomorrow, and if any readers are feeling in a generous mood, please consider donating a little something to GiveWell [through Facebook causes -- recommended to help promote philanthropic social norms -- or directly]. As I previously wrote of meta-charities: "rather than trying to directly help the less fortunate, we would do better to serve as a 'catalyst' that boosts the effectiveness of others' giving."

You can learn more about GiveWell's approach at their (always interesting) blog, now linked from my blogroll.

Update: $200 raised -- thanks all!


  1. In my experience the person who asks others to put money in the hat for charity rarely puts his own money into the hat. What he will often do is take some of the money out of hat to pay for expenses.

  2. Bernardz - while random accusations of bad faith are always . . . appreciated . . . it's pretty hard to make sense of your comment in this context.

    Your cynicism might be obliquely targeting either (1) me or (2) GiveWell. Neither survives a moment's scrutiny.

    If (1): You can see on the Facebook causes page that I've donated to this charity myself. And since I'm not affiliated with GiveWell in any way, I obviously don't have access to the "hat" when others donate.

    If (2): You don't seem to understand that we (meta-charity supporters) want our donations to go towards GiveWell's "operating expenses". Speaking for myself, at least, I think that the research and analysis that GiveWell provides is really valuable, which is precisely why I chose it as my favoured charity. Obviously if you don't think that the work they do is independently valuable, then you won't want to financially support it. But it's just bizarre to caution people who want to support GiveWell's work that some of their money might end up going towards covering GiveWell's operating expenses. That's the whole freaking point!

    [For the record, the GiveWell donation page explicitly gives donors the option to choose whether their donation may be used for "operating expenses", or whether it should be passed along in full as grants to their top-rated charities. As explained on their process page, even the latter option helps GiveWell's work by giving target charities an incentive to cooperate with GiveWell's research (document requests, etc.). But again, anyone who really values their work will want to help cover their operating expenses.]

  3. Richard, you must have the patience of Job. Sheesh...

  4. Ha, well, blogging affords plenty of opportunities for practice... :-)

  5. Isn't that the truth! I hope you had a good birthday.


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