Friday, February 26, 2016

My Giving Game results

In my Effective Altruism class this past week I've run a "giving game", getting the students, in small groups, to discuss & decide where to donate £100 of my money.  It was quite interesting.

One potential downside of requiring the decisions to be made by consensus in small groups (of three or four students each) was that this ended up creating a bit of a bias towards conservative / "safe" choices from GiveWell's top charities, rather than more speculative (but potentially high upside) options about which there were disagreements within the group.  For example, one group had members initially supporting animal welfare, climate change mitigation, and criminal justice reform, but since they couldn't resolve these disagreements in the hour allotted for discussion and debate, they ended up agreeing to fund a deworming charity instead.  Another student favoured existential risk reduction, but again could not reach consensus on this within their group.

If I do this again in future years, I might try to think of an alternative way of implementing the giving game to allow the students a bit more free reign. E.g., one option would be to give each student £50 (or whatever) that they can allocate individually, or perhaps with the additional requirement that they must find / convince at least one other student in the class to share their choice of charity (to encourage argument and discussion).  Discussion could then proceed in small groups of rotating membership (rather than having fixed groups as we did this year).  Something I'll think about, anyway.

As for the verdicts, following my students' directions, I have just donated:
* £200 to the Against Malaria Foundation,
* £200 to GiveDirectly,
* £100 to each of SCI and Deworm the World,
* £100 to Project Healthy Children,
* £100 to Cool Earth,
* £100 to Animal Equality, and
* £100 to Basic Needs (an international mental health charity).

Most of these donations got a further 25% boost from UK Gift Aid; for UK taxpayers, donating via the GWWC Trust is very helpful in this respect!

What charities do you consider most effective?  Comments / suggestions welcome!  (I'm quite partial to meta-charities, myself...)


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