How can we do the most good?

Around 2015, I discovered the very inspiring ideas promoted by the effective altruism community. As summarised here:

“Effective altruism is about answering one simple question: how can we use our resources to help others the most? Rather than just doing what feels right, we use evidence and careful analysis to find the very best causes to work on. But it’s no use answering the question unless you act on it. Effective altruism is about following through. It’s about being generous with your time and your money to do the most good you can.”

Effective altruists focus their efforts, for example, on optimal ways to fight extreme poverty, improve the long-term future, and reduce animal suffering. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend this great introduction. I also published an interview with Will MacAskill, one of effective altruism’s key figures, on Five Books.

Since 2015, I have donated regularly to effective causes recommended by GiveWell and the Effective Altruism Funds. In 2018, I took the Giving What We Can Pledge, making a commitment to give at least 10% of my income to the organisations that can do the most good with it.

“I recognise that I can use part of my income to do a significant amount of good. Since I can live well enough on a smaller income, I pledge that for the rest of my life or until the day I retire, I shall give at least ten percent of what I earn to whichever organisations can most effectively use it to improve the lives of others, now and in the years to come. I make this pledge freely, openly, and sincerely.” —The Giving What We Can Pledge

Written on June 4, 2020