Giving what I can: who am I donating to?

This January, I pledged that I’d start donating at least 5% of my annual income to organisations that make the world a better place. I gave myself a few months to sort out my finances, and to research where exactly I’d be donating, with April being my deadline for setting everything up.

After research on both effective giving and into specific causes and organisations, I’ve decided that I will be supporting six organisations with regular donations, leaving a small amount of my donations total for more flexible or ad-hoc donations. Yay!

So I wanted to give a bit of detail about two of the questions I’ve been considering since January:

  1. Which organisations will I be donating to?
  2. What is my justification for my choice – for both individual organisations and more generally my approach to giving.

Continue reading “Giving what I can: who am I donating to?”

Giving more: my goal for 2017

For a few years I’ve followed the work of Peter Singer and others who promote Effective Altruism – the idea that we have a moral obligation to give resources to good causes, and that we must do so in the most effective way possible (not just based on organisations with the best marketing or personal resonance). I may have some critiques of it, but overall it’s a concept I strongly agree with. In the past I’ve never been in a position to do much practical about this, but no longer! It’s time for me to put theory into practice.

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The Most Good You Can Do? – Part 2

In Part One of my blog post on Singer’s “The Most Good You Can Do”, I outlined the main components of “effective altruism” and discussed my criticism that it does not sufficiently address wider political and structural questions that surround development interventions.

In this second and concluding part, I will discuss two more concerns I have with the approach: a narrow definition of “good”, and the limited situations that one can apply the effective altruism approach.

Continue reading “The Most Good You Can Do? – Part 2”

The Most Good You Can Do? – Part 1

The media makes many of us despair, with stories of war, suffering, climate catastrophe and everything else going wrong. Simultaneously, more and more people are asking the question – how can I help? How can I do good? This two-part blog post explores one answer to these questions: the idea of “effective altruism”.

“What can I do?” is a question that is always on my mind, prompted by (among other things) my time studying ethics in my philosophy degree. One of the most consistently referenced people during my time studying was Peter Singer. His writing on utilitarianism, and its applications to (among many other things) animal rights and overseas aid, were core texts we used to debate and develop our ideas. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation examining arguments he makes in Practical Ethics, Famine, Affluence and Morality and The Lives of Animals. Today I’m re-visiting his writing, having just finished his latest book.

Since the early 2000s Singer has increased his focus on the logical outcome of his “drowning child” thought experiment (in one sentence: if you can do good, without sacrificing anything morally comparable, you have an obligation to do so). The Life You Can Save, published in 2009, discussed the practical implications of this: the moral obligation to give a significant proportion of your income to charity. But not just any charity – one that is effective, and does the most good. Cue: The Most Good You Can Do, an exploration of what has become known as “effective altruism”.

Continue reading “The Most Good You Can Do? – Part 1”