Giving Smartly and Effective Altruism

Giving to charity is always a noble cause. However, exactly what you contribute to plays an immense factor in the efficacy of your donation. A few months ago, Peter Singer gave a presentation concerning how one’s donation can be most effectively used:


In terms of creating the largest possible benefit with your donation, giving to some charities or organisations can be much more effective than others.

Singer provides a good example. Donating to a guide dog training centre is certainly a good thing to do. It helps the incurably blind live their lives comfortably. The cost of training a guide dog, according to Singer, is roughly 40,000USD in the United States. However, it only costs 20-50USD to treat trachoma in developing countries, a preventable form of blindness.

This effectively means that for the same price as training a guide dog, you could cure or prevent anywhere from 800 to 2000 cases of trachoma.

As another example, for roughly 20USD, you can give a lifesaving baby kit for refugee mothers on the Thai/Burmese border. So, for the price of one guide dog, you could improve – and indeed save – the lives of up to 2000 newborn children. This is an ongoing project at RIJ, check it out here:


Giving to a good cause is always a noble thing to do. To provide the largest possible benefit though, it pays to select a cause that is far reaching in who it benefits.

RIJ, for its part, bears this in mind when choosing which projects to fund. Self-sustainable community projects are a high priority, as they have a long lasting, positive effect that helps entire communities.

So when you choose to give to a cause, bear in mind that where you give your money can create a much bigger difference by choosing not only a noble cause, but a far reaching one.


William Mawhinney



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