Donate Better

Make your donated dollars go further.

Everyone who has the means to donate some of their money to a good cause should do so. But how should you decide which cause to donate to? There are so many options that it’s hard to know which is most deserving of your donated dollars. Many people have a personal connection to a particular cause they want to contribute to, but otherwise how should you choose?

I recommend checking out GiveWell. The fine folks at GiveWell research which charities save or improve the lives of the most people per donated dollar. In fact, they spend 20,000 hours every year doing this research—way more time than any of us would spend researching charities on our own.

Their research process is also very comprehensive:

Pretty impressive, right? I think so. Their research shows that the maximum positive impact you have can have is to donate to provide medicine and nets to prevent malaria. Malaria kills more than 400,000 people annually, and most of these are tragically children under 5 in Africa. They estimate that it costs $3,000-$5,000 to save a life.

There are many other causes on their list, but they make effective donating even easier by allowing you to donate to their Maximum Impact Fund. By doing so, you give the power to GiveWell to decide where to apply your donation so that it has the biggest possible impact.

Another thing I like about GiveWell is their transparency. The list all the mistakes they’ve made on their website, including steps they’ve taken to improve. For the Maximum Impact Fund, they also give you information on exactly where they’ve directed funds to-date.

For those of us in Canada who would like to receive a Canadian tax receipt for our donations, you can check out the RC Forward platform.

Another site I recommend you check out is Giving What We Can. They also have a list of funds they recommend donating to (GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund is one of them), and one of my favourite features is that you can take a pledge to donate at least 10% of your income from now on. Publicly taking this pledge is a great way to hold yourself accountable to giving, and allows you to join a large community of people who are doing the same.

Giving What We Can currently has more than 5,500 members who have donated more than $207,853,862, and have pledged to donate $2,123,303,907 over their lifetimes. So good.