- John Maxwell
- Santa Clara, CA
- United States
How can we get philanthropists to try harder to optimize the effectiveness of their giving?
You can see described in this article
an argument for "efficient" charitable giving--that is, charitable giving that attempts to optimize the effectiveness per dollar donated in terms of metrics like number of lives saved. But if you look at "largest charity" lists, you can see that much of charitable giving is directed towards organizations like the YMCA that don't directly work to save anyone's lives. I don't mean to dis the YMCA--I'm sure they're doing important and useful work, and anyone who volunteers there or donates to them is surely more virtuous than average. However, I don't quite understand why someone might give a thousand dollars to the YMCA when a thousand dollars has been shown by external observers to predictably save one West African life:
(And that's not even mentioning other charities, like http://singinst.org/, which are working to solve problems that could potentially lead to the extinction of the entire species.)
So what's going on here? How can we get philanthropists to realize that their giving is inefficient, and that they could get a better return on their dollar if they thought about it?