I wanted to write a post about my charity policy, because it’s very strict, and I wanted to explain why it’s so strict.
Like every reasonable transhumanist, and like every reasonable Jew, I think human life is precious. When I go to the supermarket, I try to get the most bang for my bank. I think I owe the goal of saving human life no less consideration than I owe to getting a bag of pretzels. Money I give to charity is no longer mine — I am its custodian, and in charge of spending it responsibly.
I take the assumption that most people do not have my strict policy — they will spread their money to any charity that seems to catch their eye at that moment. Therefore, on average, charities will roughly get the same amount every year, and so my donation is not likely to significantly change their inner workings.
Given all those assumptions, the only moral thing I can do is to research the charity which I think can do the most good in the world, and concentrate all my donations on it. Sadly, it is not easy to estimate which charities do the most good. GiveWell, for example, ranks VillageReach as the top charity to give money to. However, I think they are being too conservative with their risk estimation, and after significant research, I chose to concentrate on Against Malaria Foundation which I think has better expected lives-saved/dollar spent.
All humans are created equal. Therefore, the best charity is the one that saves the most lives (on average) per dollar spent. So my policy is the following:
If a friend of mine is raising money for charity, and it looks like a worthy cause, one that I would give money to — I will give the same amount of money to the AMF, unless I see amazingly good evidence why the cause my friend is raising for is better.
Does that sound cold to you? It sounds cold to me too. But I cannot lie to myself — giving money to charity is not about feeling good, it’s about saving the world. I do other things to feel good, so that I can give to charity optimally.
You know what? This isn’t about your feelings. A human life, with all its joys and all its pains, adding up over the course of decades, is worth far more than your brain’s feelings of comfort or discomfort with a plan.