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'Tis the season to feel bad about [charity]

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Posts

  • Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    So, pretty much this thread is telling people that if they don't support charities for developing nations they are badwrong.

    How about mind your own business. Charity is personal, and coming at people like this isn't going to change any minds. It certainly did not mine.

    Who's going at who exactly? I don't wholly agree with Loren but dude's kept it civil this whole time and definitely hasn't pried in to anyone's business.

    I guess we were reading different OPs then.

    "volunteering to partake doesn't put one above criticism"

    Unless your philanthropy is public, its no one else's business, so yeah it really does put you above criticism from the peanut gallery. As for determining whether someone else's giving is driven by ego or grounded in "ignorance" (a very loaded and crappy word choice since "ignorance" according to Loren is giving money to any cause that doesn't mathematically maximize the result of your contribution which is certainly a thing but "ignorance" is not the thing since it's falsely assuming that everyone else is interested in mathematically maximizing the result of their contribution and suggesting that if they aren't, they are committing some sort of moral offense).

    tldr;

    There's saying "here is how you can mathematically maximize the results of charitable giving" and then there's saying "If you don't, you're wrong."

    This thread is the latter, not the former.

  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    Edit: Never mind, not the thread topic.

    tldr;

    I disagree.

    Quid on
  • JurgJurg In a TeacupRegistered User regular
    If ego satisfaction begets more charitable giving (I would wager that it does), then is the total "good" from people giving to inefficient charities greater than the total good that would occur if people gave only to the most efficient charities? Someone run the numbers.

    Another question: who, outside of potential or current college students who don't know what they want to do yet, generically wants to help people, versus wants to see specific changes?

    If I am really invested in, say, seeing more women get into STEM fields, it better meets my desires to donate to an appropriate scholarship, than to give money for deworming programs. If I want the world to become a neoliberal hellhole, I should donate to ALEC, not the Red Cross, and so on.

    sig.gif
  • Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    Jurg wrote: »
    Another question: who, outside of potential or current college students who don't know what they want to do yet, generically wants to help people, versus wants to see specific changes?

    No one that I know of.

    Absolutely, check charities to make sure you're giving to one that actually does something beyond supporting a huge administrative overhead. But beyond that, shaming people for caring about the "wrong" things is goosey.

    CindersCaveman PawsDiannaoChong
  • MrMisterMrMister If you shoot an arrow, and it goes real high--hooray for youRegistered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    What if there was a charity whose mission statement was to increase the effectiveness of other charities

    That's somewhat Givewell's intent: rating charities so that people are able to give in more effective ways.

    The problem is that people get insulted when you tell them they maybe aren't getting the most bang for their buck.

    I think that people are getting insulted because your OP accused them of not caring about charity in the first sentence; then it called them ignorant and egotistical.

    I myself definitely agree with you that charities can be compared, and I also more or less agree with you about which ones come out on top. But I don't think you're doing yourself any favors with your framing of that message.

    JuliusJurgLoren MichaelFeral
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    The content of this thread is for people who already give to charities, not for people who are thinking about giving to charities. If you agree with the sentiment that you should know a thing or two about the charity you're donating to, then the OP has done its job.

    However, I'd argue that what remains not so black and white are the criteria we use to rate the effectiveness of charities. Sure, the Red Cross has drawn complaints of being overly focused on first world issues and racist and classist appropriation of aid, but it has a 70/70 accountability and transparency rating on charity navigator, which could perhaps explain why there is something to complain about.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
    Loren Michael
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    What if there was a charity whose mission statement was to increase the effectiveness of other charities

    That's somewhat Givewell's intent: rating charities so that people are able to give in more effective ways.

    The problem is that people get insulted when you tell them they maybe aren't getting the most bang for their buck.

    I think that people are getting insulted because your OP accused them of not caring about charity in the first sentence; then it called them ignorant and egotistical.

    I myself definitely agree with you that charities can be compared, and I also more or less agree with you about which ones come out on top. But I don't think you're doing yourself any favors with your framing of that message.

    Fair enough. I'll work on something more civil tomorrow.

    2ezikn6.jpg
    Feral
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Also a lot of us are guilty of giving way more to Kickstarter than any global charity

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    Also a lot of us are guilty of giving way more to Kickstarter than any global charity

    You're an asshole. Tomorrow I'll call you merely misguided with a valid argument connecting my previous statement with this one.

    Starbound is fucking awesome BTW.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    I don't see why we're fighting about appropriating resources between various 'good' goals (disease cure/prevention, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, etc) when there's plenty more that's donated towards completely terrible purposes, like those torture camps to "cure" gay teens, or ones that are completely useless and pointless like the one from my hometown that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail out thousands of copies of a movie about Jesus to every mailbox in the county to try to convert the six atheists in the area or something (this was rural georgia, so I'm not kidding about there maybe being six atheists).


    And if you really, really want to talk about getting more bang for your buck, funding birth control programs is the way to go.

  • Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    Also a lot of us are guilty of giving way more to Kickstarter than any global charity

    Well, that's not really a fair comparison.

    Kickstarter isn't a charity, per se. It's a kind of open source investment, or pre-purchase plan. I funded Star Citizen not because I was feeling charitable, but because of the promise I would get to play an amazing space sim.

    I donate to Childfund simply because I believe that complete socio-economic improvement for a nation starts with allowing children to get an education instead of having to help their families put food on the table.

    I purchase something with Kickstarter for my benefit.

    I donate to Childfund because of what I believe.

    So the complaint that people have 'donated' more to kickstarter is like complaining people spent more buying a home theater than donating to charity. It's apples and oranges. There's an argument to be made about selfishness, sure, but the two can't be directly compared in a meaningful way.

    Tube wrote: »
    No, I hate D&D more than the other subforums because it's more of a pain in my arse.
  • MrMisterMrMister If you shoot an arrow, and it goes real high--hooray for youRegistered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I don't see why we're fighting about appropriating resources between various 'good' goals (disease cure/prevention, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, etc) when there's plenty more that's donated towards completely terrible purposes, like those torture camps to "cure" gay teens, or ones that are completely useless and pointless like the one from my hometown that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail out thousands of copies of a movie about Jesus to every mailbox in the county to try to convert the six atheists in the area or something (this was rural georgia, so I'm not kidding about there maybe being six atheists).

    Presumably, no one here is giving money to conversion therapy, and we furthermore have much less influence over the people who do so give than we have over ourselves.

    Regina Fong
  • knitdanknitdan Turtle on its back In the desert seaRegistered User regular
    In my very limited charity budget, I mostly give to local charities, such as food banks, shelters, etc.

    If a charity is sending me mail asking for money they are spending too much on overhead for my liking.

    Why aren't you helping, Leon?
    DiannaoChong
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    I guess it depends on what your goal is with charity?

    I'd prefer to help people in my community, for the limited amount of giving I can do. 100% of the food I give to the local pantry is food that needy people will eat.

  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I don't see why we're fighting about appropriating resources between various 'good' goals (disease cure/prevention, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, etc) when there's plenty more that's donated towards completely terrible purposes, like those torture camps to "cure" gay teens, or ones that are completely useless and pointless like the one from my hometown that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail out thousands of copies of a movie about Jesus to every mailbox in the county to try to convert the six atheists in the area or something (this was rural georgia, so I'm not kidding about there maybe being six atheists).

    Presumably, no one here is giving money to conversion therapy, and we furthermore have much less influence over the people who do so give than we have over ourselves.

    So then why should we be getting mad at each other? There's much worse things out there we could be getting upset at than other people we agree with being slightly less efficient, for whatever definition of efficient we're using?

  • MrMisterMrMister If you shoot an arrow, and it goes real high--hooray for youRegistered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I don't see why we're fighting about appropriating resources between various 'good' goals (disease cure/prevention, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, etc) when there's plenty more that's donated towards completely terrible purposes, like those torture camps to "cure" gay teens, or ones that are completely useless and pointless like the one from my hometown that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail out thousands of copies of a movie about Jesus to every mailbox in the county to try to convert the six atheists in the area or something (this was rural georgia, so I'm not kidding about there maybe being six atheists).

    Presumably, no one here is giving money to conversion therapy, and we furthermore have much less influence over the people who do so give than we have over ourselves.

    So then why should we be getting mad at each other? There's much worse things out there we could be getting upset at than other people we agree with being slightly less efficient, for whatever definition of efficient we're using?

    I don't think we should be getting mad at each other--although we might get together and discuss which priorities are really most important. And even if what we're doing right now is pretty good, there's always room to try to figure out if it could be even better. I think the hostile OP gave the wrong impression; this conversation doesn't have to be about recrimination. It can just instead be about trying to figure out together why charity is important, and, if we have an answer to that, whether it tells us anything interesting about our giving habits and how we could improve them.

  • MillMill Registered User regular
    Always worth looking into what the charities, one donates to, spending activities and those of charities that they might consider donating to. As knitdan pointed out, if they are spending money to mail one fliers asking for money, then that's probably a charity not making good use of the money they get. I'd say the same for charities that pull Goodwill's shit, of hiring Americans with disabilities for below minimum wage, by exploiting a loophole in the law. Definitely would avoid giving to any charities that seem designed to be a loophole for rich people to get taxed less (aka they donate to a charity that a close friend or family member, is paid to run for a hefty salary). I'd also extend it to any charities that spend too much money on anyone they hire to either run them or be in a fundraising commercial for them. The long and short of this is, make sure your charities of choice make efficient use of donations and aren't a means for shitty people to further enrich themselves off of charity.

    Still on the fence about how much advertising they should do because many won't donate if they don't know of a charity's existence; however, there is such a thing as spending too much on advertising.

    Also problematic, if you run into charities that do make efficient use of donations to help those that are in need, but push for awful agendas. Part of me thinks, it's not wise to donate to them, since it helps legitimize their awful views and there are probably less awful charities that fill the same niche. On the other hand, I don't think it's worth shitting on people for donating to them, since it doesn't look good optics wise to the uninformed. I mean, by all means point out if an effective charity promotes shitty agendas and suggest less shitty charities as alternatives, just don't turn it into a pissing match.

    As for the why people donate to charity. Does it really matter? I could care less if someone's charitable donation is done out of ignorance (will assume the charity chosen is making effective use of the donation to help people in need), ego, good will, to pay less in taxes, something else or some combination of the previously listed reasons. Ideally, a charitable donation will help someone in need out. Now granted, I'm not opposed to SKFM's suggestion capping charitable donation write offs to something that the actual middle class might cap (not the fucking asinine definition the WSJ uses), but that is a discussion for another thread IMO.

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  • HonkHonk Honk is this poster. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2013
    I give to a charity that specifically gives research grants about a rare liver disease I have, that maybe affects like 200,000 people worldwide or something ridiculously low like that.

    It is effective, in the sense that the charity only uses 4% administratively. It is egotistically motivated, but my money is at least potentially helping a few people other than me so I think that's still a good thing.

    Honk on
    PSN: Honkalot
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I don't see why we're fighting about appropriating resources between various 'good' goals (disease cure/prevention, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, etc) when there's plenty more that's donated towards completely terrible purposes, like those torture camps to "cure" gay teens, or ones that are completely useless and pointless like the one from my hometown that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail out thousands of copies of a movie about Jesus to every mailbox in the county to try to convert the six atheists in the area or something (this was rural georgia, so I'm not kidding about there maybe being six atheists).

    Presumably, no one here is giving money to conversion therapy, and we furthermore have much less influence over the people who do so give than we have over ourselves.

    So then why should we be getting mad at each other? There's much worse things out there we could be getting upset at than other people we agree with being slightly less efficient, for whatever definition of efficient we're using?

    I don't think we should be getting mad at each other--although we might get together and discuss which priorities are really most important. And even if what we're doing right now is pretty good, there's always room to try to figure out if it could be even better. I think the hostile OP gave the wrong impression; this conversation doesn't have to be about recrimination. It can just instead be about trying to figure out together why charity is important, and, if we have an answer to that, whether it tells us anything interesting about our giving habits and how we could improve them.

    Indeed. While I don't completely agree with givewell for example I think they do have a few good points. One being that direct cash infusions to the very poor works really well in the non-health charity field. It's not that giving people other stuff is evil, but when the stated goal is to help people why not try the best one?

    The idea that we shouldn't discuss the goals and effectiveness of charity because there is evil in the world is nonsense. And it closely resembles the argument that you shouldn't give money to the poor in rich countries because there are way poorer people out there. And that argument was attacked not a page ago.

    Quid
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    MrMister wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    What if there was a charity whose mission statement was to increase the effectiveness of other charities

    That's somewhat Givewell's intent: rating charities so that people are able to give in more effective ways.

    The problem is that people get insulted when you tell them they maybe aren't getting the most bang for their buck.

    I think that people are getting insulted because your OP accused them of not caring about charity in the first sentence; then it called them ignorant and egotistical.

    I myself definitely agree with you that charities can be compared, and I also more or less agree with you about which ones come out on top. But I don't think you're doing yourself any favors with your framing of that message.

    Okay, well let's try again:

    There is a long list of things that people could do to improve the effectiveness of their charitable donations, but don't. Why don't we start discussing these things and start maybe doing them?


    Recently a secular liberal friend of mine posted a message on Facebook encouraging people to donate to the Salvation Army. Someone else brought up something about the Salvation Army's homophobic past and/or present and said maybe it was a bad idea to donate to them, and there was a mild Facebook scuffle.

    My own input was that it's probably a bad idea to give to most charities if your intent in giving is to make your donations particularly helpful. If you want to help someone you should want to do so effectively. There's a spectrum of "help" ranging from the completely self-serving photo op to sacrificing oneself for a cause, and most of us probably want to avoid either of those extremes. I tend to think that we really do want to do our best to help, but there are a lot of biases and misconceptions that get in our way.


    An example: buying canned goods to give to a food drive. This is strictly inferior to skipping the shopping trip and just giving the charity the cash directly. They know what they need, and they can buy it in bulk, and they don't need to inspect the donation to make sure it's okay, they don't need to sort unsorted cans. Feeding America notes that:

    A hastily-organized local food drive can actually put more strain on your local food bank than you imagine. Feeding America members maintain the highest standards of food safety, which means not every product is suitable for donation. Your local food bank will need to sort and inspect all donated items to ensure that they are absolutely safe.

    The best way to support hunger-relief in your community is by making a financial donation to your local food bank, and encouraging your friends to do the same. Your local Feeding America member can then utilize the buying power of the Feeding America network to acquire and ship healthy, nutritious food at deeply discounted rates. But if you do want to conduct a food drive, please only do so after reaching out to your local Feeding America member.


    There is a better way to help out at the level of personal involvement. It's less romantic perhaps to just fork over cash than to go shopping for the needy, but at least in this case the easier and less engaged method is the more effective one.


    There are also many, many charities out there, with many different approaches to helping people, some with overlap with others and others without. It's not easy to know what goes on with them, and there are a lot of scams out there that are geared toward taking advantage of peoples' kindness. There are also ones that simply don't do a good job relative to others at their stated goal. Fortunately, there are organizations that monitor and rate charities. My personal favorite is Givewell, but there are others as well.

    If our intent is to give away our money or time to help people out, I think it behooves us to do our best with our efforts; we don't want to cheat ourselves out of doing what we intend to do, and we really do want to improve the lot of people out there. Givewell and its ilk are one tool at our disposal for cutting through the BS that's out there, and getting our efforts through to the people who are in dire need of them.


    Finally, and maybe controversially, there's the notion of optimizing one's efforts. Consider the clear example of donating a new auditorium wing to an Ivy League school, and spending that same amount of money preventing malaria or diarrhea in places that are stricken with those problems. That's I think a relatively clear example of not doing as much good as one can. So long as one intends to maximize the good one does, that kind of situation is one that should be considered in one's moral calculus.

    There are also immediate concerns that, again so long as we're concerned with maximizing good, can take our eye off the ball. Consider the earthquake/tsunami tragedy and disaster that happened in Japan two years ago. According to Givewell, more aid was given than was requested, which suggests that it wasn't particularly helpful in addressing what the aid was sent there to do.

    There's also the notion of triage. Is a dollar spent on cancer research better or worse than a dollar to prevent diarrhea? Should some efforts be abandoned in favor of others that show more promise?


    How should we think about these things? Should we focus our efforts, or not? Can we do better and should we do better?

    Loren Michael on
    2ezikn6.jpg
    MrMister
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I don't see why we're fighting about appropriating resources between various 'good' goals (disease cure/prevention, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, etc) when there's plenty more that's donated towards completely terrible purposes, like those torture camps to "cure" gay teens, or ones that are completely useless and pointless like the one from my hometown that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail out thousands of copies of a movie about Jesus to every mailbox in the county to try to convert the six atheists in the area or something (this was rural georgia, so I'm not kidding about there maybe being six atheists).

    Presumably, no one here is giving money to conversion therapy, and we furthermore have much less influence over the people who do so give than we have over ourselves.

    So then why should we be getting mad at each other? There's much worse things out there we could be getting upset at than other people we agree with being slightly less efficient, for whatever definition of efficient we're using?

    I don't think we should be getting mad at each other--although we might get together and discuss which priorities are really most important. And even if what we're doing right now is pretty good, there's always room to try to figure out if it could be even better. I think the hostile OP gave the wrong impression; this conversation doesn't have to be about recrimination. It can just instead be about trying to figure out together why charity is important, and, if we have an answer to that, whether it tells us anything interesting about our giving habits and how we could improve them.

    Indeed. While I don't completely agree with givewell for example I think they do have a few good points. One being that direct cash infusions to the very poor works really well in the non-health charity field. It's not that giving people other stuff is evil, but when the stated goal is to help people why not try the best one?

    The idea that we shouldn't discuss the goals and effectiveness of charity because there is evil in the world is nonsense. And it closely resembles the argument that you shouldn't give money to the poor in rich countries because there are way poorer people out there. And that argument was attacked not a page ago.

    My problem with discussing a charity's effectiveness is that it is very subjective. A small, local charity may have high administrative costs, but that is an effect of having very low revenues. There is this unfair double standard put on charities where they are constantly demanded to provide more for their community while spending less money on their services, while people forget that the ones working for these NPOs have to eat too.

    It's why I dislike charity navigator so much, even though I recognize why it is important. People who are relatively uninformed about how NPOs operate can make a decision, but without the ability to parse that information correctly.

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  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    I don't think - in most cases - anyone has any business criticizing what charities other people donate to. Really, the only places for criticism I can see are the people who donate to 'charities' they have setup (usually with themselves / their spouse on the board with large salaries) to function as tax shelters or other ways to avoid taxes. Otherwise, even if the charity itself is a scam or far less effective than it could / should be, the individuals doing the donating have their hearts in the right place.

    The reason people donate is irrelevant as well. If they are donating to good causes for egotistical reasons, for tax reasons, or because they really want to help other people is irrelevant. Who has any business judging why other people are trying to help others?

    When talking about what 'causes' are more worthy, it's going to be very subjective. While immediate disaster relief is probably helping people a lot, right now, the 'ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' mantra is still true. There are many 'low hanging fruit' - like the mosquito nets - that contribute a great deal of good and alleviate a great deal of suffering in the long run. But, if people donate to a long-term cause like AIDS treatments, or cancer cures, that's every bit as worthy as donating to disaster relief charities with immediate / short term goals.

    A big part of the reason cancer is relatively survivable, and childhood cancer deaths have dropped ~80% in the past half-century - and cancers that had something like 25% survivability rates in 1980 are 95% survivable today - come from donations to children's cancer research. AIDS is far more survivable today, and medicine is available to far more victims than it was a decade or two ago. Now, in a long-term sense, spending your $100 donation on condoms and education for Africa would probably alleviate more net suffering in the long run, but either cause is worthy.

    If a person wants to contribute to their own community or solve 'first world problems', that's their prerogative as well. If I want to contribute to my local animal shelter or food bank, nobody has any business criticizing that. Pretty much everyone could be doing more or contributing more / better, but most people who try and shit all over good efforts are simply doing it to justify their own actions - which are usually turning a blind eye.

    MayabirdShadowfireRegina FongLostNinjaL Ron Howard
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    And again, if we're going down the 'ounce of prevention' route, it's birth control all the way. First world, third world, having too many children and/or too soon, and most of them unwanted and in danger of going down the same route as their parents. Even if all you do is delay a girl from getting pregnant from age 14 to 17, the kids born have a better chance in life from their mother's slightly greater maturity and education. And it's a lot easier to deal with problems with less people. Third world: Population in a tropical country grows from five million to thirty million? That's twenty five million more people needing food and mosquito nets. Reduce that growth to ten million? That's fifteen million less mosquito nets and hundreds of thousands of tons less food you need. Disaster strikes? Less people needing relief. Less environmental damage from people having to go out into the wilderness and cut it down for farms. First world: less children in poverty and all the problems that come from that, etc etc.

    If you really, really want to discuss being effective, this is where you should start. It's not sexy and people don't want to talk about it. That's fine. You can give your money to arts funding if you choose; there are a lot of good things that can be done and there need to be lots of different ways for people to be and support good. The person who cures diseases in children is important but so is the person who helps those kids have something to do in the afternoons so they don't just start getting stoned out of boredom. But it's ridiculous to get on people's cases for donating to cancer cures because mosquito nets are also needed. They are both good things. Get on their cases if money that supposed to go to cancer cures just go to Susan Komen's family but not if the money is going to where it's supposed to go.

  • ArchangleArchangle Registered User regular
    There is a long list of things that people could do to improve the effectiveness of their charitable donations, but don't. Why don't we start discussing these things and start maybe doing them?
    ...
    Finally, and maybe controversially, there's the notion of optimizing one's efforts.
    This is going to sound snarky (see related thread), but debating on the internet is generally regarded as one of the most wasteful uses of someone's time.

    Using one of the least effective mediums for persuading people in an effort to persuade people to be more effective in supporting charity seems rather ironic.

    Richy
  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    Archangle wrote: »
    There is a long list of things that people could do to improve the effectiveness of their charitable donations, but don't. Why don't we start discussing these things and start maybe doing them?
    ...
    Finally, and maybe controversially, there's the notion of optimizing one's efforts.
    This is going to sound snarky (see related thread), but debating on the internet is generally regarded as one of the most wasteful uses of someone's time.

    Using one of the least effective mediums for persuading people in an effort to persuade people to be more effective in supporting charity seems rather ironic.

    It's a debate and discourse thread. The whole point is to debate and discuss topics, so even if it's meaningless and masturbatory...well...that's kinda the whole point. I don't think anyone enters a thread on a forum expecting that they are going to change the world with a hundred or so words.

    Besides, I can't very well work at a soup kitchen or do something useful for charity while I'm at work. I can BS on a forum.

    Thor1590
  • DiannaoChongDiannaoChong Registered User regular
    I try to look into the charity I donate to. Any charity has paperwork with the govt to back it up as a non profit organization, and its pretty easy to look and see when 33 cents of your dollar donated goes into board members pockets. Also, childs play, while arguably isnt as helpful as feeding people, has an immaculate record and keeps like 5% for administration costs, which they say counts costs of shipping physical toys they receive (which is crazy if the numbers are right)

    I think you have at least a small responsibility when it comes to charity and making sure your help goes where it should. On the flip side we had a can handed around at work last year for a charity related to someones church, said it was to help unwed mothers. Turns out the charity from the non profit paperwork said that something like 70% of money donated went into 2 peoples pockets, and the charity just printed anti abortion leaflets and the like to throw at people. It was in her wheelhouse of beliefs but how do you bring up something like that, that is just purely a scam and tax shelter for her church members and I think officials?

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  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    And how do you determine that it is always more cost-effective to spend money in 'X' developing country? Is it more cost-effective to donate towards building a school or hospital in Mosambique than in Connecticut?

    In general, money goes further where exchange rates and labor costs are favorable. I'm surprised this is a point of contention.

    redx wrote: »
    a) unless fundamental structural changes occur in Africa, money spent is not likely to have a long term lasting effect beyond addressing the immediate concerns of recipients.
    b) helping some portion of Africa's children is unlikely to result in those changes, as enough of them are reaching adulthood to sustain the nations' populations.
    c) as technological developments build upon each other, new science and technologies will likely have a greater effect over the long term(hundreds of years)
    d) building a few new science labs, paying for people who would not otherwise to be able to afford science educations could result in greater returns(though it is less likely)

    Sure, building a school someplace where it is immediately going to be bombed is a waste of money.

    However, not every country in Africa (nor every developing country) is war-torn.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    And again, if we're going down the 'ounce of prevention' route, it's birth control all the way. First world, third world, having too many children and/or too soon, and most of them unwanted and in danger of going down the same route as their parents.

    Are you certain that most of those children are unwanted?

    I suspect you might hold some inaccurate assumptions about pregnancy.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    Feral wrote: »
    The Ender wrote: »
    And how do you determine that it is always more cost-effective to spend money in 'X' developing country? Is it more cost-effective to donate towards building a school or hospital in Mosambique than in Connecticut?

    In general, money goes further where exchange rates and labor costs are favorable. I'm surprised this is a point of contention.

    redx wrote: »
    a) unless fundamental structural changes occur in Africa, money spent is not likely to have a long term lasting effect beyond addressing the immediate concerns of recipients.
    b) helping some portion of Africa's children is unlikely to result in those changes, as enough of them are reaching adulthood to sustain the nations' populations.
    c) as technological developments build upon each other, new science and technologies will likely have a greater effect over the long term(hundreds of years)
    d) building a few new science labs, paying for people who would not otherwise to be able to afford science educations could result in greater returns(though it is less likely)

    Sure, building a school someplace where it is immediately going to be bombed is a waste of money.

    However, not every country in Africa (nor every developing country) is wa

    First, it's pretty dishonest of you to snip my quote like that; I said that yes, it's obviously more cost effective to build community projects in the developing world than the first world.

    But not everyone is interested in community projects, and there is no reasonable way to claim that they are quantitatively 'better' than other firms of giving. If this thread is about scams vs legit charities, fine, but the OP didn't even mention fraud. It attacked donors, not scam artists.


    At any rate, what pisses me off about this sort of greater than thou masturbation that inevitably crops-up is the underlying hidden premise that there is all of this donation money / relief money floating around, but oh my gosh, it all goes to waste!

    It's a load of crap. Less than 1% of America's GDP, for example, goes into any sort of relief fund. Most households do not even donate 5% of their yearly income.

    The lack of donors is a much more severe problem than existing donors giving to the 'wrong' cause, whether you want to define 'wrong' as 'a scam' or 'a cause that is not my pet issue'.

    The Ender on
    Not today, motherfucker
  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    First, it's pretty dishonest of you to snip my quote like that; I said that yes, it's obviously more cost effective to build community projects in the developing world than the first world.

    I misread your post, that's all. I didn't recognize that the question I quoted was meant to be rhetorical.

    The Ender wrote: »
    But not everyone is interested in community projects, and there is no reasonable way to claim that they are quantitatively 'better' than other firms of giving. If this thread is about scams vs legit charities, fine, but the OP didn't even mention fraud. It attacked donors, not scam artists.

    At any rate, what pisses me off about this sort of greater than thou masturbation that inevitably crops-up is the underlying hidden premise that there is all of this donation money / relief money floating around, but oh my gosh, it all goes to waste!

    It's a load of crap. Less than 1% of America's GDP, for example, goes into any sort of relief fund. Most households do not even donate 5% of their yearly income.

    The lack of donors is a much more severe problem than existing donors giving to the 'wrong' cause, whether you want to define 'wrong' as 'a scam' or 'a cause that is not my pet issue'.

    Oh, I agree with this.

    I just don't see the issues as mutually exclusive. Yeah, the OP is poorly-framed and a little tactless. (Loren admitted as such.)

    An example where this plays out in the real world: person by person, the second most generous state in the US is Utah. (Wyoming is number one.)

    The vast majority of those contributions are to the LDS Church.

    Now, the LDS Church isn't just building megachurches. They engage in some bona-fide real humanitarian causes; vaccinations and clean water and such. But much of their charity money does go to their religious mission; building churches and sending missionaries worldwide.

    To a Mormon, charity money spent building a church isn't administrative overhead or waste or fraud. It's part of the mission. Both the waste argument and the lack of donors argument are non-applicable here.

    But I'm not going to be uncritical of that use of money. Building a church is a vastly worse use of money than building a school, clinic, or homeless shelter. I recognize that a lot of churches get used as general-purpose community centers; this effort isn't strictly useless. It's just less useful.

    Am I going to be silent about that criticism because I'm afraid of hurting somebody's feelings? Hell no.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    QuidDiannaoChongLoren MichaelGimJuliuszagdrob
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    Archangle wrote: »
    There is a long list of things that people could do to improve the effectiveness of their charitable donations, but don't. Why don't we start discussing these things and start maybe doing them?
    ...
    Finally, and maybe controversially, there's the notion of optimizing one's efforts.
    This is going to sound snarky (see related thread), but debating on the internet is generally regarded as one of the most wasteful uses of someone's time.

    Using one of the least effective mediums for persuading people in an effort to persuade people to be more effective in supporting charity seems rather ironic.

    I'm not expecting to change the minds of the intransigent. I think I'm mostly doing this for the sake of fun discussion and the possibility of elevating this issue in the minds of like-minded people.

    I mean I'm only aware of this issue because of the largely like-minded people I read on the internet so

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  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I don't see why we're fighting about appropriating resources between various 'good' goals (disease cure/prevention, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, etc) when there's plenty more that's donated towards completely terrible purposes, like those torture camps to "cure" gay teens, or ones that are completely useless and pointless like the one from my hometown that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail out thousands of copies of a movie about Jesus to every mailbox in the county to try to convert the six atheists in the area or something (this was rural georgia, so I'm not kidding about there maybe being six atheists).

    Presumably, no one here is giving money to conversion therapy, and we furthermore have much less influence over the people who do so give than we have over ourselves.

    So then why should we be getting mad at each other? There's much worse things out there we could be getting upset at than other people we agree with being slightly less efficient, for whatever definition of efficient we're using?

    I don't think we should be getting mad at each other--although we might get together and discuss which priorities are really most important. And even if what we're doing right now is pretty good, there's always room to try to figure out if it could be even better. I think the hostile OP gave the wrong impression; this conversation doesn't have to be about recrimination. It can just instead be about trying to figure out together why charity is important, and, if we have an answer to that, whether it tells us anything interesting about our giving habits and how we could improve them.

    Indeed. While I don't completely agree with givewell for example I think they do have a few good points. One being that direct cash infusions to the very poor works really well in the non-health charity field. It's not that giving people other stuff is evil, but when the stated goal is to help people why not try the best one?

    The idea that we shouldn't discuss the goals and effectiveness of charity because there is evil in the world is nonsense. And it closely resembles the argument that you shouldn't give money to the poor in rich countries because there are way poorer people out there. And that argument was attacked not a page ago.

    My problem with discussing a charity's effectiveness is that it is very subjective. A small, local charity may have high administrative costs, but that is an effect of having very low revenues. There is this unfair double standard put on charities where they are constantly demanded to provide more for their community while spending less money on their services, while people forget that the ones working for these NPOs have to eat too.

    I'm not sure how this example is particularly subjective. A small local charity having higher costs seems like a clearly worse deal than another charity that does the same thing for less somewhere else.

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  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    The Ender wrote: »
    And how do you determine that it is always more cost-effective to spend money in 'X' developing country? Is it more cost-effective to donate towards building a school or hospital in Mosambique than in Connecticut?

    In general, money goes further where exchange rates and labor costs are favorable. I'm surprised this is a point of contention.

    redx wrote: »
    a) unless fundamental structural changes occur in Africa, money spent is not likely to have a long term lasting effect beyond addressing the immediate concerns of recipients.
    b) helping some portion of Africa's children is unlikely to result in those changes, as enough of them are reaching adulthood to sustain the nations' populations.
    c) as technological developments build upon each other, new science and technologies will likely have a greater effect over the long term(hundreds of years)
    d) building a few new science labs, paying for people who would not otherwise to be able to afford science educations could result in greater returns(though it is less likely)

    Sure, building a school someplace where it is immediately going to be bombed is a waste of money.

    However, not every country in Africa (nor every developing country) is wa

    If this thread is about scams vs legit charities, fine, but the OP didn't even mention fraud. It attacked donors, not scam artists.

    I mentioned scams in both iterations of my OP, and have a clear focus on Givewell and it's ilk so that's incorrect.

    2ezikn6.jpg
    Mongrel Idiot
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    I don't see why we're fighting about appropriating resources between various 'good' goals (disease cure/prevention, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, etc) when there's plenty more that's donated towards completely terrible purposes, like those torture camps to "cure" gay teens, or ones that are completely useless and pointless like the one from my hometown that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail out thousands of copies of a movie about Jesus to every mailbox in the county to try to convert the six atheists in the area or something (this was rural georgia, so I'm not kidding about there maybe being six atheists).

    Presumably, no one here is giving money to conversion therapy, and we furthermore have much less influence over the people who do so give than we have over ourselves.

    So then why should we be getting mad at each other? There's much worse things out there we could be getting upset at than other people we agree with being slightly less efficient, for whatever definition of efficient we're using?

    I don't think we should be getting mad at each other--although we might get together and discuss which priorities are really most important. And even if what we're doing right now is pretty good, there's always room to try to figure out if it could be even better. I think the hostile OP gave the wrong impression; this conversation doesn't have to be about recrimination. It can just instead be about trying to figure out together why charity is important, and, if we have an answer to that, whether it tells us anything interesting about our giving habits and how we could improve them.

    Indeed. While I don't completely agree with givewell for example I think they do have a few good points. One being that direct cash infusions to the very poor works really well in the non-health charity field. It's not that giving people other stuff is evil, but when the stated goal is to help people why not try the best one?

    The idea that we shouldn't discuss the goals and effectiveness of charity because there is evil in the world is nonsense. And it closely resembles the argument that you shouldn't give money to the poor in rich countries because there are way poorer people out there. And that argument was attacked not a page ago.

    My problem with discussing a charity's effectiveness is that it is very subjective. A small, local charity may have high administrative costs, but that is an effect of having very low revenues. There is this unfair double standard put on charities where they are constantly demanded to provide more for their community while spending less money on their services, while people forget that the ones working for these NPOs have to eat too.

    I'm not sure how this example is particularly subjective. A small local charity having higher costs seems like a clearly worse deal than another charity that does the same thing for less somewhere else.

    But if your end goal when making a donation is to make a difference locally, then donating to the small local charity will be more effective to your end goal than donating to a larger one with an international focus. So it is very subjective based on what it is you want to achieve with your efforts. For you that is clearly doing the most good whatever that may be that your money can do, which is a perfectly fine way of thinking, but not necessarily what everyone else's is. For example, someone who spent a lot of time in the hospital as a child will probably be more inclined to give to charities such as child's play because they remember what it was like being in that position and will want to help other children going through something similar. For them this is a far more effective than donating to a charity building hospitals in a third world country. Both are great causes, but the one that an individual finds more effective is a matter of their perspective.

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  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    LostNinja wrote: »
    But if your end goal when making a donation is to make a difference locally, then donating to the small local charity will be more effective to your end goal than donating to a larger one with an international focus.

    And if your end goal when making a donation is to make a difference for wealthy teenage lacrosse players, then donating to a Chevy Chase high schools's lacrosse team will be more effective than donating to Doctors Without Borders.

    Not all end goals are equivalent. Not all choices to help group X over group Y are equivalent.

    If you are consciously making a choice to help group X rather than group Y, knowing that group Y needs your help more or that you can do more good for group Y, then you have reasons for that choice.

    Perhaps your reasons are largely emotional: maybe you want to see with your own eyes some good come from your donation, or you prefer to help people who look and speak like you. Personally, I wouldn't fault you for that - I donate to Larkin Street (a shelter for homeless youth) and CAFETY (an advocacy organization for institutionalized teenagers) because youth disenfranchisement is a pet issue of mine.

    I do not take offense, though, when somebody says that my money doesn't go as far helping vagrant American teens as it would vaccinating Filipino infants. That would be a true criticism. I admit that I make a choice that satisfies my emotional preferences over one that maximizes the utility of my dollars.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    I donate to the Fred Hollow's foundation, chiefly because "$25 == person can regain sight" really really gets to me on an emotional level. I basically can't imagine anything worse then whatever might happen to you in a third world country + being blind.

    Feral
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Perhaps your reasons are largely emotional: maybe you want to see with your own eyes some good come from your donation, or you prefer to help people who look and speak like you. Personally, I wouldn't fault you for that - I donate to Larkin Street (a shelter for homeless youth) and CAFETY (an advocacy organization for institutionalized teenagers) because youth disenfranchisement is a pet issue of mine.

    Yeah, to be clear I'm advocating a methodical and unemotional approach, but in the end there has to be some impetus to do something at all. Cold calculations have to come after that, I think. If that drive demands seeing stuff with your own eyes or knowing that someone believes in the appropriate god or whatever, so be it. At least something got done at all.

    Even in that space though, I think there's always room for improvement. If we want to help, we want to help well; if you've got to give something to the local homeless shelter or soup kitchen rather than [optimal use for your resources] all else being equal, cash is probably one of the best things to give if you can spare it.

    2ezikn6.jpg
    Feral
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    http://www.salon.com/2013/12/14/the_wealthy_give_to_charity_elite_schools_and_operas_partner/

    It’s charity time, and not just because the holiday season reminds us to be charitable. As the tax year draws to a close, the charitable tax deduction beckons.

    America’s wealthy are its largest beneficiaries. According to the Congressional Budget Office, $33 billion of last year’s $39 billion in total charitable deductions went to the richest 20 percent of Americans, of whom the richest 1 percent reaped the lion’s share.

    The generosity of the super-rich is sometimes proffered as evidence they’re contributing as much to the nation’s well-being as they did decades ago when they paid a much larger share of their earnings in taxes. Think again.

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