It's holiday season which for many of you will involve getting and receiving gifts, as well as for some: being charitable. This post will provide some help for those looking to do the most good during this giving season.
We likely all want to do good when we donate. Donating to causes is not a matter of feeling good about ourselves, but rather it's because we are trying to do good things in the world. It then follows that we would ideally want to do the most amount of good with our limited resources.
So, how do we accomplish this, exactly? For starters, it's important to realize that some cause areas receive a lot of attention because they are easily marketable or simply popular areas for other reasons. However, this means that choosing, for example, a pet charity, might not be the best idea because they are already receiving a lot of donations (because people care about pets more than other animals, perhaps).
Your donation will likely not be as high-impact because the area you are donating to is not as neglected of an area. On the other hand, farmed animals are incredibly neglected if you think about the scale (billions of farmed animals) and the amount of money being spent on reducing their suffering (less than 100 million dollars).
So, if it makes sense to give back in a way that helps the most, then it seems like we should focus on farmed animals, as well as other animals or causes that are neglected given their scale.
One organization, Animal Charity Evaluators, spends hundreds of hours reviewing animal nonprofits in order to roughly estimate which ones are the best value in terms of doing the most good.
Of their reviews, their three standouts are Mercy for Animals, The Humane League, and The Good Food Institute. MFA and THL are both established nonprofits with a good history of effectively helping animals. The GFI is a bit of a startup, but it's being run by people with a good track record in the effective animal advocacy movement.
So, if you are giving this season, or plan in giving in the upcoming year, I personally would recommend donating to one of those three standout charities.
Sometimes vegans who care about sustainability and the environment will want to donate to an environmental charity. However, I would caution against this because if we go back to the idea of neglectedness, it's not clear that climate change is a neglected area given that there are hundreds of organizations working on the problem, in addition to governments and governmental organizations.
So, what's a vegan environmentalist to do? I think the Good Food Institute is ideal for such a person because they focus on promoting plant-based and animal-free meats, which means that they will likely be helping to reduce a lot of the greenhouse gases associated with meat production. So in that sense, the GFI is a very good charity for those who are both sustainability-minded as well as animal cruelty-minded.
However, should giving only be done during the holiday season? Many people, including philosophers like Peter Singer, believe we have a moral obligation to give throughout the year. If that sounds like a good idea (it does to me!), then you might be interested in how to maximize your giving in the long term.
This is where one organization, 80,000 Hours, comes in. They have spent hundreds of hours researching how to have a positive impact on the world with your career. If you're early on in your schooling (eg., finishing highschool or working on university), then I would highly recommend their website which has handy career quizzes, cause area quizzes, career planning, etc.
Additionally, they have a new book which I'm partway through reading. So far it's really great, and is a good way to digest all of the information and research they have.
Hopefully these tips will help you have the most positive impact for animals this giving season and beyond. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment or share it with your friends or online communities.