Ever since the presidential election, charity advocates have claimed that The Time to Donate is nigh. Trump’s proposed tax reform plan will likely reduce the amount of charitable giving that can be deducted from annual taxable income, leading to a donation shortfall among cause groups. At the same time, his budgeting priorities may redirect funds away from places like the NIH and EPA, who do world-improving work. There’s even a Trump Relief Pledge urging those who gain tax breaks to channel that money back toward charitable work.
But that won’t happen if donors themselves aren’t truly passionate about the philanthropies they support. So 80,000 Hours, an effective altruism research group affiliated with Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute and The Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, has created a short online quiz to match would-be givers to their true cause calling.
The test consists of six short exercises that include basic value statements that takers must rate by their level of agreement. For example:
And future-looking questions about what sort of dystopia might ultimately be the most imminent or harmful, like this:
There’s also a handful of cheery questions about which is worse, total nuclear annihilation or a scenario where some people survive to rebuild, whether valuing all beings equally is important to society building, and your threshold for pursuing risky interventions that could flop or pay huge dividends.
The basic idea is that if solving problems takes more than just giving cash, you have to fund groups with a clear vision and accounting to track the change they’re making. The approach furthers an emerging trend in philanthropic thinking: it’s important to make sure you’re not just treating the symptoms of a problem but the underlying root cause.
The full list of categories includes biosecurity, climate change, farming, global health and development, nuclear security, mental health risks from artificial intelligence, and–because ostensibly none of this would be possible without the underlying think tanks and theories–continued effective altruism research. (After all, many of the recommendations are drawn from research done by other effective altruism-based charity groups including GivingWell, the Open Philanthropy Project, and Animal Charity Evaluators, and the Centre for Effective Altruism.)
“People in the effective altruism community aim to use evidence and careful reasoning to work out how to best promote the well-being of all,” writes research director Robert Wiblin in an accompanying report. If you’re still not sure which top choices should receive funding, Wiblin recommends choosing whatever group seems furthest from its goal. Part of effective problem-solving means thinking about not just scale and solvability but neglect, and not everyone is hurting the same these days. “Some organizations already have a lot of funding relative to what they can do with it,” he adds