Effective Altruism and Philanthropy

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As world events illuminate, philanthropy is needed more than ever. The challenge for many interested, would-be philanthropists is deciding how to contribute and to whom to contribute. We all want to make a difference, and we all want to make sure that our contributions are of maximum benefit to those in need. 

For more discerning philanthropists and those wishing to maximize their impact, effective altruism provides an evidence-based approach to philanthropy that seeks to ensure maximal efficiency for all contributions.

What is Effective Altruism? 

At its core, effective altruism uses metrics to evaluate how effectively donations are reaching target populations and how well these populations are benefitting relative to other means of contribution. 

Originally founded in 2009 as the organization Giving What We Can, the Centre for Effective Altruism is an offshoot of this organization that has been at the forefront of spearheading efforts to improve charitable giving through evidence based analyses. Subsidiary and affiliated organizations continue to branch off towards promoting effective altruism further with an emphasis on promoting charitable efforts that seek long-term solutions that minimize existential risk, maximize compassion and incorporate emerging technologies to provide maximal efficiency in benefits per aid given. Examples of efforts and charities that embody the spirit of effective altruism include efforts to distribute malaria bed nets in impoverished, malaria-endemic countries, promoting alternatives to factory farms to improve animal welfare, and promoting careers that are intrinsically more beneficial to those in need. Through effective altruism, donors can be more assured that their donations will have a measured impact on those who need it most.

man holding umbrella for other
Effective altruism is the project of using evidence and reason to figure out how to best contribute to helping others, and taking action on that basis.”

What is Philanthropy?

Philanthropy is at the heart of any endeavor that seeks greater social change to amend social impediments. Where charity seeks to immediately reduce suffering because of social problems, such as giving food out to those who are in need due to unemployment or some other reason, philanthropy seeks to create programs that can remedy the social problems themselves. 

Philanthropy has a long tradition throughout human history that often coincides with wealth and how to help those who lack it. Early philanthropy, such as in ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures, promoted giving as a means of helping those in need as well as in providing status and privilege for those with wealth. It was through the rise of religion, with emphasis in Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu traditions, among others, to be charitable and give to those in need, such as through tithing, that philanthropy became more socially embraced. 

The colonization of America, among other colonial endeavors, gave rise to a new meaning of philanthropy, particularly for those who were religious and felt compelled to convert or assist Native Americans and Indigenous peoples. The rise of industrialization created new avenues and incentives for philanthropic endeavors, particularly those spearheaded by industry magnates Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller. Simultaneously, the abolition of slavery and the quest for civil equalities, regarding racial, gender and sexual orientation, have also provided incentives for charitable endeavors. Many philanthropic efforts seek to remedy controversial issues, such as HIV/AIDs awareness and associated efforts, while other efforts seek to fund museums, research and international aid efforts.

Philanthropy Definition
Philanthropy, is an older concept compared to Effective Altruism

How Effective Altruism and Philanthropy relate

While effective altruism is a nascent concept with regard to philanthropic interests, its influence has created a new attitude towards philanthropy while also creating more scrutiny. Some in the philanthropic community are leery of the influence of effective altruism on philanthropic efforts. Certain people label it “defective” altruism that seeks to objectify philanthropy and create a centralized system that eliminates individual concern and consideration. 

Others argue that effective altruism polarizes donors and stigmatizes philanthropic efforts seen as not warranting sufficient intervention, such as donating to natural disaster victims and survivors. Further concerns seek to eliminate the “white savior” mentality that has been at the core of many historical philanthropic efforts, such as colonial efforts to reform Native Americans or Africans. 

Given the misappropriation of the disadvantag to fund charity campaigns, many seek to ensure that alternative opinions, particularly of those who are the intended beneficiaries of philanthropy, are recognized and accommodated to ensure that actual improvement is sought.

Proponents of effective altruism note that, at its core, effective altruism seeks to make philanthropy as functional, versatile and comprehensive as possible while ensuring that donations yield maximum impact rather than funding charities themselves or exacerbating social problems. Rather than just targeting poverty eradication, effective altruism efforts seek to address a host of other issues including criminal justice reform, biosecurity and artificial intelligence risk awareness, or farm animal welfare amid global health initiatives. Amid critics and advocates, effective altruism can be used to enhance philanthropic interests by ensuring that all charitable efforts lead to maximum impact to create social improvement.  

boys helping each other
Despite their similarities, there are some conceptual differences between Philanthropy and Effective Altruism

How you can make an impact in Guatemala 

Whether your goal is philanthropy or enhancing effective altruism, supporting vetted non-profits in Guatemala is an excellent way to ensure that you’re contributing meaningfully. Philanthropists can rest assured that Pionero’s philanthropic network incorporates an impressive range of organizations that seek to resolve issues in Guatemala.

Effective altruists can find comfort in knowing that Pionero evaluates organizations in key areas of Impact, Efficiency, and Sustainability. Ultimately, Pionero’s affiliation with Guatemalan nonprofits seeks to improve the quality of life for a country that has experienced considerable hardship. 

Rather than seek charity to ameliorate the suffering of many, Pionero promotes an approach to ensure maximum impact and long-term improvement. Pionero vets all prospective organizations by requiring applicants to submit a preliminary form for evaluation. Pionero evaluates potential member organizations according to the following 5 Pillars; sustainability, efficiency transparency, relevance, and long-term impact. Through these efforts, Pionero seeks to foster the growth of Guatemalan non-profits and the growth of Guatemala itself. 

Whether you’re a philanthropist or looking to make your altruism as effective as possible, browse our database map or contact us to volunteer or donate in order to make your contributions as meaningful as possible.