I kept delaying writing this post because I'm not entirely sure where I'm donating over the coming year. I tend to spread donations out throughout the year, so I don't feel a particular rush in December. But, since the end of the tax year is a lot of people's giving season, I want to share my thoughts.
My previous favorite, the Against Malaria Foundation, is not looking so good lately due to problems distributing their mosquito nets. I'm not super concerned about this – I think it's likely that they'll get their act together in the next six months or so and resume distributing nets. But I don't plan to donate to them until that happens. (This is the kind of thing I'm really glad GiveWell is here to tell me about – as a donor, I would never have picked up on the problem.)
My parents usually make a donation as a Christmas present to me, and they asked where they should make it. I asked them to give to Give Directly. I think the just-give-cash method makes a lot of sense, given the evidence that recipients choose quite well what they need, and I hope this idea will catch on. The organization itself seems quite transparent and sensibly run. I also found it encouraging that so many GiveWell staff are making their personal donations there.
I can see advantages to donating later, especially given the fact that the Against Malaria Foundation (which looked like the strongest contender for a good while) may catch up again soon. So I'll probably hold most of my donations for about six months and see how things look then.
If I were holding off longer, like years, I would probably put my donations in a donor-advised fund like GiveWell's or Giving What We Can's.
I also plan to donate some to organizations like GiveWell, Giving What We Can, or 80,000 Hours (I haven't decided on the breakdown yet). I think this is an important time both for exposing more people to the idea of effective altruism and for developing better knowledge about where to give. I need to look more specifically into what those organizations would do with more funding.
Lastly, I'll make some feel-good donations to causes that aren't the most effective (a fundraiser for a friend's business, my Quaker meeting, etc.) These donations come out of my personal spending budget, not my charity budget.
One obvious question is: why divide up money rather than giving all to one place? Giving What We Can makes some good points in their recent post about why to donate all to one charity. But I'm also persuaded that we should act how we want other people to act, and I wouldn't want the whole effective altruist community to donate to only one place. So I'm okay with dividing things up a bit.