Why We Give?
“I’m right sick of all the jabber about all the wonderful things that giving does for the giver.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that giving is beautiful. Yet, as soon as that becomes the reason you give, it becomes about 10x less beautiful to me. I think that giving because of what it does for you — whether you call it happiness or fulfillment or what — is crass and misguided and yuck.
And generally, this kind of giving looks very different from the kind I prefer. When the donor gives in order to achieve happiness or fulfillment or any other feeling, the donor is probably giving to his own town, or his own ‘people’ (ethnicity, nationality), or whatever random disease has affected him personally. And making sure the gift is restricted so he can have the illusion that every dollar pays for heartwarming things like food instead of unsexy things like rent. And doing a lot of pointless/unhelpful volunteering and other interaction with the fundraisers and the beneficiaries and the site so that he can see and feel his dollars at work. And definitely, definitely not doing something boring and nerdy like picking apart the methodology used to examine the actual effectiveness of what he’s funding.
This kind of giving is still better than nothing, I guess, but it’s worse than a good cheeseburger.
Loud and clear: good giving is NOT about the donor. It’s about the people in need. Remember them?”
— Sept. 30 “Giving: Like Heroin, But More Expensive,” posted by Holden on the GiveWell Blog (http://blog.givewell.net)