It’s possible to feel happier and wealthier while helping others at the same time. Sounds too good to be true. But did you know that people who donate money to charity feel wealthier than those who do not, regardless of income? Yes, even giving away $1 can make you feel wealthier. It seems counterintuitive that one simple secret to wealth is to give it away to others. Not only will you feel wealthier, but also you’ll feel happier, too. I love a double whammy of goodness. In this case, it’s a triple whammy because your money is also helping someone else.
Unfortunately, most charities aren’t very effective and your donation may not be doing as much good as it could. So how do you ensure your charitable donations are doing the best possible good in the world?
It turns out, there is a fabulous organization that has solved that vexing problem. GiveWell does the hard work of researching the best, most effective charities in the world so that you don’t have to. The lazy way to wealth and happiness!
According to the research conducted by Effective Altruism, we could easily make a bigger impact by thinking of the big picture. It never occurred to me that artificial intelligence could be the biggest future threat to humanity and that investing in research to prevent smart machines from taking over is more important than we realize. The Matrix may not be as much fantasy as future reality.
We can make a bigger difference with our donations by understanding these key principles:
1. Donating money is more effective than volunteering time.
That said, why not do both? Those who donate time, feel they have more time. And those who donate money, feel wealthier.
2. Most people donate locally but your money goes further in poorer countries and has a bigger impact.
The poverty line in the USA is $12,500 a year, but that would be a small fortune to many in Africa and India. Donate to the causes that fight the world’s worst poverty, and you’ll make a bigger difference.
3. Most people focus on immediate problems as opposed to much more potentially dangerous issues looming in the future such as AI and climate change.
If we don’t take action now, it may be too late to prevent irreversible damage.
4. Finally, some global health issues are more pressing than others.
GiveWell states that “Every year approximately 10 million people in poorer countries die of illnesses that can be very cheaply prevented or managed, including malaria, HIV, tuberculosis and diarrhea.” We already have the solutions (i.e., treated mosquito nets, antibiotics, vaccines…) so it is a matter of wider distribution.
I was astounded to learn that “The best charities make 10,000% greater difference.” This is truly significant. I wonder if we all switched our donations to the most effective charities how quickly we could eradicate some of the most pressing global problems. It really does matter what charity you donate to.
Check out GiveWell’s impact calculator so you can see just how much good your donation can make. I’m now using GiveWell to ensure that LifeCoach’s charitable contributions are working as hard as possible to make a difference in the world. And guess what? I feel happier already!