Peter Singer the philosopher and philanthropist has launched the Australian branch of Effective Altruism. Mr Singer says the organisation is targeted at an emerging global movement of people who on one hand really want to make a difference in the world but want to do so on the basis of evidence of what is the most effective thing then can do. These people according to Mr Singer look at research to suggest what really is going to be the most effective thing to do.
Thousands of charities
There are more than 54,000 charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and it is estimated that combined the sector is valued at $103 billion. Effective Altruism is not a charity by itself. Instead it promotes partner charities that it says has been thoroughly vetted by making use of supporting academic literature.
Providing the research
Mr Singer dismissed the criticism that such an approach to giving which is calculated and researched may go against the spirit of charity for some people. He argues when we want things for ourselves, normally we do our homework. If we want to buy a laptop for example, we do the research. This is what Effective Altruism is attempting to do. Put the research out there on the web which shows which are the most effective charities people can donate to.
The approach has its critics
The approach by Effective Altruism has been criticised for being “moralistic” and driving donations towards larger more established charities. It is argued that the approach claims the moral high ground in giving decisions without justification according to Ken Berger and Robert Penn writing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Mr Singer who himself is a professor says the underlying philosophy was just about ensuring each dollar makes the biggest impact and in fact many smaller organisations do make the cut. Professor Singer responds that smaller groups are far easier to evaluate because they tend to do just one thing such as distributing bed nets, or perform cataract operations. This makes them easier to assess whether you are getting your money’s worth