(note from 2020)This post is very out of date. Nowadays I would deffer to GiveWell when it comes to charity recommendations. They recommend one of the charities Tab for a Cause has, namely GiveDirectly.
The picture you see above is what I usually see when I open an new tab in my Firefox browser (you can also see that I didn’t really follow my own advise. This was due to some mistakes at the start of the new layout of the “tab for a cause” website and the addition of the voting system. I hadn’t really thought about what to vote jet and I had a lot of votes. I had so many votes because of an mistake made by the website earlier. Letting sevral hundred people share the same acount, before acounts where introduced). I installed an app that lets me donate ad revenue the site gets from the ads, you might be able to see the ads in the picture. In the spirit of my previous blog post I decided to share this with you in hopes that it causes us to do more good, in an very easy way that doesn’t really take any effort. For the humanitarian that is also kind of lazy. To make this into at least something resembling an blog post instead of just a shameless commercial I’ll now try to justify why I prioritise certain causes slightly (although not by much) over other causes.
The causes that I prioritise stem from both my personal beliefs, on how progress would be best possible in the developing world, and an lack of knowledge about those causes, since I (at least jet) didn’t look into the things the different causes do in depth.
I believe that for the developing world to get better it first needs to develop economically, otherwise people won’t care that much about the rest of their live and the world, since food and shelter are generally high on the priority list for humans. However no matter how poor an population is there will probably at least be a scattered few who still care a lot about the world and other things in life than shelter and food (such as but not limited to, human rights, love, the environment, and the health of other people) and almost everyone will at least in some small amount of circumstances care about other stuff in life.¹ So to align the will of the people with the will of NGOs I think the NGOs should focus on economic development the most, but still never fully neglect any other aid. So I generally give most to education causes and, infrastructure causes (like water), since I think that will probably create the most economic growth in the medium run (let’s say ~2 or 3 generations, unsubstantiated number is unsubstantiated). Since educated people have more opportunities for work, and can also increase the productivity of their fellow countrymen. While infrastructure generally provides an boost in productivity whenever it is created, better roads means less time travelling, better water infrastructure means less time getting water, and less loss of productivity due to dehydration. But I also give “my share” of the ad revenue to the other causes, although in slightly lesser number, since completely ignoring one area of aid or justice can cause an loss of faith in the outside powers that are trying to help, which in turn leads to less efficient aid.
So in conclusion if you think I’m right in my analyses, and you don’t want to do the work of actually reading a lot about foreign aid, and specific causes, and perhaps even specific locations where aid is going (which will probably produce better foreign aid spending than following my analyses) give to education and infrastructure causes the most, and also some but not as much to just about everything else (besides NGOs that support dictators and stuff, yeah those exist too. Remember Kony 2012, it can be argued that the charity that organised that does that in at least a small number of circumstances supported very bad people to eradicate an group that was almost powerless anyway).
If you want to sign up for the app/add-on in the picture you can use this link if you don’t mind/want to increase my “power” over the ad revenue.
Or this link if you think the average user base of the app has better thoughts about where the ad money should go.
1 An paraphrasing of an famous speech by Abraham Lincoln, with quite a different meaning though.
Last but not least some links to get you on your way if you want to actually learn more about foreign aid(they are not all used as research for the blog post but in the past I have read some similar stuff online), also if you want to learn about specific causes, the app has an news page for each cause it gives money to. You can add the news page to your “tab for a cause” tab:
http://www.cfr.org/global/global-conflict-tracker/p32137#!/ (I don’t suggest using my analyses for aid to conflict regions. It will most likely fail horribly, and perhaps, although unlikely, even weaken the support foreign aid has among the developed world)