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  • I’m sharing the below as part of the EA Strategy Fortnight.  I think there’s value in discussing what the role of effective giving in the EA community should be, as (1) I expect people have quite different views on this, and (2) I think there are concrete things we should do differently based on our views here (I share some suggestions at the bottom of this post).
  • These claims or similar ones have been made by others in various places (e.g. herehere, and here), but I thought it'd be useful to put them together in one place so people can critique them not only one-by-one but also as a set. This post doesn’t make a well-supported argument for all these claims and suggestions: many are hypotheses on which I’d love to see more data and/or pushback.
  • Full disclosure: I work at Giving What We Can (though these are my personal views).

Claim 1: Giving effectively and significantly should be normal in the EA community

More concretely, I think it would be desirable and feasible for most people who currently self-associate with EA to give at least 10% of their income to high-impact funding opportunities (e.g. by taking the GWWC Pledge) or to be on their way there (e.g. by taking the Trial Pledge).[1]

  • I think this is desirable for three reasons: (1) effective giving is — in absolute terms — an incredibly efficient way for us to convert resources into impact,[2] (2) even for individuals who may have more impact directly through their careers, giving effectively is often highly cost-effective on the margin[3] and is not mutually exclusive with their direct impact (so worth doing!)[4], and (3) there are many positive effects for the EA community as a whole from having effective giving as a norm.[5]
  • I also think this is feasible. There are good reasons for some people to not give at some points in their lives — for instance, if it leaves someone with insufficient resources to live a comfortable life, or if it would interfere strongly with the impact someone could have in their career. However, I expect these situations will be the exception rather than the rule within the current EA community,[6] and even where they do apply there are often ways around them (e.g. exceptions to the Pledge for students and people who are unemployed).

Claim 2: Giving effectively and significantly should not be required in the EA community

I think we should positively encourage everyone in the EA community who can give effectively and significantly to do so, and celebrate people when they do — but I don’t think that this should be an (implied) requirement for people in order to “feel at home” in the community, for a couple of reasons: 

  • EA is about using one's resources to try to do the most good, and its community should be accessible to people who want to use different types of resources to do this (e.g. money, time, network, expertise).
  • Moreover, we don’t want the EA community to intentionally or unintentionally select only for people who have significant financial resources: we would be missing out on many (if not most) of the people we need to achieve our ambitious goals, including a large part of the global population that isn’t in a position (yet) to give significantly.

Claim 3: Giving effectively and significantly should be sufficient to be part of the EA community

I think giving at least 10% to high-impact funding opportunities (or being on the path there) should be "enough" for someone to fully feel part of the EA project and community, regardless of their career. For example, people who give effectively should feel respected and included by other people in the community, feel represented by community leaders, and feel welcome at general EA-themed events.[7] I believe this because:

  • Giving effectively may be the highest-impact action to take on the margin for many people at any particular point in time.[8] In my experience, many people in the community believe that career change nearly always trumps effective giving in terms of the impact of an individual’s actions.[9] But I think this is at least an open question, given (1) the very high bar effective giving sets in terms of absolute impact (see footnote 2), (2) there may not be enough high-absorbency career paths that outcompete giving effectively in terms of impact, and (3) not everyone is in a position to make a high-impact career change at every point in their lives.[10] (I’d love to be challenged on this point and to see more research into this question.)
  • For many people, I think effective giving has been and will continue to be the most accessible on-ramp to become a part of the EA community, and a way for them to engage that ultimately increases their chances of making a high-impact career change as well. I know of quite a few anecdotal examples of this — including some of the arguably most productive people in the EA community — but I’d love to see this hypothesis properly tested and/or see more data on this if it exists.

Claim 4: Giving effectively and significantly should not require one to be part of the EA community

I think effective giving has the potential to initially reach a much larger group of people than just those who immediately resonate with the values and ideas of the broader EA community, and (as alluded to above) may be an accessible on-ramp for people to engage with EA principles without applying these to their lives more broadly (yet). 

As a result, I think it’s helpful to have separate effective-giving-focused communities and organisations that don’t strongly self-associate with the larger EA community, which provide accessible effective giving resources to people who aren’t yet on board with EA more broadly. This is what various organisations (e.g. GiveWellFounders Pledge) have been doing for a while, and I’m glad to see many new initiatives in this space emerging.

A few recommendations based on these claims

  • Probably most importantly: let’s all individually give effectively and significantly and advocate for it! 
    • Consider taking the GWWC Pledge or (if you’re not ready) the Trial Pledge (this is how I personally got into effective giving); discuss your donation decisions openly with others; and advocate for effective giving among your friends and fellow EA community members (in a positive, constructive, non-forceful way).
    • I’ve been positively surprised in my personal life by how easy it seems to be to have an impact by advocating for effective giving: so many people who are ready to give effectively seem to just need a small positive nudge or reminder to take a pledge — which makes providing that nudge a highly cost-effective action (and very rewarding too!).
  • EA community-building organisations and local groups can promote and celebrate effective giving, e.g. include it in introductory courses as a highly cost-effective use of resources (which doesn’t need to trade off with career change), host an effective-giving-themed event now and then, and foster a culture in which people are encouraged to discuss and celebrate their effective giving openly. (See also this post by Jack Lewars.)
  • When discussing a problem area in a presentation, interview, or a podcast, people in the EA community can by default highlight giving effectively as a course of action by recommending a relevant place to donate if audience members want to help.
  • Earning to give as a career path[11] can make a bit of a comeback, e.g. communities or organisations around this could be set up. Given past mistakes we should obviously tread carefully here: I’m not suggesting it should be pushed hard, but my impression is that earning to give is currently more underrated than overrated (in part due to overcompensation for past mistakes). 
  • There can be clearer places to go in the EA community for people who give effectively and significantly but aren’t currently in a position to change careers. For example, EA Global could feature more relevant content for them, or be more explicitly career-focused itself to make space for a separate conference/event for this group.
  • We could set up more group-specific or local effective giving communities (such as the recent Tien Procent Club in the Netherlands), and figure out the best ways for these communities to collaborate and coordinate with the broader EA community.[12]

As should be clear from the above, I believe effective giving to be a powerful tool, and that figuring out how to use it well within the EA community can make amazing things possible, both in terms of indirect and direct impact. I invite you to disagree with me on any of the above claims and to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments. And where we do agree, let’s use this tool and make those amazing things happen!



  • Thanks to Jacintha Baas, Devon Fritz, Gert van Vugt, Luke Freeman, Michael Townsend and Katy Moore for their input and feedback on earlier drafts of this post.
  • Preview image by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash
  1. ^

    The last data I was able to find on how much members of the EA community give is from the 2020 EA survey, in which only 20% of people who answered the question on donations reported donating 10% or more of their income in 2019. The same survey also found a median of 2.92% of income donated by full-time-employed non-students who earned more than $10,000. I expect we’ll soon have data from the 2022 EA survey on this.

  2. ^

    I think there’s both a strong theoretical case for this (e.g. as money is fungible, the philanthropic market is fairly inefficient, and expertise on high-impact funding opportunities is centralised and accessible) and a strong empirical case that current marginal funding opportunities are extremely cost-effective (e.g. GiveWell having a 10x cash bar and Open Phil increasing its bar for funding longtermist efforts). I think this case becomes even stronger if you consider the cost-effectiveness of advocating for others to give effectively as well (including that being easier when you give effectively yourself).

  3. ^

    For most people, giving 10% of one’s income seems like much less of a sacrifice than changing one’s career (and requires a lot less effort to do well, as generally applicable advice is available).

  4. ^

    Even if you can have more impact in total by changing your career, it may still be worth giving 10% as well. See also Luke Freeman’s recent comment on the narrative within the EA community around effective giving at some point having gone from “yes, and” to “no, instead”.

  5. ^

    For example, in diversifying funding sources, to foster a “practice what you preach” culture, and as a recruitment and educational resource (as everyone can apply EA principles and learn about high-impact causes through effective giving).

  6. ^

    E.g. the 2022 EA survey found that ~50% of respondents were full-time employed and ~38% had attended top 100 ranked universities globally.

  7. ^

    My impression (largely based on anecdote) is that this is currently not always the case, and that there is a sizable group of people in the community who don’t think it’s a priority for it to be.

  8. ^

    Paradoxically, it could be true that most of the EA community’s impact will come from a few high-impact career changes, but that within the community, most individuals’ highest-impact contribution will be effective giving. I’m not claiming this is the case, but want to highlight the distinction between what may be the highest-impact options for any EA-inspired individual and for the EA community as a whole.

  9. ^

    I think this view may stem in part from discussions around the value of earning to give versus direct work as career paths, but (1) those discussions often only apply to a small minority of people at the top end of earnings potential (so not to the majority of people in the EA community), (2) I don’t think the answer is always that direct work is more valuable (see also my suggestion below to revive earning to give), and (3) those discussions are importantly different from the question “What is the best thing I can do as an individual?”, as not everyone is in a position to (immediately) change career paths.

  10. ^

    And of course, again, for people where career change is the most important thing to focus on, this doesn’t exclude them from also considering effective giving (taking a “yes, and” attitude).

  11. ^

    I’m referring to explicitly choosing one's career in order to maximise your donations, not “just” donating 10% in one’s current career.

  12. ^

    If you are interested in starting something yourself, please get in touch with Grace Adams at grace.adams@givingwhatwecan.org, as GWWC may be able to support you.

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Thanks for this, Sjir!

Maybe I am in a very biased bubble here working in the same office as Effektiv Spenden but I notice I find it pretty unclear who is disagreeing with this / which of these claims are controversial and why.

I think few people disagree with these directly, but I think many people believe or act in ways that are in tension with them. Going through the claims:

  1. Many people in EA have not in fact taken the GWWC pledge. I agree with Sjir that it would be better if more of them did (I would probably be even more forceful and say that you probably should unless you have a good reason not to)
  2. One reason people don't push people in EA to take the pledge is that they don't want to make it seem like you have to do it in order to be in EA. So it's important to clarify that we don't think that if we do want to push the pledge more.
  3. EA spaces (the forum is a good example) are full of people who are heavily involved in EA beyond just giving. This creates the impression that EA is "for" those people. It's helpful to clarify that that's not true.
  4. In the past lots of our messaging around effective giving has been quite tied up with general EA messaging. We don't have to do that, and we might reach more people if we don't.

So each of these claims seems like a useful marking post to me.

Thanks for making this more explicit, this is v helpful!

Thanks Johannes.

I'm also unsure about that and eager to find out, which is part of the reason for writing this post. And if it were to turn out hardly anyone disagrees / none of these claims are controversial, I hope we'll find a way to make the actual role of effective giving in the EA community more aligned with what we think it should be (incl. through interventions like the ones suggested above), because I don't think we're currently there!

Strong agree with this. Most EAs would probably agree with these points abstractly, but there is likely a gap in that (I believe) most EAs have not e.g. taken the GGWC pledge.

If I'm reading claim 3 correctly, are you saying that being a 10% GWWC pledger should be sufficient to get a spot at EAG, and this is true regardless of absolute donation amount?

That's much stronger than what I read it as. I think Sjir was saying something more like "if you turn up to a local EA event you should feel welcomed and like you are 'one of the gang' even if you only donate".

The purpose of EAG these days seems a bit murky to me, but it seems to be to be mostly for people who are highly engaged, and I think it's fair to say that if you just donate you are probably not highly engaged (although you might be).

Yes I was making a weaker claim, along the lines of what Michael says. I don't have a strong view on EAG's admission policy in particular (I think this is a tricky topic with many considerations).

I do however stand by what I say in the recommendations section: "There can be clearer places to go in the EA community for people who give effectively and significantly but aren’t currently in a position to change careers. For example, EA Global could feature more relevant content for them, or be more explicitly career-focused itself to make space for a separate conference/event for this group."

I.e. I think EA Global could probably improve in communicating how it serves or doesn't serve people for whom effective giving (currently) is their main pathway to impact.

I made a poll where you can see what others think.

Poll: https://viewpoints.xyz/polls/effective-giving-ea

Responses: https://viewpoints.xyz/polls/effective-giving-ea/analytics 

If you are confused or disagree, maybe write a comment on why so we can understand ourselves more.

P.S. I always love how quickly you turn things into polls. Find it pretty interesting to get a more granular and clustering view of what people thing that’s often not reflected by upvotes and comments.

Keep it up!

Thanks. I hope we can polish this tool a bit and then get it in a iframe. I think we'd then get much quicker feedback. 

Then ideally it would get better at finding disagreement and building concensus.

Thanks for this Sjir. Unsurprisingly, I agree with almost all of it.

I think you make this point overall but just want to emphasise: I don't think giving 10% is feasible for the median American in their twenties (for example). So I think I would phrase this as something like 'giving effectively should be normal for those with disposable income in high income countries; and it should be normal to give significantly according to your means.'

You may be right that 10% is in fact feasible for most people within EA, but that is a function of EA attracting a lot of people with unusual financial security.


I feel like the spirit of early EA and Giving What We Can (and Christianity, TBH) was pushing back on this Occupy mindset of "We are the 99%." In other words, if you're part of the global elite (or even the 50%?), rather than focusing your energy on attacking people even more privileged than you, focus on taking responsibility for your own privilege and what you personally can give first.

I think it's even more important to promote this idea today as I get the sense that the Western world is getting even angrier and adopting even more of a victim mindset, so I personally would feel like we've lost something valuable if lots of EAs today have the view that "giving 10% is [not] feasible for the median American in their twenties."

I wonder if Jack would be equally happy with the weaker claim that giving 10% is not advisable for the median American in their twenties. I'm not sure whether I'd agree even with that but wm it seems more plausible to me than claiming it's not feasible.

And giving 10% could be not advisible (in the sense that it may not be the best possible use of the median 20s person's funds) but superior to their counterfactual use of the funds.

Yes, this is more what I meant (although not sure this defuses the criticisms/disagreement)

Don't really feel like it's an either/or... It can both the case that we should use political processes to require the extremely wealthy to do more to solve world problems AND that we less wealthy, but still comfortable, in global terms, are morally required to do more. After all, even 10% of 30k is saving 6 lives in a decade at 5k/life and would result in mere struggle for one in the developed world.

I think this might come down to opinion and lifestyle expectation, but I think 10% could be feesable for the median American in their 20s. 

 According to this forbes article, the median wage of someone in their 20s in the states is about $45,000 US - this puts you in the realm of the top 1% of earners worldwide (hard to know exactly).

Yes the cost of living is higher in America than many countries, but its less than the majority of other high income countries. I think that giving away 5,000 dollars-ish annually and living on 40k could be feesable for the majority on median wage - although there are loads of scenarios where it wouldn't be (single mother, living in expensive city, health issues etc.).

I fully acknowledge here's a lot of subjectivity as to what "financial security" means, especially in a country like America where the government safety net isn't what it is in other high income countries.

TDLR: I agree with the general idea that many more people could do it than are currently doing it, but I suspect that asking the median American in their 20s to do it would involve some level of financial challenge/hardship, such as living with roommates when one doesn't want to, or not saving money for retirement. I'm reminded of the numbers a few months ago showing that about half of Americans wouldn't be able to cover a surprise $400 expense without borrowing money.

Like a lot of personal finance, the personal aspect of it matters a lot. If I have a salary of $45,000 in the USA, then I'll be receiving about $35,000 per year.[1] The estimated annual cost of living for one adult (with no children) is higher than $35,000 in most major American cities.[2] I haven't seen any US city with a population more than 400,000 that has an annual cost of living lower than $35,000 (they might exist though, I didn't do a rigorous search). Of course, this doesn't account for any wiggle room in the budget, so we better hope that the car doesn't breakdown on the way to work, or that we don't suddenly find a swollen lymph node and need to pay $10,000 for a CT scan.

So there are tradeoffs. And it can be difficult to put oneself in another person's shoes. For people with many resources, for people who have a strong family network they can rely on, for people who were raised in households that were financially stable enough to allow children to focus on studies, for people who have the prestige of a fancy pedigree (and the door that it opens), it can be hard to understand the difficulties of living without these advantages. I suspect many EAs fall into one or more of these categories.

  1. ^

    This is after state taxes and federal taxes, although of course the details will vary. This assumes no IRA, 401(k), or similar investments.

  2. ^

EPI's numbers are somewhat suspect for this purpose in my opinion -- it gave me about $975 per month for transportation in the rural county where my parents live for a single person with no kids, which seems high. Other methodological assumptions seem to err on the side of producing too high rather than too low an estimate for basic decent standard of living, like assuming no employer-provided insurance, using the 40th percentile for housing stock, etc.

Good point! I should be a little more skeptical rather than blindly accepting EPI's numbers. Thanks for pointing this out for me!

This was basically my thinking. I think it is reasonable to keep an emergency fund to cover things like (in particular) unexpected healthcare bills, and that giving away 10% would make this hard to do. My anecdotal experience of high cost of living cities in the US is that it would be challenging to live there on $35k of take home salary.

Of course, in a strictly utilitarian sense, I guess it isn't "reasonable", because it's not more "reasonable" than protecting someone from a deadly case of malaria - but then none of us lives out that maximalist thinking in reality anyway. (E.g. everyone commenting on this post spends at least some money on themselves in a way that could be redirected elsewhere.)

I'm really quite interested in how much disagreement my original comment got, even as a professional promoter of effective giving myself. It's informative!

Also I hope everyone who is downvote disagreeing with Jack here is giving away at least 10% :D :D :D.

giving effectively should be normal for those with disposable income in high income countries; and it should be normal to give significantly according to your means

I like this rephrasing, because it makes somewhat clear that if you lack disposable income we aren't expecting your to put yourself in hardship in order to donate.

Thanks for writing this up!!!

This is a great post. Effective Giving still has a huge role to play in achieving so many EA objectives. 

One aspect that the community could potentially help with is tax-effective donations. Most people tend to think of that as a "nice bonus" - but we can be much more hard-nosed about it - it is a massive part of what makes a donation "effective". 

Almost every country offers tax-breaks for donations, and in many cases this means that we can donate 10% of our salary with a net cost of, say, 5% (order of magnitude). This is huge:

  • If you cannot afford to donate 10%, maybe you could afford to donate 5%. In that case, maybe there's a way to do this year-on-year where you donate 5% plus the tax-rebate, which is effectively 10%. 
  • If you can afford to donate 10% and you're not cash-strapped right now, maybe you could afford to donate 20% knowing that you'll get half of that back next year. 

I know it's not so simple, but tax-deductibility rules are typically straightforward enough that a simple online calculator would let people work out what monthly donation they could afford on a going basis, factoring in the tax-rebate. 

Part of the challenge with this is that in many countries, including much of the EU, there is not a registered EA charity or EA-recommended charity which provides the standard documents required to claim a fiscal deduction. I'm in Belgium, and it took quite a bit of research for me to figure out how to donate to a direct-giving charity based in the Netherlands and get the right paperwork. There may be an opportunity for someone with the EA community to look at how to simplify this. I've talked about it with another EA here, he was struggling with the same problem. 

I wonder is there an opportunity which EA could exploit, along with a pledge or separately from it, in which we make the following bargain: 

You commit to donating (net) X% of your salary (or just X money per month) and we will commit to making the most effective use of that money, including by maximising tax-deductibility and by ensuring that the money goes to the most effective charities - or to an effective charity (from our list) of your choice. 

This would be quite a bit of work, dealing with a lot of bureaucracy - just thinking about the situation in the EU makes me shiver ... And we might face opposition from charities which are already set up in each country and which do not necessarily want a "competitor" taking some of their donations. 

[To be clear, I have gone a bit off topic relative to the original post - my idea would be to do this not just for EA members, but eventually to promote this donation method to the general public, to businessmen, to businesses, etc. If we truly believe that our recommended effective charities are the best, we should be ready to talk to companies and ask them "why are you donating the funds from your charity drive to Charity X (some famous charity, I won't name one to avoid offending anyone) when we could achieve 10 times as much with the same money?"]

In case it's not obvious, this is something I personally am passionate about, and I'd be willing to help, especially within the EU, if someone wants to collaborate and/or has an idea where to start! 

First of all, this is a great comment and indeed many others have been thinking along the same lines — I was hired by GWWC in June and a substantial element of my role will be to help effective giving initiatives get started in new legal jurisdictions, which will enable tax-deductions in more places. There are already many national ‘regranting organisations’ which fulfil the purpose you are suggesting here and we’re hoping to see many more get started. For an overview of the effective giving ecosystem and what already exists you can take a look here. And to see tax deductibility of donations by country take a look here. Very tentatively, I’m quite excited about new projects getting started in Italy, India, Singapore, Poland, South Africa, Mexico, South Korea, Japan and Portugal, but need to think a lot more about this.

In my view, the primary purpose of these new initiatives is not to increase impact through extra donations that would have otherwise been paid as tax, but rather to facilitate localised outreach and promotion of effective giving. The majority of resources available online are in English, which means we are missing out on reaching a large segment of the global population who may become effective givers.

I largely agree with HakonHarnes that tax deduction is not “a large part of what makes a donation effective, as our main claim to effectiveness lies in the interventions themselves, which can be many orders of magnitude better than typical charities”. Rather regranting organisations are particularity useful because they reach new audiences which counterfactually would not have started donating to effective charities. It is true that enabling tax-deductible donations will have some counterfactual impact insofar as old donors who previously could not give tax-deducible donations would be able to increase the amount they give. However, the largest impact that tax-deduction has, in my view, is psychological, allowing new donors to give more $ makes them to feel like they are contributing more and getting the most value for their donations. This is especially true when taking people on a journey from making tax-deductible donations to charities in their home country to making donations to highly effective charities. It may make people feel uncomfortable that they are able to give less overall, and they may initially struggle to buy into the idea that the best charities are 100x more effective than the median charities. For this reason I agree that tax-deductibility is an important element of the strategy to make effective giving more widespread.

One thing I’d love to follow up on from you’re comment is whether you’re saying that Belgians can always donate to Dutch charities in a tax-deducible way? Because if so that would mean that such information could potentially provided on the website of Doneer Effectief and could be promoted to Belgians.

On the promoting effective giving to businesses side of things, One For The World have been having some success and I’m excited to see much more done on that front!

Really excited to hear about work on the tax advantage front! In addition to what you said, I think some people see their national governments as low-bar charity evaluators, and the lack of clearing that perceived "bar" is an impediment.

Thank you Luke for this great answer and so much valuable information. It may be the Belgium is just a few steps behind other countries, since most of the countries surrounding Belgium seem to have the option to donate tax-deductably. 

No, as far as I know it is NOT possible in general for Belgians to donate to Dutch charities, but there are schemes which enable donations to specific charities which are part of those schemes. 

For example, the website Transnationalgiving.eu seems to be a great resource on this, but it's still highlighting the complexity of cross-border donations within the EU. 

There is a process through which it is possible for someone from Belgium to donate, but only to charities which are registered with this scheme. There is GiveDirectly in UK and I think other direct donation charities (which I like), but I do not see any effective altruism charities on that list. If there are some, it would be great to make people aware of it. If there are none, maybe it would be worth contacting some EU / UK based charities to see if they can easily register. 

I am happy to try to do this - are there any specific charities you would recommend in the list of countries given on the website? 

Really appreciate your comment and advice, and sorry for the very slow reply, I had some heavy time-commitments recently. 


Hey Denis,

Sorry for not seeing this sooner! If you're interested in reaching out to a few charities and making the case that they register (if it's not to hard) that would be pretty useful. I'd recommend starting with GWWC's top recommendations: https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/donate/organizations

Please contact me on lucas.moore@givingwhatwecan.org if you get anywhere with this :) 

I've been involved with Gi Effektivt for many years, which is the Norwegian version of what you are suggesting here. There are many effective giving orgs all over Europe, and more to come, which focus on this area exactly. In NL Doneer Effectief is probably the dutch version you are referring to?

We've been surprised to see how much people care about tax deductions, especially outside the core EA movement. I think I disagree that tax deduction are a large part of what makes a donation effective, as our main claim to effectiveness lies in the interventions themselves, which can be many orders of magnitude better than typical charities. In Norway tax deductions give you ~23% more donation capacity up to 2 500 euros. That is, you get to deduct your donations up to a ceiling of 2 500 euros (it's slightly more complicated, but it's the gist of it).

Surprisingly we see even donors donating substantially above this ceiling amount care a lot about getting their deductions. So yes, there is some evidence that this is important for donors that fit the typical EA-mindset, at least in Norway :)

From a US perspective, I'd note that the tax break is useless to most people, especially after the Trump-era tax reforms. You have to itemize deductions and choose to give up the standard (default) deduction amount in exchange for that. Only a minority of people itemize, generally those who are wealthier and/or pay lots of mortgage interest.

Thanks Jason, I did not know this. On my tax returns, it is literally worth 45% of every donation. If I donate 100 euros, I get back 45 as a tax rebate. Or put another way, if I donate 200 euros, it only costs me 110 net. Which is quite a dramatic number. 

And while I agree with the other comments that this is less than the 100x efficiency differences we sometimes see, I would reply that the goal would be to donate the 200 euros to the 100x more efficient charity, and so get 200 x the benefit, which is still valuable. 

But fully agree with everyone who is saying that it's better to donate to a very efficient charity even without a tax-deduction than to limit myself to donating to charities which are approved for tax-decudtion. 

I agree with the overall claims.

However, with regards to Claim 1:

There are good reasons for some people to not give at some points in their lives — for instance, if it leaves someone with insufficient resources to live a comfortable life, or if it would interfere strongly with the impact someone could have in their career. However, I expect these situations will be the exception rather than the rule within the current EA community, [6] and even where they do apply there are often ways around them (e.g. exceptions to the Pledge for students and people who are unemployed).

I disagree with the phrasing 'exception rather than the rule'. To me this suggests that there are only rare and uncommon reasons for failing to donate at least 10%. 

But in footnote 6 you say "the 2022 EA survey found that ~50% of respondents were full-time employed". 

If this survey is representative, this suggests that a small majority (or sizable minority) of EAs could plausibly not be in a position to donate at least 10% (of those full-time employed, some proportion will be on low-income salaries, or trying to save up to ensure they have a big enough 'personal runway').

I don't think one needs to be on a fulltime salary to be in a position to give, e.g. among the surveyed population I would expect many/most of the people who are part-time employed (~12%), self-employed (~11%) and retired (~2%) to be able to do so. The majority of other respondents are students, for which the exceptions I refer to in the post can hold (but I wouldn't be surprised if most of them would be in a position to give >10% as well).

Fair point - it might be 'sizable minority' then (say 25-40%) rather than small majority who aren't in a position to give >10%. 


which doesn’t need to trade off with career change


  1. ^

    I do think we should promote both giving and career change. I think it's even more important that we promote recognition of the harsh reality of trade-offs.

For example, as there are many situations in which starting to give >10% effectively will only trade off with (various levels of) personal comfort and not (in any significant way) with how well you are able to optimise your career for impact.


Okay. But even when the 10%+ comes out of someone's 'personal comfort' pot, it's still the case that it could go into a 'career' pot rather than a 'donation' pot.

I think it's the "need to" part that doesn't sit right with me.

"...which doesn't always trade off [in any significant way] with career change..." - sure. Lots of people feel like they have a healthy amount of financial runway for any career breaks they might realistically want/have to take, similarly for any training/studying they might want to do, a move to a more expensive city for a job, taking a pay cut, keeping up with spending habits of colleagues to fit in, paying for productivity-enhancing goods/services etc - lots of people already have a lot of savings and/or are fairly confident they won't want to make any drastic career changes. There is a point at which donating is the more altruistic move than investing in one's own career. And donating is a good signal of moral commitment that I think only becomes more important as EA grows.

But to me, "doesn't need to trade off" sounds more like there's this general way of looking at things or this general thing people can do to make it so that they don't have to choose between donations or career change. Which I don't think is true.

Maybe we're actually on the same page. I just think confronting trade-offs is one of the best things about EA and I'm worried that feature is starting to slip a bit.

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