Year after year, Canadians are generous and donate a portion of their income to charitable organizations. While the number of donors has decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic, the total amount of donations is on the rise. In 2020, Statistics Canada reported that over $11 billion was donated to various official charities. It also shows that one in three donors is 65 years of age or older.(1)
Some of us give spontaneously to organizations that are important to us. Others take a more analytical approach to identify organizations that are using effective interventions (based on the best available evidence) to maximize the impact of their donations. This analytical approach is called "effective altruism".
What is effective altruism?
Effective altruism is a growing global movement. To do good in the world and save lives, effective altruists rely on independent organizations that rigorously evaluate the interventions implemented by charities.(2)
The Evidence Commission report notes that such rigorous evaluations can create a virtuous circle: charities will stop using ineffective interventions and will be encouraged to adopt effective ones.(3)
GiveWell.org is a pioneer in making it easy for people to give money to initiatives that use effective interventions. GiveWell.org estimates that two of its top-rated charities - Against Malaria Foundation and Malaria Consortium - each save one life for every additional US$4,500 they spend on their programs. Such favourable results are powerful incentives for donors who wish to support charities that can maximize the impact of their donations.(3)
By giving to charities that advocate for effective interventions, you can be assured that your money will directly improve the lives of people who need it most, whether it's helping to save lives in natural disasters or treating people with malaria, for example. While fighting poverty is the primary concern of many 'effective altruists', others care deeply about the welfare of animals. In addition, a new societal challenge has gained popularity in recent years: improving humanity's long-term survival prospects by addressing climate change, nuclear threats and biosecurity.
Considering a donation to an effective charity?
In Canada, one of the leading organizations connecting donors with effective charities is the RC Forward platform. Founded in 2017, it is based in Vancouver and has up to 5,000 donors each year. RC Forward offers you the opportunity to donate to charity partners that have been evaluated rigorously. Detailed impact reports on each charity are available to help you choose. In addition, an official receipt will be sent to you so that you can claim your tax credits.
To learn more about RC Forward, visit their website:
- RC Forward: https://rcforward.org
International organizations have also proven themselves, including the GiveWell.org platform which is a pioneer in the effective altruism movement:
- GiveWell: https://www.givewell.org
Whether you are planning to give during your lifetime or in your will, or whether you want to invest your time and energy in community service: every small action helps. Get involved!