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Professional Giving Advocate

August 5th, 2011
giving  [html]
When I posted my beliefs on giving last week, some people wondered whether it might be more effective to become a professional convince-other-people-to-give person. The idea is that as a programmer I can make a good sized impact by giving money away, but I don't need to convince very many other people to do the same before my impact from persuasion is larger than.

I've been thinking about what this job might entail. A partial list:

  • Doing lots of research into both giving and earning money. You need this so you can answer questions like "how do we know villiage reach isn't just wasting my money" and "does earning as much money as I can mean becoming a lawyer?". There's probably some amount of memorization of key numbers needed here: dollars per life saved of different charities, average lifetime earnings of different jobs, lives saved keeping X amount or Y percent for ones self.
  • Figuring out an advocacy strategy. Telling people "nearly every dollar you spend on yourself would do more good given away" tends to make people stop listening. The consequences of acceptance are just too huge and unpleasant. My guess is that the most effective strategy, in terms of additional dollars donated, would involve emphasizing charity effectiveness, the difference in quality of life between the donor and donees, and how much good one can do with a simple percentage of one's income (10%?). Possibly coin a simple name ending in 'ist' for people who accept this idea. Have good and ready answers to "how much is enough?", "why should I help?", and "should I give money or be a giving advocate?".
  • Getting the word out, in person and online. In person, talk to churches, schools, college groups. Organze smart giving meetups, where people can learn more, have a place to bring interested friends, and get social support and validation. Online, run a blog and website (separate from your personal ones), post to twitter, populate and moderate r/smartgiving, run a discussion mailing list, participate in various communities' discussions about giving, and be available for questions via email.
  • Convincing organizations that want to do something to benefit a charity to choose the current best charity. There are lots of things like this, often with companies, where money is raised to go to something hundreds of times less effective (in dollars per life saved) than village reach (the current givewell top charity).
  • Write books. Possibly a "why you should give" or something autobiographical that explains how you came to believe giving was important.

Other ideas?

I think this could be a full time job, but probably only for one or a few people. Which means that the people who would be best at this job should do it and the people who would be best at earning money to give away should do that instead. My guess is that I'm in the latter category.

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