One idea that is starting to become more mainstream is the notion of efficient charity as opposed to inefficient charity. It is no secret that certain charities are not run very effectively, and that a good portion of the monetary donations that they receive do not directly go into addressing the cause in question. It is also no secret that the causes themselves will vary tremendously in terms of how much they help society as a whole.
While I love animals, an animal rights charity is going to do very little for society at large, since animals are not part of human society in the way that people are. Given how damaging even the loss of one life can be to a community and to a family, a charity that is aimed at saving lives is going to work wonders for society as a whole. Charities that are aimed at attacking the roots of social problems were very much designed with the rest of society in mind.
I do think that efficient charity is a very important concept to keep in mind. People only have so much money to give to charity, even if they are very wealthy. It makes more sense to give to the organizations that will help the most people. While all charities will help some people, the difference between saving one life and saving hundreds of lives is unmistakable.
However, it is important to remember that adhering to efficient charity is a guideline and not a rule. I don’t want to discourage people from giving to the causes that they personally care about, and I would expect that they would extend the same courtesy to me. All people have certain emotional factors that motivate them to give to charity, and it is important to encourage those feelings. There is nothing wrong with giving to charity for the sake of warm fuzzies.
However, it should be noted that some charities are inefficient not because of the causes, but because the charities are actually doing very little to support the causes in question. All charities are going to need to spend money on their headquarters and meeting places, advertisements, and promotions. Charities like PETA barely spend their money on anything else. Even people who agree with PETA’s cause and tactics should hope that PETA is doing enough to help animals, which is certainly not always the case.
There are charities that are trying to deliberately scam their contributors. However, most of them are simply not run especially well. Making a difference in the world is really difficult. Not everyone is up to the task, which is why it is a good idea for some people to become donors instead of volunteers in the first place. Not everyone is wise enough to make that choice, and charities get headed by people who are not truly qualified for the job.
I would encourage people to research charities before contributing to them. Some charities are so efficient that a contribution of thirty dollars could save a life. Other charities are so inefficient that the donors are just helping them stay afloat, and nothing is really getting accomplished one way or another. Donors need to know which charities are which in advance, or they are going to find that their altruistic tendencies are going to waste.