Effective Altruism — what does it mean for fundraising?

by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. He blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter.

Peter Singer wants donors to give based not just on emotion but also on cold, hard facts and clear-sighted reason. He says donors should calculate where their dollars will have the greatest impact, and give only to those charities that demonstrate the best outcomes. It’s like a cost-benefit analysis applied to philanthropy.

He calls this effective altruism. You can read about it here. It’s an idea that some donors find appealing.

The way Singer looks at it, giving involves the larger issue of living an ethical life, and effective altruism says that we should do the most good that we can.

From the donor’s perspective, effective altruism means that giving shouldn’t be simply an emotional response to, say, a photo of a sad child or the story about a homeless person. Instead, donors should weigh the cost versus benefit of their gift to ensure maximum impact.

While all this may seem somewhat unrealistic, it’s actually good for us as fundraisers to recognize what donors who lean toward effective altruism want from their giving. Because, when you think about it, effective-altruism donors aren’t really all that different from donors in general.

Most donors want know that the money they give is being put to good use and that it’s having the intended impact.

So if we want to keep all donors engaged and giving — including the effective-altruism people — it means that we have to respond in our fundraising with:

  • More emphasis on the offer to donors. Giving has to be a good deal.
  • More emphasis on the impact the donor will have.
  • More emphasis on the outcome the donor can expect.
  • More emphasis on reporting back to donors.

In short, everything we try to do to create good fundraising, except a lot more of it.


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog