1. Effective Altruism and the website Doneereffectief.nl
Effective Altruism is a worldwide movement of people that researches with scientific methods how to do the most good. This can be about your career, your free time or your money. You can find more information on the website of Effectief Altruïsme Nederland, the Dutch chapter of Effective Altruism.
The website was started by Effectief Altruïsme Nederland. We discovered as donors that the hungle of charities is very hard to navigate. It is difficult to find the “best”charities. That’s why we wanted to help others by sharing the knowledge we collected. Donner Effectief is not a for-profit organization and doesn’t have fundraisers. The charities do not pay us to be included on the website or for donations that come through Doneer Effectief.
2. The recommended charities
There are comparison sites and tests of the Consumers Association for almost every product you can buy, so this should also be possible for charitable giving. As far as we know, there is no organization in the Netherlands yet that compares charities to each other in terms of effectiveness. It might seem like a strange ideas, like comparing apples to oranges. But there are indeed scientific ways to quantify, and thus compare, the results of philanthropic organizations.
That’s right. You give from the heart. Most people donate to organizations they have a personal connection to or positive associations with. But even when you give from the heart, you can use your brain too. You don’t spend money on just anything; why would charitable giving me any different? Of course you should support the charity you are donating to. We don’t care which organization you donate to, but we would like to encourage everyone to donate to an effective cause.
After having collected and compared a lot of information, we decided to divide the charities over four cause areas: global health and poverty, animal welfare and sustainable food, climate, and future. This makes things easier for people who want to contribute to a solution to a specific problem. This division of charities is also largely used by other groups within effective altruism.
That is difficult to say, especially because the charities work on very different problems. All organizations we recommend are among the most effective in their cause area. We try to communicate as much as possible which organizations are recommended as top and which ones as excellent.
In short, we don’t know. There are innumerable charities you can support. Of course, the large majority of these do good work. Their impact however, has not been demonstrated yet. Only when an organization has been rated positively by an independent assessment organization do we recommend it on our website.
Everyone is free to donate to any charity they want. We hope that the organization on this website helps you to choose proven effective charities.
Of course there are other good reasons to donate to a charity besides effectiveness, like personal connection or experience with a cause. We have experienced ourselves too that it can be difficult to say goodbye to charities you’ve been supporting for years. We would like to encourage everyone to reassess your current donations and see where change is possible. You don’t have to immediately clear out everything for new donations. It is like with a stock portfolio; you also reassess that regularly to decide what to invest in.
You won’t find the most well-known charities on this website. That doesn’t mean they’re not effective organizations. We simply don’t know, because their impact hasn’t been shown by independent assessment organizations. We also don’t know how much added value extra donations would have. These are both criteria for recommendation by Doneer Effectief. We hope to be able to recommend more charities in the future.
Of course cultural institutions deserve support too; culture contributes to the improvement of many lives. One of the hallmarks of effective altruism charities is that they focus on problems that threaten many lives on a large scale. Cultural institutions generally do not match that descriptions, so they are not recommended on this website.
Many of the recommended charities are originally American, but there are also some from the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany. The country a charity is registered in is not necessarily connected to where they work: most of them have an international working arena.
It seems almost too simple to be true: if someone doesn’t have money for their basic needs, give this person some money and they will solve their own problems. That is not what most charities do; they provide food, healthcare or education. They almost never directly give money to poor people. This might be out of fear it will be gambled away, or spent on alcohol, drugs or weapons. But research shows that very poor people spend the received money in a very sensible way: they mostly use it for sustainable investments, like a new roof on their house, as starting capital for a new business, or to send their children to school.
This is carefully monitored. Cost effectivenes is an important selection criterion. Furthermore, the drain is not as big as you might imagine. Research shows that organizations with good management and able employees are generally more effective than volunteer-driven ones, despite their higher costs. It is the end result that counts.
3. The assessment organizations
Executive organizations are charities that are trying to solve a problem. We have divided those executive organizations over 4 cause areas: global health and poverty, animal welfare and sustainable food, climate, and future.
Assessment organizations independently research the effectiveness of the executive organizations. The most prominent ones are GiveWell, ACE and Founders Pledge. They give advice to donors based on research. Every charity can sign up to be researched.
In the Netherlands there are several quality Marks for charities: Centraal Bureau Fondsenwerving (Central Bureau of Fundraising) and Goede Doelen Nederland (Charities the Netherlands). These institutions don’t perform their own research into the effectiveness of the charities, nor do they compare them to each other. Even though they stimulate the charities to research their own impact, they represent the branch of charities and not the donors. So the assessment organizations we rely on (Givewell, ACE and Founders Pledge) are foreign. That is not a problem, because many charities work on global issues.
Doneer Effectief signals per cause area who assess the recommended charities. The assessment is done by independent assessment organizations that determine whether they 1) reach their goal, 2) do that in an efficient way, 3) could do a lot more good as effectively with extra donations, and 4) are open and transparent about the impact of their actions.
There are two sets of problems. In the first set they problems are solvable and the impact is measurable (for example fighting poverty and improving animal welfare). The other set of problems are things that threathen the entire planet and millions of living creatures, like long term climate change, pandemics, nuclear disasters or the effects of artificial intelligence. These problems often don’t get enough attention and aren’t easily solvable either. Researching the prevention of such existential disasters also doesn’t lead to directly measurable results. But if that would prevent a huge disaster, it could potentially save enormous numbers of lives. That is why this is an important cause area for Effective Altruism.
No. We only point you to organizations that are deemed effective by independent assessment organizations. Through the Donate-button on the website you are forwarded to your charity of choice. Our helpdesk can also assist you with donating. For periodical donations the tax authorities require an agreement with the organization beforehand. That is also something we can assist you with.
Every amount is welcome. With large donations it is fiscally more appealing to choose a periodical gift. Also consider that very small donations are often not effective because of the transaction costs. You can find good information about foreign payments here (in Dutch)