GiveWell.org

…is easily the most intelligent and serious “do gooder” institution i have ever come across. i am going through its blog posts and discussions on microcredit vs. microsavings and i am just completely blown away by the quality of thought going into the project.

A is probably the only one who knows this right now but ineffective NGOs are a major pet peeve of mine, right up there with pet shops and poor education policy. more specifically, i am skeptical of most self-proclaimed “do gooder” organisation that lives off the marketing of volunteerism as a consumer good or service.

what do i mean? i don’t believe volunteers should have to pay for a true volunteer experience beyond providing for their personal living costs. i don’t believe donation is a moral substitute for actually doing something useful to help people in need, even more so when no homework is done to check if the donated funds will be spent effectively. just because an organisation has an inspiring mission statement on resolving such-and-such issue in such-and-such impoverished region doesn’t necessarily make it capable of fulfilling its objectives.

there are too many organisations that live off the morally earnest and gullible by offering the option of volunteering in various exotic locations as though international aid is some sort of petting zoo tour. even more numerous are those which parade its causes in the vein of activist fundamentals, without objective research to back up its methods or enough objectivity to see where efficiency and progress is lacking in achieving its outcomes. just because an organisation exists to do something ethically commendable does not make that organisation commendable in and of itself, and does not make it necessarily deserving of donated funds or the precious time of a volunteer.

what irritates me above all though is the holier-than-thou attitude some of these more activist-like orgnisations give across. just because one cares an extraordinary amount about some issue doesn’t mean one sits a step above on the moral step ladder.

to know i’m clearly not the only one with a healthy level of skepticism vis-à-vis NGOs and the like, and that something intelligent is being done about researching their effectiveness (or lack thereof) makes me extremely happy. more than that, i am impressed and absolutely inspired. kudos, kudos, my cup runneth over, and all that.

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2 comments
  1. Grace said:

    The site was set up by a bunch of hedge fund dudes who brought in $ by the millions before they decided that this was a much better cause than managing the rich’s portfolios 😉 although their right connections in the right places of course don’t hurt as they provide the ultra-rich an instant channel to funnel their tax-exempt charitable donations. win-win.

  2. krysoberyl said:

    i loved that they were hedge-fund leavers! tbh it doubled my respect for the organisation, ‘cos then you know they’re not in it for the money, unlike so many of these sham orgs that are run like businesses. that they’re run like businesses wouldn’t be so much of a prob if they were actually putting a bang to the buck and getting some tangible outcome!

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