Blog

Xafsa Aden

Effective altruism is built on the basis that we have a higher socioeconomic standing and

can afford to give money, time, and energy away. This was clearly illustrated in one of the first

articles we read titled “Introduction to Effective Altruism” which says “ If you earn the typical

income in the U.S., and donate 10% of your earnings each year to the Against Malaria

Foundation, you will probably save dozens of lives over your lifetime.” This is just one example

of how giving money away could be a form of effective altruism, and the article goes on to give

other examples like working directly in cause areas. As undergraduate students participating in

this fellowship, the career section and readings relate to us the most. This allows us to start

considering career paths now that will work with our talents and help us be efficient effective

altruists. The website 80,000 Hours estimates that on average, we will spend 80,000 hours of our

lives on our career. It outlines different career paths that can have a social impact in a way that

you can tailor to your own talents and interests. The four main approaches are earning to give,

advocacy, research, and direct work but in this short essay, I will be focusing on the earning to

give approach.

This approach is particularly interesting because as we all know money makes the world

go round. I think this approach would be most effective in fighting global poverty. This is proven

by one of GiveWell's top charities, GiveDirectly, which sends money directly to poor families in

East Africa. Economic security translates into food security, education and the chance to earn

more. Another organization that proves this is Akhuwat , a microfinance non-profit that gives

interest-free loans to entrepreneurs in Pakistan and after the loans are paid back, it’s then paid

forward to another person. These are both organizations that are constrained by funding and

would benefit from donations. However, this approach doesn’t benefit organizations that are

constrained by talent which can be a huge drawback when working on a cause area like X-risks.

There are some extreme example of this approach like Bill Gates, who earned a lot and is

now giving a lot away, and Jeff Kaufman and Julia Wise, who give half of their salaries away.

Nevertheless, anyone who can afford to give money away, whatever the amount, should give it

away because it can have a huge impact on the livelihood of those less fortunate than us.