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What is Effective Altruism?

Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that advocates using evidence and reason to determine the ways we can help others the most.

Many of us want to do good, but we don't always think critically about how. If we think strategically about doing good, we can help many more people.

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How we can think rationally about compassion and why we should.

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What could we achieve if we could help others better?

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Doing good rationally can reveal ways we can help others the most.

Using Your Heart and Your Head
Using Your Heart and Your Head

How we do good matters.


Did you know some charities are hundreds of times more effective than others? If we care about our impact, we need to think critically about how we do good.



The Outstanding Opportunity We Have to Do Good
The Opportunity We Have to Do Good

Imagine you could save someone's life. Would you?


If you earn the typical income in Ireland and donate 10% of your earnings each year to the Against Malaria Foundation, you will probably save 65 lives over your career.

When we see there is injustice and suffering in the world, it can be disheartening. But there is so much we have already accomplished and so much more we can do.



Areas we can do good better
Areas Where We Can Do Good Better

No matter how much we care, we only have so much time and money to give. If we want to do the most good, we should try to find the most effective causes.

But how do we choose? People in effective altruism use 3 metrics to determine how different causes compare to each other.

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What is the scale of the problem?

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How hard is it to make progress in this area?

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How many people are already working on it?



Introduction to Effective Altruism

Which cause is most effective?

Three Cause Areas
Global Health

If you are reading this text, it is likely that you belong to at least the top 10% of household incomes worldwide. Hundreds of millions of people live on less than €1.5 a day, with nearly half of the global population living on less than €5 a day. As a consequence, many suffer from debilitating yet preventable diseases despite the cheap interventions available: an antimalarial bednet costs under €2 to fabricate and distribute, and a pill to treat humans for parasitic worms costs around half of that, yet millions of people still can’t afford this and are left untreated every single year. This means that for what is to us a very small amount of money, we could drastically change someone’s life for the better in the developing world. The most popular cause in effective altruism, global health is regarded as one of the most cost-effective interventions one may invest in.

Animal Welfare

The overwhelming majority of sentient beings alive today are non-human animals, meaning they are the bearers of the vast majority of suffering. Despite this, proportionately few resources go towards helping them. Only around 3% of charitable donations go towards animal charities, and 99% of this goes towards helping pets, neglecting the trillions of animals farmed and killed for food each year, as well as the unconscionable magnitude of suffering that occurs in the wild. The vast scale and neglectedness of the problem suggests that animal welfare may be one of the highest-impact areas one may go into.


Do you believe we should care about everyone equally regardless of where they were born? What about when they were born? If we use the lifespan of an average mammalian species as a proxy for how long humans will be around, that means around 8 in 10 humans are yet to be born. This places us in a unique position to influence the lives of billions of people in the future. One of the more unconventional ideas in effective altruism, longtermism is the view that it is of high moral importance to use our position to positively influence the lives of future generations.

More to Explore

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