Steve Thairu Mbaki

Effective Altruism : The Act of Helping Better

I recently came across effective altruism and I have been very taken by the concept. Effective altruism is a project that aims to find the best ways to help others and implement them. It is basically about doing good as effectively as possible. Its motto states that charity begins where we can help the most rather than the classic saying charity begins at home. This idea tends to focus on the people who are most neglected by the current system, mostly it is often those who are more out of our social circles.

It is both a field of research and action, whose goal is to identify the most pressing problems in your life and the world and the best solutions to address them, figuring out which causes and interventions with possibly the biggest positive impact while building a community that wants to use this research to make the world a better place. Then taking steps to support those high-impact areas, often through donating to charities or working in fields to solve major problems.

What makes effective altruism so important is that while many attempts to help others fail, others prove extremely effective. An example: with equal resources, some charitable organisations manage to help 100 or 1000 times more people than others. This means that by thinking carefully about the best ways to help others, we can tackle the world’s biggest problems and achieve much better results.

What brings these people together is not the conviction of having a single solution to the world’s problems: it is usually a way of thinking. People try to find ways to help that work remarkably well, to achieve maximum impact with a given amount of resources. 

People who want to have a positive impact on the world tend to want to tackle a problem directly because seeing real results from their actions is much more motivating, this is the distinguishing quality of effective altruism. What matters is that the world is moving forward, whether it’s because of you personally or not. This thinking leads proponents of effective altruism to instead try to help indirectly, by enabling others to act better.

Effective altruism is good at improving decision-making; more precisely if key actors like leaders knew how to make better decisions using the principles of effective altruism, the society would be in a much better position to face future global problems, whatever the circumstances are.

Effective altruism isn’t defined by the projects above, and what it focuses on could easily change. What defines effective altruism are the principles that underpin its search for the best ways of helping others through prioritisation, altruism, truth seeking and radical collaboration.

Their goals are to find the best ways to help, rather than just working to make any difference at all. Secondly, focusing on the groups who are most neglected, which usually means focusing on those who don’t have as much power to protect their own interests. Finally, putting serious time into deliberation and reflection on one’s beliefs, being constantly open and curious for new evidence and arguments, and being ready to change one’s views quite radically.

Effective altruism does not mean supporting the saying the end justifies the means but rather is about being a good citizen and doing this effectively requires high standards of honesty, integrity, and compassion.

We need a healthy environment to survive by tackling a problem where few other stakeholders are engaged . For example, reforestation interventions and eco resilience. As an individual, it is generally difficult to influence the political and economic system on which future sustainability depends. Few of us have the network or skills to influence lawmakers or businesses. On the other hand, supporting (financially or by volunteering time) those who have these skills and this network can make it possible to achieve more significant changes. Unlike carbon offsetting, this makes it possible to change the structures that are in question.

Therefore, if we found new ways to improve decision-making by these crucial stakeholders, we could have a decisive impact. However, there are some very promising solutions to achieve this.

You can apply the principles of effective altruism to whatever your level of involvement, and in all areas of your life: what matters is not how much you want to contribute, but the fact that your efforts are guided by values ​ and that you strive to make them as effective as possible.

Generally, this involves trying to identify the most crucial and neglected problems across the world, the most effective solutions to solve these problems and how you can help solve them, whatever the weather. or the money you want to give.

By doing this and through careful analysis, you may realise that it is possible to have much more impact with the same resources. Finding a team of other effective altruists could play a role in solving some of the biggest problems facing our civilization today.