MyGoodness: Making charitable giving more effective

With so many charities relying on these donations to achieve their goals, how do we choose between them? How do we know how much impact our dollars actually have?

 

Charity wristbands (Photo illustration by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Online game uses hypothetical choices and real cash prizes to educate people on how to make their most of their generosity. 

MIT Media Lab 

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To be a better philanthropist, think like a poker player

Raising money for charity is one thing. Knowing where to give it is another. When some charities are 100 times more effective than others, a world champion poker player knows how to spot who's bluffing.

Raising money for charity is one thing. Knowing where to give it is another. When some charities are 100 times more effective than others, a world champion poker player knows how to spot who's bluffing. Liv Boeree — one of the best poker players in the world — has gotten together with some other poker pros to make better decisions about giving to charity, and encourages others to look further into more transparent charities. You can find out more about Liv at www.livboeree.com.

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Understanding the Complex Relationship Between Money and Happiness

Do you really need a lot of stuff to be happy? Science says that the opposite is true.

Rapper Notorious B.I.G. perhaps put it best... "the mo' money you make, the mo' problems you get." While most of us aren't hip-hop demigods, we all have experience spending money on things that we think in the moment will make us happy but end up being... just stuff. Because when people accumulate wealth, they tend to spend it on themselves. This might make you temporarily happy but it largely means that you spend more time alone with the things that you've bought. But Harvard Professor (and Harvard’s Behavioral Insights Group member) Michael Norton has found that the more people spend on other people or in an experiential way—be it a concert ticket or simply taking a friend out for lunch—the happier they are overall. Michael's has co-written a book that covers this and other subjects called Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending. Professor Norton’s studies are cited in The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others by Tali Sharot.

The Psychology of Gift Giving – and How to Be Better at It

Two things really ruin the holiday season: bon bon jokes and egocentrism. This study helps take the latter out of the gift-giving equation. 

A Polar Bear named Pike prepares to open a gift box while playing in freshly blown snow at the San Francisco Zoo. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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How Donating to Disaster Relief Can Do More Harm Than Good

What if you found out your disaster relief donation did more harm than good? Juanita Rilling explains the humanitarian logistics of unwanted donations, and how you can give in a more informed way.

When we see a disaster strike, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to want to help. It’s possible, however, that despite your best intentions your charitable act may be more of a hindrance than a help. That flies in the face of everything we know about disaster relief – these people need as much as they can, as quickly as they can get it, right? But often our generosity isn’t informed by humanitarian logistics; good intentions can do harm if they lack understanding, as Albert Camus once wrote.

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