Gas station without pumps

2019 April 13

Thinking about charity

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:39
As I enter what university-development people optimistically call the “wealth-distributing years”, I’ve been thinking about increasing the amount I give to charity.  Currently, the amount I give is modest (about 2.5% of gross household income), but I’ve determined that I now have more than enough retirement savings and income, and my son is finished with college, so I can up my giving substantially, without much risk of running out of money in my lifetime.
My wife and I will be discussing who we want to give to and at what level over the summer (when we time to think about something other than work).  I mentioned my intention to up my level of giving to charity to my son,  and we had a discussion about the philosophy of charity. He suggested a long reading list that has shaped his own approach to charity (he plans to be more generous than me, initially giving 10% of his gross income to charity).
Here is what my son sent me:
Here are some of the essays that shaped my views on charity and philosophy. I don’t expect you to fully agree with them (I certainly don’t), but most of the arguments that I was making are derived from these essays. If you’re only going to read a few, they are organized in roughly decreasing order of importance.
A good FAQ about giving, specifically giving 10% of income:
About political activism and what it means to be a good person:
About animal welfare and local giving:
About existential risk:
About political giving:
About classifying good and bad:
About spreading donations over multiple charities:
Anecdotes about the weirder aspects of the movement:
And, finally, some feel-good news:
I don’t have time right now to read everything here—certainly not and think about it carefully, which is what I need to do—so I’m putting the list up on my blog so that I can find it again easily.  I’ve not started on the reading yet.
I expect to write future blog posts as I work my way through the list.  I suspect that I’ll find things that I agree with, things that sound good but I’m not convinced by, and things I disagree with.  I’ll probably be asking readers for help thinking about the things I’m not convinced by or that I disagree with.


  1. Very interesting reading list, after glancing at a few links. I’ll look forward to seeing your thoughts.

    Comment by profbillanderson — 2019 April 16 @ 09:31 | Reply

  2. […] under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:32 Tags: charity In my post Thinking about charity, I provided a number of links to articles my son had sent me for thinking about charity and […]

    Pingback by Why charitable giving | Gas station without pumps — 2019 May 20 @ 11:32 | Reply

  3. […] under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:33 Tags: charity, effective altruism In Thinking about charity, I listed some references that my son sent that influenced his thoughts on charitable giving.  Now […]

    Pingback by Readings about charity | Gas station without pumps — 2019 June 24 @ 19:33 | Reply

  4. […] Thinking about charity started the series by giving a series of links to articles my son recommended on effective altruism. […]

    Pingback by How much to give to charity | Gas station without pumps — 2019 July 4 @ 14:56 | Reply

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