Bright Minds: Data-Driven vs. Emotional Philanthropy

In last week’s Bright Minds, we discussed a 2015 New York Times piece on how to intelligently yet emotionally impact others’ lives. The article was prompted by the movement of ‘Effective Altruism’ – which uses data to determine how people can ensure that their money has the greatest impact.

 

Effective Altruism has been a controversial approach because its prescriptive nature does not often mesh well with those who prefer to give to specific organizations that are near and dear to their hearts. However, there is also some merit to the theory. “Optimized philanthropy requires letting go of empathy for any one victim, and abstracting people’s suffering into calculable units that can be affected en masse and at a distance.” We took a quick look at a couple of ways to think about this model and how to apply it.

 

The balance of rational vs. emotional giving

There is a difference between fuzzy feeling giving and Effective Altruism. The key is striking the right mix of data science and emotion when making giving decisions. That is far easier said than done, but if everyone’s end goal is to improve a certain organization, place, or person, the combination is needed.

 

Being pragmatic can unlock emotional connection

Believe it or not, taking a logical, numbers-driven approach can provide emotive relation. Getting a better understanding of how to maximize a giving budget will shed light on a more quantifiable impact. It’s that real, tangible impact that will unlock the emotion that some seek when giving.

 

All of this is to say that we recognize there is no ‘one-size-fits all’ approach to giving. People are truly like snowflakes – every one of us slightly, or severely, different. Some are emotionally-driven, while others are efficiency-focused, and then others are a mix of the two.
Bright Funds understands these complexities, and our platform is built to support them all – with the ability for companies and individuals be strategic and emotional with their giving. Our Fund model is built to provide choice, and the social impact feedback loop supplies everyone the emotion. Effective Altruism is a valuable way of giving for many, but like everything else that exists in this world, we need options – even when it comes to philanthropy.

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