by Alex Rattee
In a previous post I defended that Christians should give to organisations on the basis of effectiveness and should not take too much consideration of whether an organisation is Christian or not.
In this post I want to explore what pro-active steps the Christian EA community could take given that some Christians will only ever want to give to specifically Christian organisations and that there may, as outlined in the previous post, be some particular benefits that could be realised by this approach. This post is primarily about documenting some of the most obvious available options and I do not evaluate them here.
Option 1: Identify and publicise the most effective Christian organisations
It could be valuable to increase the effectiveness of those donors who only want to give to Christian organisations by pointing them towards the most effective Christian organisations.
There is a spectrum of options. One end of the spectrum is to set up a GiveWell style organisation which assesses Christian organisations according to how effective they are. The other end of the spectrum is to do back of the envelope calculations to provide rough estimates of the best Christian organisations. Alternatively one could provide Christians a list of considerations to think about when donating to Christian charities (e.g. Does the charity mention measurement and evidence on their website? What does a crude application of the importance, tractability, neglectedness framework say when you apply it to the charity?).
Option 2: Create a Christian granting fund
Given that for some Christians the primary motivation for wanting to give to Christian organisations is to bring God glory as a result of their donations being understood to have been motivated by their Christian faith, this goal could be met by creating a Christian re-granting fund.
Christians could give to the fund which would then re-grant the money to the most effective organisations regardless of whether those organisations were Christian or non-Christian. However, the re-granting fund itself would be explicitly Christian and as a result people would know that the money was ultimately coming from a Christian source.
Option 3: Create Christian clones of highly effective non-Christian organisations
Whatever properties are required to make an organisation a Christian organisation, insert those into a cloned version of a currently existent effective non-Christian organisation. I.e. make a Christian GiveDirectly and direct people to donate to these. This would allow Christians only wanting to give to Christian organisations to support very effective organisations.
Option 4: Make the biggest Christian organisations more effective
If we work to make those Christian organisations which already receive the most donations substantially more effective then without moving anyone’s current donations we can make sure more impact results. One way of doing this would be to encourage Christian organisations to refocus their efforts on cause areas which are of higher priority or to direct more of their resources to their current interventions which are known to be more effective.
Each of these options has clear costs and benefits and like most actions, their value will be very sensitive to how thoughtfully they are executed. It’s quite plausible that some of these options would be orders of magnitude more effective than others, particularly because how effective an intervention is turns significantly on the cause area it is focusing on. Equally, it is worth remembering that some of these options might be net harmful if done badly.
Exploring the above options doesn’t exclude the possibility that much of our effort should instead be spent on encouraging Christians who only give to Christian organisations to consider giving to non-Christian organisations too.
If doing more thinking about any of these options interests you then we’d love to be in contact and to connect you up with others who feel similarly.