What charities/orgs are measurably effective in bringing people out of poverty and violence in US?
The recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans has been an emotional topic for me. The thing that makes me sad is, it seems the most I can do to de-escalate a violent situation I see on the news without putting myself in clear danger is to basically distract the aggressor from afar and comfort the victim afterwards.
What makes the matter more complicated is, if you look at the demographics of those who tend to commit these violent crimes against Asian people, they're often other minorities. It's so easy to fall into a trap of undermining the progress we've made in racial/social equality the moment we acknowledge that Asians are being targeted. For similar reasons, I view that our political system is entirely ill-equipped to handle this matter in a sustainable matter.
But I'd still like to turn this into something positive. Because I live comfortably as an engineer in the Bay Area, I was thinking I can donate to charities and organizations that are effective at bringing an end to this violence every time I see news about an Asian American getting targeted on social media. I plan on doing my own research as well, but I hope you can also give some suggestions.
I’m also a Bay Area software engineer like OP. I volunteer my time teaching programming and job searching skills to those not currently benefiting from the trillions of tech dollars in their neighborhoods. I don’t think I can do a ton to fix things, but if I can help get a couple of people out of poverty that is better than nothing.
Edit: The organization is called Mission Bit
All we can do is try to start a ripple :)
Thanks for the list. Donating to orgs that focus on feminism and/or sex workers is something I had not thought of at all until now. I will definitely evaluate them. Regarding joining an organization myself, I do spend quite a bit of my time volunteering for causes I believe in. Unfortunately, they don't exactly cover this one particular area very much.
It depends whether you want to make impact way upstream, downstream, or somewhere in the middle, and that depends on how you view the order of the causal cascade of human problems. In the Effective Altruist community there's been some similar discussion. Some individuals feel that donating money to GiveWell orgs—which ostensibly will save the most amount of lives for your money by donating to organizations they've judged to be the most effective—may actually be suboptimal.
There's limitless suffering in the world. Some feel that human suffering is a black hole you can throw x% of your salary endlessly at and make very little difference — as an individual.
However, nearly all human problems are ultimately policy problems. For example, the Bay Area has a huge housing insecurity crisis despite there being so much available land and resources. So much of the Bay Area is just single-family housing, and it's notoriously difficult and expensive to build high-density housing for no natural reason (except maybe earthquake-proofing structures). No amount of rent control, GoFundMe's, and whatnot will fix the fundamental urban planning policies at the root of the housing shortage.
So, some people think that—as strangely counterintuitive and vulgar as it sounds—it is most cost-effective and impactful to give money to lobbyists to push politicians to allocate state resources or create policy to solve fundamental problems. And state resources vastly dwarf your and all your friends' donations altogether. The ten largest charities' revenues combined would make a rounding error in the US government's annual budget.
In the 2016 election cycle, the gun rights lobby spent a measly $55m, compared to an even measlier $3m by the gun control lobby. It's only in 2018 did this reverse, with the help of billionaire Michael Bloomberg. If this continues — and presuming the idea that lobby money buys political firepower holds true — we may see positive changes in gun control in the near future. Had half of America donated some spare change to the gun control lobby over the past decade, our current timeline probably would look very different.
Also, I think it's great that you're interested in orgs that are measurably effective. I once took a deep dive into the non-profit space with a socially-minded startup that aimed to build software tools for NGOs. It was somewhat disillusioning. There I learned that many non-profits are wildly inefficient, ineffective, and disorganized. They're human enterprises like any other.
Hey thanks for the insight. I wonder if these Effective Altruist communities can be found online (e.g. as a Slack/Discord channel) or if they have to be joined in person. If you know of any online ones, please do share.
I don't think it's counterintuitive (or vulgar) to think that a top down approach is necessary -- I believe both top down and bottom up approaches are needed to solve systemic problems. It's just that I feel, given our current political climate, this issue may become yet another wedge to drive people apart if further politicized.
I have never donated any money to any lobbyists in my life. If you know any specific avenues and/or causes you're supporting, please feel free to share so people can see.
What about bottom-up, where you're not directly competing against established interests? Build support for a citizen referendum for LVT and other policies to encourage building dense housing. Fund campaigns to unseat politicians not supportive of these policies instead of bribing them.
Getting propositions on the California ballot seems like a reasonable way to go? If you have a lot of volunteers, they can go out and gather signatures instead of using paid workers, or alternatively you can spend money on gathering signatures if you prefer.
However, this is a collective-action problem so it doesn’t make sense to try to go it alone; you’d probably just fail to get on the ballot. It may make more sense to see what other people are doing and support them? How do you even find out about such things?