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Is charity bad allocation of resources?

Sometimes I feel charity is the equivalent of a bad allocation of resources.

Purely from a utilitarian point of view, it's not good to advance humanity because you move funds from richer places that produce more innovations to poorer places that use the money to consume rather than invest and create.

Richer places that invest might also eventually come up with solutions to eradicate all suffering from the earth -research on that seems to me the best use of charitable money one could make-.

And from a utilitarian-humanitarian point of view I'm not sure that most charitable works alleviate suffering in general.
I think a good chunk of charity might actually increase suffering.

Take for example what on paper seems like the best use of charity: feeding hungry children. Even if you feed hungry children a year, without an effective plan to reduce overpopulation you do little to address the world's hunger -plus the obvious fact that next year you still have the same issue-.
Another popular charity: giving money and feeding the homeless. In the case of homeless addicts -a good chunk of homeless-, it also does little to alleviate the root causes. And it might only extend drug addicts' lives and empowers them to commit more crimes-. Might sound bad to say, but to me, it seems purely the next logical step if you apply some second-order thinking.

Exceptions always apply of course and I'm sure there is plenty of charitable contributions that net-positive.

Ali Scarlett and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettMatthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I say all this with a caveat that I'm far from an experienced person in starting and managing charities.

I agree most charities don't really produce sustainable, long-term benefits.
I recall watching a documentary and some articles that dropping parcels, money & even building schools do not really help a city/country.

The wrong kind of charities may encourage people to virtue-signal as well.

The exception I can think of is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Recently this month Oct 2021, his work on malaria has been approved for children in Africa.

I think a lot of the best minds want financial rewards so the best innovations don't come from charities.

And I met a Machiavellian woman with her own charity who likes to praise down, shine up in the corporate world.
She won the Presidential Award for being charitable.
So charity can be a reputation shield for Machiavellis too.

With that being said, the best charities are not called charities in my opinion.
They are open-sourced projects with a few dedicated individuals monitoring the quality of crowd-sourced contributions.
Also a source of providing intrinsic motivation and direction to people's lives.


  • Wikipedia
    Why do so many people contribute to a free, open-sourced encyclopedia without getting paid?
  • freeCodeCamp
    Free course to train people to become full-stack software engineers
    The quality is very good in my opinion.
    I would pay for it.
    Depends on charitable donations to sustain the project.
  • Lichess (Not really charity catering to essential needs in my opinion)
    Fastest online chess server
    Completely free, open-sourced and no-ads
    Depends on contributions from donors and software developers
    So good that it can compete with (the number 1 business-oriented, online chess service)
  • ThePowerMoves
    A charity to a certain extent in my opinion with lots of free, available resources
    Correct me if I'm wrong. Don't want to give the wrong impression.
  • Linux
    The best operating system in my opinion.
    Thank god, it's open-sourced.
  • WordPress (open-sourced not the paid to clarify)
    Such a great tool to empower people to create low-cost websites.

As such, I am on the same page as you.
The goals of charity organisations should not be on spending time to raise & move money to poorer regions.
Spending time to raise & move money should be part and parcel of achieving the practical goals.

Charities should be managed by practical and project-oriented individuals.
They should have a relentless focus on seeing the practical results.

So I think we should have more of

  • Teaching children in Africa how to code and start online businesses

Less of

  • Donating money to feed children in Africa

I'm unsure about infrastructure though.
Should you kick start an underdeveloped city by building schools, roads, etc?
Or train the citizens to be architects, civil engineers, plumbers, etc?

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Yeah, not an expert either.

Just following logic and sharing to see -and hope- if anyone could prove it wrong.

DeMesquita makes a good case that much government donations also end up making things worse when they go to countries with highly corrupted leaders -and a good chunk of poor receiving countries have very corrupted leadership-.

I agree with you that there is a lot of "charitable" value in businesses that share and teach.
In many ways, doing most jobs well and ethically means giving value as much as a good charity does.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I worked in my country s largest non profit last year.  I found plenty of dedicated people on the operations side who genuinely seemed to care about the community.  On the management side it was full of weasels.  Horrible people who hid behind the orgs ideals and wasted a lot of donor money pushing their personal agendas.  Also a real talker culture.  If you could tell a good story the facts didn't matter.   I m thinking this is probably the same for all businesses that are marketing led.   I m a delivery guy so not a good fit for me. I delivered CRM and HR and event marketing systems in under a year then got out.  I won't work for a non profit again unless I m desperate.  So I think the value is case by case project by project.  I don't think it's as simple as charity = good or bad


Ali Scarlett has reacted to this post.
Ali Scarlett