We’ll write you a will for free if you leave a gift to GiveWell’s top charities

by peter_hurford1 min read16th Oct 20156 comments

4

GiveWell
Personal Blog

Would you like to leave money in your will to GiveWell’s top rated charities at the time of your passing? If so, Charity Science will you help you write it for free.

To make it as easy as possible for you, we at Charity Science have made a simple form that takes as little as 5 minutes to complete. After that you come out with a ready made will. And don’t worry if you’re not sure what to put in it; it’s easy to change and you can always come back to it later. So give it a shot here. The default option should be to set it up just in case something terrible does happen, that way you always have something ready.

A few more reasons to take the time to write a will include:

  • Reducing the inheritance tax incurred - leaving money to charity being an excellent way to do so.

  • Making provisions for your children if you have any, for example by choosing who will take care of them and setting aside funds for this.

  • Making any other necessary provisions, such as for your pets, or your business, or other responsibilities that you have.

  • Specifying what sort of funeral you would like, which will spare your family from having to make the decision.

  • Naming your executors for your will (family members are a standard choice).


But most of all it’s because you have the incredible opportunity to do an epic amount of good.


You can set it up here. After that consider talking to your friends, parents and grandparents to see if they would be interested in doing the same. It’s really important you mention it because the average amount left to charities in a will is in the thousands of dollars so a few words may go a very long way.


If this doesn’t appeal to you then there are other things that you could do. You can always run a fundraiser for Christmas, your Birthday or any event you like.

GiveWell1
Personal Blog

4

6 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:19 PM
New Comment

I notice that I have a avoidance reaction for this. I think that is because this pattern-matches with something I have heard about religious organisations often: That they milk people when death is near. I'm not sure what to make of this. Is this prejudice altogether? Probably standard rationality advice applies, only double strong as you can't learn from (your own) errors here.

I’m not sure that most of the religious see themselves as ‘milking’ those who are close to the end. Broadly speaking, what appears to us (non-believers) as plainly visible is simply thought of as a service to those within that community. There are a few conceptual leaps to make getting to your point, some of which are a) these people are somewhat feeble mentally and b) that the campaign is targeting a vulnerable population. I would say that a reaction like that is no more than reflexive

I think many if not most don't think anything wrong with what they do. I assume this service usually fits well into the overall memeplex. Usually only people outside that memeplex interpret it thus.

I'd be interested in leaving a will to an existential risk related group, although not necessarily MIRI. The Future of Humanity Institute currently looks like one of the best options, although I haven't researched this exhaustively. (They get most of their funding from academic research grants, but more flexible donations allow them to focus on the activities they think are most important.)

My current thought is to download a will template from docracy.com and just update it every year or so until I settle on one organization. Most of those wills seem to be built around leaving money to family, so I'm not confident they are optimized for tax efficient charitable donations. Does anyone have any better ideas, or do I need to get researching on this one?

[-][anonymous]5y 1

Great offer.

Would you consider extending the offer to MIRI, Living Goods or Development Media International (for those unfamiliar: the first being the AI organisation that sponsors this website, the last two being 2 of GiveWell's standout charities?

Comprehensive, evidence-based toolkits for policy makers and planners on Improving Educational Quality through Interactive Radio Instruction exists. Development Media International is one of GiveWell's standout organisations and implements radio-based behaviour change health education to "save the greatest number of lives in the most cost effective way.

GiveWell's most compelling reason for not including Living Good's as one of their 4 recommended charities is room for more funding. However, the premise for the lack of room for more funding rested on the assumption that it would be funded by a big donor soon. There is no evidence to suggest this has taken place since GiveWell's analysis.

The size of Living Goods' funding gap for the next year is highly uncertain because major funders are considering supporting the program. If Living Goods raises enough funds to scale up the program studied with the RCT, it may allocate additional funds to programs with less of a track record.

I favour living goods since their approach doesn't disincentivise rational market behaviour and there are methodological issues re: the effectiveness of the 4 recommended GiveWell charities that are described elsewhere.

I favour DMI for complex reasons including the integrity of their frontier scientific methodology which I may elaborate upon at a later stage. They do their work very well but I still have concerns that it may be increasing the survivability of those who neglect somewhat easily researched solutions to everyday problems and therefore sustain unwellbeing in the long term.

Update: I have been doing some thinking about making a bequest, prompted by this offer. So, suddenly the urgency of donating feels less great to me, and dying with savings is suddenly valuable. When I think about how to maximise my savings, one thing that comes to mind is maximising my inheritence. My sister rents a house from my parents below market price. I feel like this is unjust, since it will take away from the some of my inheritence. She is a wealthy quant and just 'doesn't have the time or need' to change arrangements. I feel bad about this, like I'm being robbed or they are favouring her. At the same time, I'm not entitled to their money. This is stressful!

Would you consider extending the offer to MIRI, Living Goods or Development Media International (for those unfamiliar: the first being the AI organisation that sponsors this website, the last two being 2 of GiveWell's standout charities?

At the moment we would prefer to not extend the offer to MIRI. This is because we think it’s valuable to keep an organization fairly focused on doing a few things well and fundraising for MIRI currently falls out of Charity Science’s scope. It’s also legally dubious whether or not Charity Science can use its resources to influence money to groups not involved in alleviating poverty.

We are more than happy to extend the offer to Living Goods or Development Media International. We do recommend bequests to GiveWell’s top charities though because GiveWell’s fluidity and flexibility will allow their recommendations to change over time, which means that they’re an excellent choice to leave a bequest to. This is in contrast to another charity that may be effective now but may not be 30 years from now.