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Earn & Give More for Animals

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This article provides a comprehensive guide on contributing to animal causes through a threefold approach: earning more, spending wisely, and giving generously. It advocates for a focus on long-term income growth rather than immediate spending reductions, offering practical steps for achieving financial stability. 

In the realm of charitable giving, there’s a need for strategic decisions, considering the varying impact of different charities. In order to make informed decisions, consider factors like a charity's track record, intervention strength, leadership quality, organisational culture, and cost-effectiveness.

There is the choice between contributing to funds or individual charities. Learn about the potential influence of effective giving through public sharing and the role of personal experiences in inspiring others to join the cause. This collective effort is about the animals and the positive impact individuals can collectively achieve through thoughtful, impactful giving.

Join us in making a difference for animals in need! Your ongoing support can provide a better life for animals. Consider donating a portion of your income to animal charities and help create a world where all animals are treated with kindness and compassion.

This approach to helping animals is quite simple: earn more, spend less and give more (within reasonable limits). 

Here are some ideas and practical steps to help you figure out how to do that:

Earning more 

Lack of altruism and concern for others can be a reason for a lot of people to be indifferent to giving. Another significant reason for not donating, or not donating large sums of money, is a lack of high income. And this is a fair point! Being cautious about giving money to charity when you are not sure about your long-term financial security is normal. Fortunately, we can solve this, at least in the long run, by taking practical steps to achieve a higher income and secure a better financial position.

Focusing on earning more has much more potential than focusing on cutting spending

When considering how to be more charitable, we tend to think about sparing money for giving rather than earning more. This seems reasonable for one-off donations since you can’t change your income overnight. But if you think about your potential to donate over a long period, this is not necessarily the case. If your conditions allow, you may earn more than you currently do. And if you accumulate more wealth, you can donate much more easily than you currently do. 

Focusing on cutting spending has a lot of limitations:

  1. A lot of spending is necessary: housing, healthcare, childcare, education, utilities, basic necessities, etc. 

  2. It is also reasonable to make savings to have some level of financial security. 

  3. It can be unpleasant and difficult to give up certain things you enjoy, especially if you have to deal with stressful tasks and relationships.

Earning more for animal causes, on the other hand, may also be difficult, but it certainly doesn’t “hurt”. Even modest increases in income can allow you to donate more while not affecting your welfare. If you can make your donations more frequent and more significant, this would allow you to donate much larger amounts than you could by cutting your spending. 

There is a high variance of pay between various sectors, firms and positions

One indicator of your income is of course the effort and the time you put in. But your income is also highly dependent on where you work and which position you have. Average and maximum salaries in certain fields, firms and positions may be many times higher than others. It might be a good idea to be informed about these differences and consider them alongside other preferences. 

For example, average and maximum salaries in finance and engineering are typically high. Big companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple, along with successful startups, offer great career opportunities with high earning potential, especially in the long run.

Certain competitive positions that require highly in-demand skills can also be financially rewarding. These may include management and leadership positions, as well as certain expert positions that are exceptionally important and rare.

Finally, the level of seniority is also an important factor for higher pay. As you get promotions, your salary increases. In all cases, investigating different career paths, taking action to look for and apply for better job opportunities, and negotiating with employers to receive fairer and better pay is crucial. A lot of people shy away from asking these questions and requesting a pay rise.

It is not uncommon for employees to feel uncomfortable and even guilty about this, even if they perform well at their work and deserve a higher salary. But this is counterproductive. Most employers would be happy to have these conversations more openly. And finally, if you do get a pay rise, you can use it to help more animals by donating more - so consider doing this at least for animals, if not for your own good.

Earning money through things you own 

Your salary is crucial, but the things you own can significantly boost your financial strength for donations. For this reason, it is reasonable to aim for making certain savings in time and allocate a fixed amount of your earnings to save for the future. These may include stock shares, real estate, or savings accounts that generate interest, etc.

If you can accumulate enough wealth to acquire these, and make good investment decisions, these may generate more value than your fixed income. This is especially true in the long term, because savings and investments compound over time. For this reason, it is crucial to be informed so that you make good investments with your savings. Of course, this does not mean you should follow every stock on the market and follow every world currency like a trader. But it makes sense to know the “basics” about what to do with your spare money and be careful about making sound decisions when buying a house or investing in an index fund, for example.

The reverse can also be true. A lot of people lose their hard-earned money because they make reckless decisions when it comes to investment. For instance, investing aggressively in expensive stocks, taking on extensive loans for specific real estate, or not having a well-diversified portfolio can pose risks against various uncertainties. So focusing solely on increasing or maintaining salary figures while not giving enough attention to what to do with savings can be a big mistake.

Aiming to earn more in the long run is usually more important

Given that animal liberation is going to take a long time, and animal advocacy organisations will need support over decades, it is reasonable to make long-term plans instead of just thinking about your income and donation budget for next month. Doing good is more of a marathon over the years, rather than something one-off. You can give as you earn more in the long run. 

There are many instances where taking a long-term strategy can change your perspective about using your time and energy. Being patient about things that can potentially increase your income in the future is a reasonable attitude. For instance, investing in education or skill development may require significant upfront costs (both money and time), but it holds the potential for long-term payoff. 

Entry salaries in some career paths in certain fields, firms or positions can also be unimpressive. But it is a good idea to judge these by their financial compensation over time as well. Jumping immediately to the highest-paying job at the entry level might not be the most rewarding one. This can also apply to entrepreneurship. Founding your own company may be less profitable than a job at first, but if successful it can generate much more wealth in the long run.

Spending less 

In order to donate, you also need to save some of the money you earned. But you don’t need to be extremely frugal to achieve this. Being smart about your spending can allow you to donate significant amounts. Also, cutting spending doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your happiness. Charitable giving is a great source of personal satisfaction, as well as a great way to do good. By taking reasonable steps, you can make comfortable savings by cutting unnecessary spending.

Prioritise big spending, not small expenses

It might seem extravagant to buy an expensive coffee, but in the bigger picture, it's just a small fraction of your overall spending. Unless coffee is a major part of your spending, having occasional treats won’t have a large impact on your budget.

The most important are major spending items in your budget or “groups” of spending items that determine your savings at the end of the month. Budget items like rent, mortgage, healthcare, childcare, education, or credit paybacks probably comprise a much larger portion of your budget. Other things like travel, eating out, or fashion spending can also become large items if there is a pattern that adds up. 

You might not realise which expenses impact your budget the most. Try tracking your purchases to identify where you spend more, then assess where you can make reasonable cuts. When done right, you can even make decent cuts without necessarily cutting from your personal welfare such as:

  • renting a cheaper flat or sharing costs with a roommate 

  • borrowing a more advantageous mortgage credit

  • reviewing your insurance with a better rate 

  • buying things that are on sale (if you were going to buy them anyway)

  • cancelling unused subscriptions 

  • following the market in general for better prices

Budgeting in advance and setting limits is usually a good rule of thumb

It might be hard to control your spending, depending on the situation. Many consumer goods can be tempting. And even when you control yourself, it might be exhausting to constantly think about what you should be doing and what counts as a reasonable purchase. 

Setting spending limits for different categories in your budget can help you stick to it without worrying about every small expense, allowing you to enjoy treats like your latte. Of course, you might need to adjust your budget from time to time—that’s fine. The idea here is that you are more likely to make wise financial decisions and stick to what you decided if you set certain limits beforehand. 

Aiming to spend less in the long run is usually more important 

Similar to the points explained above related to earnings, it is reasonable to make long-term plans instead of just thinking about your spending and donation budget for next month. Considering donations accumulate impact over time, prioritising your current spending might not be the best strategy in the long run.

There may be a lot of instances where spending more now can allow you to save more in the long run. For example, you should be mindful of the durability and quality of ordinary consumer goods. If you become obsessed with price and always buy the cheapest, you might run the risk of buying something that doesn’t meet your needs and requires additional spending. Buying or borrowing a mortgage to buy a house or a flat can also free you to pay for rent in the future. Finally, allocating some of your income to insurance can also save you much more in the long run.

Balancing frugality with your well-being

Being frugal is mostly seen as a virtue, which is partly true, since a lot of consumer spending is superficial and unnecessary. On the other hand, it is reasonable to spend some money for your own pleasure. Things like going on vacation, buying something nice, and having dinner outside are not in contradiction with caring for animals and doing good. 

Constantly obsessing over frugality can be very stressful, which can affect your well-being as well as your productivity. Certain items of spending can be important for your happiness, and cutting them might not be worth it. And if you happen to feel low due to frugality, you can run the risk of spending even more than before to get your mood better again.

You can think about this like committing to a healthy diet. Of course, almost all healthy diets require some form of calorie restriction. But calculating the calories of every single meal you have or never allowing yourself some treats is not sustainable. This kind of obsession probably leads to failure. More sustainable and successful forms of dieting allow some flexibility and room for personal pleasure. Committing to a reasonable modesty is similar. Tracking and controlling your overall spending is good, but overkill is neither necessary nor impactful in the long run. 

Giving more and giving more effectively

Donating even the slightest amount to any charity deserves appreciation. And a lot of people feel that this should be the only threshold for our consideration: just giving some money to some charity. But this is a short-sighted view. A lot of people can give more, more than what ordinary donors give. They can make a greater impact on more animals by investing time to find giving opportunities that go beyond typical charities. So the ideal threshold should be higher: giving more and giving more effectively. Here are some points that show how important it is to make strategic decisions about your giving. 

You can give much more than you think

We usually allocate a certain percentage of our budgets to certain groups of spending. Charitable donations for animal causes can also be an item in your budget with a certain percentage. A lot of good-intentioned people only make one-time donations that are quite low compared to their earnings and savings. This is not necessarily because they are ungenerous. A lot of people simply do not think about how much realistically they can donate. When one does the math, it is evident that donating 1% to 10% is a realistic range, depending on your earnings, savings and necessary spreading.

Making this kind of significant donation monthly or annually can easily be many times higher than typical one-off small donations.

Thinking about giving more than conventionally expected can feel uneasy at first, but if you make a solid budget and make a good plan, there is nothing weird about it. It simply makes sense to give more if you can give more, and your giving will impact more. It is also extremely empowering to take such action that can help so many animals. 

There is a high variation of impact between different charities

Just like there is a high variation of profitability between companies and their commercial successes, there is also a high variation of impact between different charities. This variation is even higher in the non-profit sector. 

Many charities can easily fail to have an impact, even when they have good intentions and put in a lot of hard work. Doing charitable work is typically complex and there are no clear feedback and accountability mechanisms in a lot of cases. The continuity of a charity depends less on its ability to make an impact than on having a stream of funding that allows its operations to resume. Unfortunately, the majority of donors do not put a lot of effort into investigating whether and how much charities make an impact. Consequently, there are probably a lot of charities that continue to raise and spare money but don’t make a significant difference. 

This does not mean charities are always ineffective. It just means you should not assume that any charity that has good intentions necessarily makes the large impact you wish to make. So it is important to be cautious when deciding where to donate. 

On the other hand, many charities succeed in making a huge impact or have a very strong chance to do so. While some of them may communicate this opportunity and convince people to support them, this is not always easy for many. Charity work primarily benefits others, not the donors themselves. This might lead to a lack of positive feedback mechanisms that channel resources to the most impactful opportunities.

For these reasons, it is crucial to make informed and reasoned decisions about where to donate in order to impact animals the most. Randomly choosing a couple of charities you are familiar with, or making prompt decisions with limited research and thinking, can result in very low impact at the end. 

Being informed about different types of animal advocacy and their track record of success is also very important. Different charities have different programs. And their program preference is typically the biggest driver of their success or failure. 

Imagine you are going to buy a phone or a car. You would spend a considerable amount of time and effort to make the choice that serves you best. This should not be different from deciding which charity to donate to. Just as you would not randomly buy a phone because you like the colour or simply buy a car because you like the advertisement, it is also unreasonable to pick a charity because it “feels good”. 

Savvy donors prioritise factors like a track record of success, strong interventions, capable leadership, organisational culture, and cost-effectiveness when choosing where to donate. The last one is particularly important because the impact of your donation is directly tied to this metric. 

By taking simple, meaningful steps, we can make a real difference. As explained above, there is a high variance of impact between charities. Your donations can be more than 100 times more impactful than typical donations if you make the right decisions about where to give your money. Join us in helping animals in need today! Take the pledge to donate and advocate for animal welfare.

Choosing between funds or charities for donations

Choosing where to donate can seem complex and challenging, especially if you lack the necessary skills, time, or expertise for in-depth research. If that is the case, you have the option to donate to “funds” that pool donations from numerous donors and are run by fund managers. They have expertise and experience in grant making, as well as the time to evaluate and weigh the funding needs of different animal charities. 

Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Funds was recently recommended as one of the best giving options by independent evaluators Giving What We Can. Recommended Charity Fund and Movement Grants Fund by Animal Charity Evaluators are also other promising options. By deferring to these funds, you can save a lot of time and avoid making big errors, especially if you don’t have much knowledge about different organisations and interventions in animal advocacy. 

On the other hand, if you trust your judgement and believe that you have the necessary level of information, you can also consider picking the organisations to donate yourself. This could be more appealing if you strongly support a specific charity or animal advocacy field that you believe is not well represented in funds' portfolios. 

Influencing others through effective giving

A lot of people believe that charitable giving should not be made public. And their concern is understandable: bragging about giving goes against the very idea of charity. That is a fair concern but this is solvable by being careful with your tone and style. 

Not sharing your charitable giving experience might mean missing the chance to inspire others who could start donating after hearing about your experience. We are all social beings and all of us are susceptible to what other people around us do. Unfortunately, charitable giving and effective charitable giving is a rare act currently. 

And precisely because it is currently seen as rare, it is practised rarely. For more people to practise this, they need to see other people doing it too. Publicly sharing about giving, especially effective giving, is crucial to raising awareness and establishing a social norm - a moral minimum that everyone should follow.

So publicly sharing your experience and thoughts on effective giving during your casual conversations with your friends and colleagues, or sharing these on your social media, has the potential to influence other people and can impact a lot more even if you are only using your message, not your money. 

This final step may sound too easy or too simple but it can literally multiply your impact. Imagine that only “one” other person who has a similar income level as you have, decides to give more and more effectively after listening to your account of effective giving. That would “double” your impact. And that person can also influence other people too, which can then multiply the impact. As you can see, this final step can deliver more impact than increasing your donation even by a significant amount since you can literally multiply your impact by inviting other people to join you. 

Note however that people mostly follow other people’s actions when they regard them highly. As mentioned above, crossing the line of arrogance and vanity would probably do more harm than good. So when being public about your effective giving, keep it modest and humble. 

What if each of us, who care about animals, donated a small portion of our income to support these organisations? Imagine the collective impact we could create, even if individually, it wouldn't significantly affect our finances. If only 100 people commit to donating just 10% of their income, they can fully fund an entire animal charity, making an astonishing impact for animals in need.

What truly matters are the animals who need our help and the actions we can take to support them. By taking simple, meaningful steps, we can make a real difference. Join us in helping animals in need today!

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