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Session 01 - Part 2

Differences in Impact

“We now see the new order of integration emerging on the horizon. … We must rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns, with a broader concern for all humanity. You see, this new world is a world of geographical togetherness.” —Martin Luther King, Jr. (1956)

Required materials

Comparing charities: How big is the difference? (6mins)

Imagine you had $100 to spend to help improve school attendance of school children in low-income countries. How many additional years of school could that buy?


ITN framework for comparing global problems in terms of expected impact (23mins)

Importance, Tractability and Neglectness, How these three factors should be considered if we want to help solve problems.


Marginal Impact (5mins)

People love joining large important movements – what’s more exciting than being part of something that changed the world? But if you’re wondering how you can do the most good, relying on how impactful a project is as a whole may be deeply flawed.


Fermi Estimate (video 4mins)

Fermi estimates, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, are a problem-solving technique used to make rough, approximate calculations by using logical reasoning and readily available information. 


Fermi estimation exercise - Seabirds, sea mammals kill by marine plastic pollution vs catch of fish (2mins)

.So how big is the difference? 50%, 200% 2000%....?


Global economic inequality (7mins)

How much does a person’s home country matter for where they are in today’s global income distribution?


GiveWell's "Giving 101 guide" (1min)

.GiveWell search for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. Their goal is to produce the world's top research on where to give. Free, for everyone. Here are a few principles they recommend to keep in mind when it comes to donation.


Exercise for 'Differences in Impact' (30mins)

A three-part exercise to practice making estimations and personal judgements before making donation decisions.

More to explore

Givewell and Open Philanthropy

GiveWell and Open Philanthropy are sister organizations in the effective altruism community. Both seek to identify outstanding giving opportunities, but they use different criteria and processes.

GiveWell has an emphasis on evidence-backed organizations within the global health and wellbeing space, while Open Philanthropy also supports high-risk, high-reward work, as well as work that could take a long time to pay off, in a variety of cause areas. We think this illustrates interesting methodological differences between attempts to answer the question “How can we do the most good?”.


Cost-effectiveness methodology


Mental health rather than physical health?


Other new strategies for improving human wellbeing


Effective aid


Criticisms of the use of cost-effectiveness estimates

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