The Perfection of Generosity & The Feel Good Factor

Of the 6 Perfections, the perfection of generosity is perhaps the easiest to understand. That is, until you find out what is needed to make it a perfection!!   😉

‘Effective Altruism’ by Peter Singer

I watched a TED talk today called ‘Effective Altruism’ from Peter Singer about giving and particularly about giving wisely. Interestingly, he talks about giving in terms of return on investment. Whether that investment is what your dollar achieves, what your time achieves, or what your organs can achieve if you give them away. He was really looking at the value that we will add to the lives of others and looking at the cost associated with that value.

In a way I find it difficult to do this because it is asking me to say “the suffering of one person suffering is worth less that the suffering of fifty people”. Fortunately it is a matter of simple maths. Unfortunately, it is cold to those on the other side of the equation. At some stage a decision needs to made and acted upon.

At least those people will be benefit, and that is better than doing nothing at all. At least I am helping somebody.

Feel Good Factor

Some acts of generosity can see more grand or more carry more sentiment than others.

Like a birthday present, the ones that have been thoughtfully selected and carefully wrapped can be the most loved presents. In the same way, contributing your time and effort to a project can feel very worthwhile and lead to a richer experience, even if you have no skills in the area.

Like some cash stuffed into a birthday card or a generic gift, just giving money away can seem meaningless or thoughtless.

But what is the real outcome that we’re trying to achieve? Is it to feel good about the act of generosity or is it to actually benefit somebody? If we are trying to get the best return on our investment then the question becomes: what are the effective ways to benefit others?

Effective altruism: Peter Singer at TED2013

GiveWell: Real Change For Your Dollar