Best Charities vs. Top Charities

Best Charities vs. Top Charities

In the spirit of transparency, I feel it is important to explain why we have started using the phrase “Best Charities” in places we think it will help people find us, rather than “Top Charities”, as we have previously done. It turns out that most people search for “Best Charities” when looking on Google to discover where to donate. This is similar to how we all may search for “Best Thai restaurant” when we go to a new city even though we know it will not be proven to be the “best.” Thus, in keeping with our mission of exposing as many people as possible to highly effective nonprofits that deliver the most bang for one’s buck, we want to use language that maximizes people’s chances of finding The Life You Can Save.

In fact, despite taking advantage of great evaluators like GiveWell and Impact Matters, we can’t actually know whether our recommended nonprofits are “the best.” What we do know is that all of the organizations we recommend offer great opportunities to fight the devastating effects of extreme poverty — unnecessary suffering, premature death, and constraints on economic advancement.

While I am on the topic of word choice, I would like to explain that we similarly use the word “charity” in our headings instead of the preferable terms “nonprofit organization” or “NGO” (non-governmental organization), because Google searchers look for “charities” more often than “nonprofits”. We prefer avoiding use of the term “charity” because of its paternalistic connotation that harkens back to colonialism and misguided, and even offensive, efforts to “take up the white man’s burden.” We have been phasing it out of most of our content, but because our priority is to do the “most good we can do,” we feel this compromise of using the term “charity” selectively is one worth making. However, we hope over time to completely move ourselves and our followers away from such terminology and to play a role in a cultural shift in this regard.

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About the author:

Charles Bresler

Co-founder, Board Member

After earning a PhD in Social and Clinical Psychology, Charlie Bresler became director of behavioral medicine for The California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno (CSPP-F), where he was a full-time professor and founder of a teaching clinic for anxiety & stress disorders. In 1993, he was recruited by The Men’s Wearhouse, where he went on to be head of human resources, stores, marketing, and, ultimately, president. He stepped down in 2008 to fulfill his long-standing desire to work directly on social and economic issues, not too long after he read Peter Singer’s book, The Life You Can Save. Catalyzed by the concept, Charlie reached out to Peter and proposed combining Peter’s theory with the formation of a nonprofit to advance Peter’s ideas and to raise money for high-impact, cost-effective organizations. Together, they founded The Life You Can Save, where Charlie took on all organizational operations as executive director until 2024. He was supported in this work and in his financial support for the organization by his wife Diana, a family physician, and executed the role pro bono.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.