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.