Giving Games Project Update

Giving Games Project Update

The Life You Can Save (TLYCS) is delighted to welcome Kathryn Mecrow-Flynn to our team. Kathryn is our first Giving Games (GGs) hire and will run numerous philanthropy education workshops in the Washington, D.C. area with the aim of honing and tailoring GG content to a range of audiences, and systematizing our impact monitoring.

What are Giving Games?

GGs are versatile educational tools which can be used in a number of contexts. Most take the form of 60-90 minute workshops. To begin, participants hear one-sentence pitches for several pre-selected charities and cast a preliminary vote. The facilitator then introduces our core focus concepts and delves into the successes and operational challenges of each of the featured charities. The participants engage in structured discussion and reflect on how their decision may have changed faced with further information, culminating in a decision on which charity will receive the money at stake.

GGs have a proven track record of effectively engaging a range of audiences in the core ideas around high impact philanthropy and inspiring participants to work towards developing solutions to complex but solvable global problems.

The Giving Games Project is a natural fit with TLYCS's mission to change the culture of giving in affluent countries and direct funds to highly impactful charities focused on solving the world's most important problems. Through employing “experiential philanthropy,” participants learn by doing, giving away real money to charities engaging in critically important work. Facilitators frame the opportunity to give to charity as the potential to invest in the work of impactful organizations and maximize the impact per dollar donated. By presenting a number of nonprofits doing highly effective work, and asking participants to pick one, the audience is introduced to the concept of Opportunity Cost: the loss of the opportunity to invest in the charity that isn’t awarded the evening’s donation pot. This highlights the need for participants to be intentional, informed, and impactful in their giving, using evidence of a charity’s impact per dollar donated to inform where they can strategically give.

What do we hope to accomplish in Washington, D.C.?

We intend to use our increased organizational capacity to run Giving Games along the East Coast during 2019 and hone our materials and systems. In the next year, we want to be able to cause and evidence changes in attitudes towards effective giving and have people take actions based upon those attitude shifts, like donating effectively.

Our program in Washington, D.C. is our first experiment with a GG being based in one geographic location, developing a map of contacts, and building a track record of successful engagement with different Giving Games hosts, sponsors and collaborators. By building a network of trained facilitators, we will develop standardized and replicable good practice at each stage of the Giving Game process.

In close collaboration with our partners, our GG team will experiment with how GGs can be tailored to optimise for effective facilitation in a variety of contexts and best achieve the game objectives. For example, what we aim to achieve by facilitating a Giving Game with a top law firm might be different from why we might engage a university group focused on building women’s leadership in international development initiatives. We hope to work out what works best in different environments and tailor accordingly.

What can you do to help?

I have recently moved to DC, where I will be based. My background is in international development fieldwork, which I was engaged in before I started working in EA organizations three years ago, most recently as head of UK operations for the Centre for Effective Altruism. I have run Giving Games with EA groups in York, Cambridge, Oxford, London School of Economics (LSE) and University College London (UCL). In survey data from those events, participants provided an average score of 4.46 out of 5 on whether they would recommend Giving Games to a friend.

I would love to hear from you if you have an audience (especially one in the DC area) who would benefit from a fun and participatory introduction to effective giving or are a donor wishing to sponsor Giving Games. We work with a wide range of individuals, groups and businesses, from educators and student groups to corporations and law firms. You can reach me at

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Giving Games

Giving Games is a project of The Life You Can Save focused upon seeding High Impact Philanthropy through experiential philanthropy education.

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