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

After earning a PhD in Social and Clinical Psychology from Clark University, Charlie 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 treating anxiety & stress disorders. He was recruited to The Men’s Wearhouse where he became head of human resources, stores, and marketing and ultimately President. He stepped down in order to fulfil his long-standing desire to work directly on social and economic issues, especially wealth inequality. In 2013, Charlie became volunteer Executive Director of The Life You Can Save, a non-profit dedicated to reducing extreme poverty and its devastating effects on over 700 million people globally. Through his financial support and leadership, Charlie has helped TLYCS’s Founder, Peter Singer, develop the organization from the ground up. Charlie lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington with his wife Diana, a family physician, who partners in supporting The Life You Can Save. He welcomes discussion and questions at

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