Fighting Global Trauma with Effective Altruism

Here, we reflect on the efforts that we have made to combat global trauma by embracing effective altruism as philosophy for giving back.

BLOG POST Fighting Global Trauma with Effective Altruism

As Easy EMDR continues to grow and learn, we believe that reflecting on our efforts is a critical part of improving ourselves over time. Our mission is to reduce trauma in whatever form we may find it, and we feel incredibly fortunate to be able to give thousands of therapists the tools they need to deliver quality treatment to their clients. However, another crucial piece of our approach to fighting trauma is our commitment to give back by donating 10% of all profits to effective charities.

Here, we reflect on the efforts that we have made to combat global trauma by embracing effective altruism as philosophy for giving back.

What is Effective Altruism?

Our efforts to give back have been deeply inspired by the philosophy of effective altruism, or the practice of maximizing the amount of good we can do through our actions, including our donations and careers. The principles of effective altruism help us to recognise the importance of generosity and the incredible opportunity we have to help others. Donating effectively allows us to ensure that as many others are helped as possible for every dollar donated.

So why the emphasis on donating effectively? While we believe that giving of any kind is a wonderful thing, we must consider the fact that the most effective charities can be up to 1000x better at meeting their goals than the least effective, meaning that the decision of where to give is an important one. Considered this way, a single dollar donated to an effective charity achieves roughly the same impact as hundreds of dollars donated to a less effective charity.

In this video, Luke Freeman of Giving What We Can explains the importance of cost-effective giving and how effective altruism can help us make the positive effects of our actions reach further.

Our Commitments

In 2020, Easy EMDR became among the first organizations to take the Giving What We Can company pledge, a commitment to donate 10% of all profits to effective charities. In doing this, we doubled our prior commitment to donate 5% of profits, and joined a thriving community of people who are hard at work to identify and resolve some of the world’s most trauma-inflicting (and preventable) problems. This has allowed us to take action on a diverse range of problems — since taking the GWWC pledge, we have funded everything from the Against Malaria Foundation to GiveDirectly’s basic income trials.

We are pleased to report that 2 years after taking the pledge, our team feels it has been a resounding success. More than ever, we believe that this is an incredible way for companies to get organized about making a difference. The Giving What We Can team is brimming with expertise on the subject and offers resources and personal direction on the best causes to support. As a result, giving back has never been simpler, and we confidently recommend their pledge to any organization looking to do some good.

The Organizational Benefits of Giving Back

When I speak with other founders about making a commitment like this, they often have very similar reactions. While most instantly recognize the moral value that commitments like this hold, they also have some questions. Questions like: isn’t this risky? What if something goes wrong and that 10% could have made the difference in allowing your organization to reach its full potential? First, let’s note that it’s absolutely true that stability is important, as donating less money consistently over a long stretch of time is usually better than donating a lot for a short period of time. However, our experience has been such that while we understand these concerns, we feel that they overlook some of the benefits that giving policies can have on organizations.

In fact, Easy EMDR has continued to grow not in spite of, but partially because of our commitments to give back effectively. Given the choice, people prefer to support organizations that are attempting to do good in the world over those that are narrowly focused on maximizing their own earnings. If your audience believes in what you are fighting for, they are more likely to feel connected with your mission, use your organization, and refer it to others. This creates a tendency for your organization to spread by word of mouth more effectively, and create a loyal audience that sees the value in not just your product, but in how you react to success by helping others.

Another frequently overlooked benefit is team morale. In order for a team to operate most effectively, everyone on that team must understand why it’s important that the goal be accomplished. Giving policies provide a strong motivation to do excellent work, as this work is connected with addressing the issues that impact us all. It’s a powerful way to extend the mission of your organization by working towards the reduction of unnecessary suffering and trauma.

In Conclusion

The Easy EMDR team feels that effective altruism, and specifically the approach advocated by Giving What We Can, has been a great way for us to pursue our goal of fighting global trauma without needing to compromise our focus on building great tools for EMDR therapists and their clients. The pledge system, combined with the excellent resources offered by Giving What We Can, has allowed us to effortlessly contribute to some of the most effective charities on the planet without having to get bogged down in a lengthy research phase. We feel that these first two years of giving are just the start of a long and wonderful journey, and we can’t wait to continue giving what we can.

If you or your organization feels that you want to get involved and start giving back, you can take the pledge here. You can also ask our team questions about our experience with the pledge on our contact page.

Zachary Jordan

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