Gateway Giving
Gateway Giving
Dec 10, 2021
#22 - An Introduction To Effective Altruism - Harley Monk of Giving Alpha
Play • 50 min

By: David M. Foster, CFP®, CAP®

Hello, listeners, and welcome to the 22nd episode of the Gateway Giving Podcast!

My guest today is Harley Monk. Harley is the Founder and Executive Director of Giving Alpha, a community of like-minded finance professionals that have committed to improving the world by donating to the most evidence-based, impactful interventions.

Although Harley and I do spend some time discussing his organization, today’s episode primarily serves as an introduction to the “Effective Altruism” movement, a movement and a concept that is very near and dear to my heart.

When I first decided a few years ago to devote my financial planning practice to working with philanthropists, one of the catalysts for that shift was a book I read called “The Life You Can Save” by a philosopher named Peter Singer. That book, originally published in 2009, kickstarted what is now known as the “Effective Altruism” movement. That movement makes, essentially, two arguments:

  1. If you live in the developed world (The U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Australia, Japan, etc.), then your income is likely at least in the top 10% globally, and very possibly in the top 1%. Therefore, you have a moral obligation to donate some of your income to help others who didn’t have the good fortune of being born into one of those rich countries.
  2. You should make your donations based on reason and evidence, not geography and sentiment.

As you can imagine, telling people, particularly Americans, that they’re being selfish by hoarding their money and that when they do give, they’re probably doing it wrong, or at least inefficiently, sparks a visceral reaction among many. To some degree I had that same reaction when I was first introduced to these concepts, but I encourage you to keep an open mind before you dismiss them.

One of the primary reasons people tend to list for either not giving or not giving more money to charity is because they are concerned that their donations won’t have the intended impact. If that describes you, then giving through the lens of “Effective Altruism” can help you to be confident that your good intentions are having real impact.

As always, if you have any questions, requests, or suggestions for people or organizations for me to interview, you can email me at Now, without further ado, here is my interview with Harley!


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