Copenhagen Consensus

Confused’s post on motives behind charity giving, reminded me about one of the most analytical ways to think about charitable giving that I�ve ever heard of.

Bjorn Lomborg, a Scandinavian economist, became famous for his controversial book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, that challenged the notion that our ecology was at risk. He proposed that our environment was actually improving and that if there was real risk, people would adapt how they did things in order to continue to live on earth. He also proposed that giving money to climate change was like burning it.

As someone who believes that our climate has changed and that people need to sit up, take notice and do something about it, this was hard to hear.

But in 2005, I attended the TED conference. And I heard Bjorn speak. He was extraordinarily compelling. He has started a project called the Copenhagen Consensus. What the Copenhagen Consensus does is get top thinkers to figure out the charitable causes that can be best addressed with funding. That is, if you gave one dollar to climate control or one dollar to fighting communicable diseases, where would your money be more efficiently used and actually help solve the problem. The first year, he had economists participate and rank the problems. You can see the results here. In 2005, he had 24 UN ambassadors do the ranking. It is quite interesting.

If you are someone who cares about your money actually helping to solve a problem, check out the website to learn about where it would be most compellingly used. It is not the only way to think about charitable contributions, but it is the most analytical way to do so.