Doing Good Better

A book about Effective Altruism by William MacAskill

"A data nerd after my own heart."

Bill Gates

Doing Good Better book cover

A book about how to really make a difference, from a co-founder of the effective altruism movement.

All of the author's profits will be donated to some of the world's most effective charities.

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About the Book

Do you care about making the world a better place? Perhaps you buy ethical products, donate to charity or volunteer your time in the name of doing good. But how often do you know what impact you really have?

William MacAskill, Research Fellow at Cambridge University, has spent the last five years developing the philosophy of effective altruism, which applies data and scientific reasoning to the normally sentimental world of doing good. In the course of his research he’s come to the remarkable conclusions that most ways of making a difference achieve little, but that, by targeting our efforts on the most effective causes, we each have an enormous power to make the world a better place.

In Doing Good Better, MacAskill introduces the principles underlying effective altruism and sets out a practical guide to increasing your impact through your charity, volunteering, purchases and choice of cause. On a whistle-stop tour of the key issues facing a would-be do-gooder, he’ll answer questions like:

  • Why are some charities far more effective than others?
  • How can cosmetic surgeons do more good than charity workers?
  • Does boycotting sweatshops make things better or worse for the global poor?

Through its new approach and challenging conclusions, Doing Good Better is set to spark off a global debate on what it really means to make a difference.

Praise for Doing Good Better

Doing Good Better is a superb achievement. Will MacAskill, a leader of the effective altruism movement, and a rising star in philosophy, now displays his talent for telling stories that pack a punch. This must-read book will lead people to change their careers, their lives, and the world, for the better.

Peter Singer

William MacAskill shows that we can make a surprisingly large life-changing difference to those in disadvantaged parts of the world — provided that our altruistic impulses are intelligently channelled. This fascinating and clearly-written book deserves wide readership: it can in itself do great good if its message is heeded.

Sir Martin Rees

"[MacAskill] provides a straightforward guide to help anyone make the largest possible difference in the lives of others...a manual for how to harness your generosity as effectively as possible — on a scale both small and large."

Sue Desmond-Hellman, MD, MPH

Effective altruism — efforts that actually help people rather than making you feel good or helping you show off — is one of the great new ideas of the 21st century. Doing Good Better is the definitive guide to this exciting new movement.

Steven Pinker

"I found MacAskill’s ideas on Effective Altruism fascinating and worthy of argument."

Rajesh Mirchandani

Will has a rare combination of gifts — the intelligence to develop new ideas, the clarity to convey them to a wider audience, and the motivation to bring them to life in the real world. Will has motivated a small army of the most talented young people to dedicate their lives to doing good, and it's been my pleasure to get to know them. Humanity faces some big challenges in the 21st century, and I'm glad the effective altruism movement exists to tackle them."

Eric Drexler

"Many of the concepts laid out in Doing Good Better--such as counterfactuals, diminishing marginal utility, and fat tail distributions--will be familiar to economists. What is unusual is to see these tools used to develop a practical guide on how to live an ethical life. MacAskill doesn’t tell you what choices to make; instead he sets out a simple framework for how to think through decisions."

Dr. Rachel Glennerster

"Beautifully written and extremely smart. Doing Good Better should be required reading for anyone interested in making the world better."

Steven Levitt

About the Author

William MacAskill author portrait

William MacAskill is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Oxford University and the cofounder of the non-profits Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours. These non-profits have raised over $400 million in lifetime pledged donations to charity and helped to spark the effective altruism movement. He is a contributor to Quartz, the online business magazine of The Atlantic, and he and his organisations have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR and TED, among other media outlets. He lives in Oxford, England.