Economist Tyler Cowen discusses this article and gives another argument for giving to only one charity:
Even the way we choose to dole out cash betrays our true motives. Someone with $100 to give away and a world full of worthy causes should choose the worthiest and write the check. We don't. Instead, we give $5 for a LiveStrong bracelet, pledge $25 to Save the Children, another $25 to AIDS research, and so on. But $25 is not going to find a cure for AIDS. Either it's the best cause and deserves the entire $100, or it's not and some other cause does. The scattershot approach simply proves that we're more interested in feeling good than doing good.
Many people are unconvinced by this argument—which I owe to Steven Landsburg—because they are used to diversifying their financial investments (a bit of Google stock and a bit of Exxon, too) and varying their choices (vanilla ice cream AND bananas). But those instincts are selfish: They are not intended to benefit both Google and Exxon, nor both the ice-cream company and the banana growers. With charity, the logic is different, and a truly selfless donor would bite the bullet and put his entire donation behind one cause. That we find that so hard to imagine is just one more indication of how hard it is for us to think ourselves into a truly selfless view of the world.
None of this is to say that these contributions are worthless or economically insignificant. Just don't get too starry-eyed about the motives behind them.
I agree with Harford's point in a different regard. The fixed costs of processing a donation are relatively high, if only because the charity will send further letters asking for more money. For that reason it may be better to focus our giving on a single charity.What do you think? If you had $1,000 to give, what strategy would yield the biggest impact?
(Source: Marginal Revolution)