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Guide to Giving

Even the wealthiest government, business, or individual has limited resources. A dollar spent in one place cannot be spent elsewhere. When we say that we want to do everything, we are deceiving ourselves – because that is not what happens in practice. A few big issues get the most air-time, attention, and money.

Mankind’s lot has improved in many measurable ways. In 1900 we lived for an average of 30 years; today we live for nearly 69. We lead healthier, more prosperous lives than we ever have before. This  does  not,  however,  mean  that  everything  is good  enough.

Although in many areas we are on the right track, too  often  today  scarce  resources  are  spent  responding ineffectively  to a  few  big  issues  that  attract  celebrity attention and devour much of the media’s limited interest. We hear relatively little about many major global problems that  have  reasonably  cheap  solutions.  Despite  our progress,  today,  one  billion  people  lack  clean  drinking water. Two billion lack sanitation. Three billion lack basic micronutrients. One quarter of all deaths this year will be caused by infectious diseases that we could easily combat. 

The think-tank the Copenhagen Consensus Center, based in Denmark, works to ensure that basic principles of economics are used to improve the allocation of aid and development money. We want to help ensure that progress in tackling global challenges  is  swift.  We  work  with  academics  and Nobel Laureate economists to provide sound information for governments, philanthropists, and NGOs. Fundamentally, the Center promotes the idea that careful use of economic science can help ensure that we achieve the most good for people and the planet.

The  Copenhagen  Consensus  Center  is  often  asked  by individuals: how can I make personal donations in line with the Center’s research findings? 

We commission research  that  analyzes  the  optimal  ways  to  combat  the biggest problems facing the world. What we advocate – prioritization – is not easy. It is much easier to declare that we want to tackle every major world problem. Unfortunately, doing so is just a dream. Even the wealthiest government or business has limited resources. A  dollar  spent  in  one  place  cannot  be  spent  elsewhere. When  we  say  that  we  want  to  do  everything,  we  are deceiving ourselves – because that is not what happens in practice. A few big issues get the most air-time, attention, and money.  

Our steadfast belief is that in a world fraught with competing causes for attention, we need to direct more resources to the areas where we could achieve the most. Our Center’s flagship  projects  are  our  four-yearly  analyses  of  global challenges. The first was held in 2004, and prompted The Economist  to  declare  that  the  Copenhagen  Consensus was  “an  outstanding,  visionary  idea”.  The  most  recent Copenhagen Consensus was held in 2008, and produced  pioneering economic research that will help shape policy debate and discussion for many years to come.

The Giving Guide attempts to provide an answer to that question, and to make our economic  research  accessible  for  many more people. 


  • Guide to Giving