Mission: To help people understand how they give, and how their giving decisions compare to the decisions made by others.

Background: There are over one million registered charities in the United States. The  game is designed to provide game players-cum-charity supporters with a frame they can use to make better giving decisions. Created by Iyad Rahwan and Edmond Awad of the  in collaboration with (TLYCS), a nonprofit organization founded by Australian moral philosopher and effective altruism proponent Peter Singer, the game presents players with a hypothetical $1,000 to spend on donations to various causes and asks them to "maximize" the impact of their donations. The game's creators are interested in showing people how their experiences and biases influence their giving decisions, as well as how, by overcoming their impulses and doing a little research, they can become more "effective" givers — as defined, in classic utilitarian terms, as doing the most good for the greatest number of people.

Outstanding Web Features: Players of the game start with a hypothetical $1,000 and work their way through a series of ten choice sets, $100 at a time, involving different charities, causes, and beneficiary groups. Variables involved in each decision are designed to help players better understand the effectiveness of their donation choices while revealing certain biases they may possess when it comes to giving. Rawan, head of the Media Lab's  says, "This game is about life-saving charities, through different means: clean water, nutritious meals, medication, and assault victim support. We take the position that saving the greatest number of lives is the right thing to do, regardless of where they are or how you're saving them. Every life is the same and saving more lives is the ideal." Putting its money where its mouth is, TLYCS also is providing $1,000 in real money to two players of the game, selected at random, to put toward their actual game decisions — or, if they so choose, to keep the cash or give it to a relative.

Director, Scalable Cooperation Group, MIT Media Lab: Iyad Rahwan
Main Office:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
75 Amherst Street, E14-474G
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
Location: international; national


January 3, 2019