MINI PAPER: Charity Proposal

MINI PAPER: Charity Proposal

MINI PAPER: Charity Proposal                                                                           DUE BY 11 AM Thurs 9/22


The goal of this assignment is to research a charitable organization and defend it as the morally best place to donate $200. Dr. Liberman is going to put up $200 of her own money. In class on Thursday 9/22, you’ll share your research with your discussion groups. We’ll deliberate and then vote about where to donate the money.


–          This is worth 5% of your overall course grade.

o   Because this essential to help you prepare to participate in our class activity, no late mini-papers will be accepted without (documented) special circumstances (e.g., serious illness or family emergencies).


INSTRUCTIONS: Write an essay of 300 – 500 words that addresses the following points:


1.      Decide what kind of organization you want to support and explain why.

a.      For example, do you want to support an international EA poverty relief organization? A DFW-based organization? A cause connected to SMU? A group that you have worked with or that you have a strong personal connection to? A local mutual aid group? Etc.

b.      Why do you think this type of organization is worth supporting?


2.      Look into various options, and choose a specific charitable organization. Explain what this organization does and why you think it is valuable.

a.      Some suggested starting points:

                                                              i.      If you’re interested in EA, check out and

                                                            ii.      If you’re interested in mutual aid, check out

                                                          iii.      If you want to look into a charity’s financials, look at

b.      Include support for your claims (e.g., hyperlinks websites, news articles, social media pages, interviews, etc. you consult). Your support does not have to be peer-reviewed academic articles (and probably won’t be).


3.      Consider why someone else might disagree with you or disapprove of your choice of charity, and explain what they might say.

a.      This is raising an objection to your choice. You can introduce this by saying “A possible objection to my claim that X is the best place to donate is …”

b.      Do your best to come up with a charitable objection. In other words, don’t pick something really silly or that is a total non-starter.


4.      Defend yourself against this objection: why is your charity still a good one to support? How could you push back against this disapproval or criticism of your charity?

a.      Remember the four strategies for responding to an objection (from the utilitarianism lesson). Identify the strategy that you are using (are you biting the bullet, or explaining why the objection doesn’t apply?)


5.      KEY: At some point in your paper, you must specifically connect your discussion to one of the course readings about effective altruism or its critics: either quote it, or engage with a specific point made by an author (and specify which author).

a.      You do not need to include a bibliography citation for the course reading, but be sure to cite the author and page number (as a footnote or in-text citation).


6.      Include a word count at the end of your paper.


GRADING: You will not be assessed on which charity you choose. Rather, you’ll receive full credit for:

–          Carefully following all instructions of this prompt (including engaging with a course reading and putting a word count)

–          Making reasonable claims about why your charity is valuable

–          Bringing up a decent objection

–          Offering a good reply

o   Your objection/reply don’t have to be the best ever to get full credit! They just need to make sense.



–          You don’t need an elaborate introduction or conclusion.

o   Just jump right in and start with something like “I think that we should donate to an X type organization because ….”

–          Don’t make your entire essay one paragraph.

o   Start a new paragraph whenever you start a new idea (it’s easier to read more short paragraphs than one massive paragraph).

–          All work must be completely your own!

o   Do not copy-paste from anywhere; make sure all direct quotes have quotation marks and a citation; do not turn in work written by someone else.