Ezra Klein’s article, Giving is personal. Make it political, in the Washington Post on donations to think tanks (rather than service delivery charities?). The argument goes that if you donate to an organisation with the potential to influence policies the effects on the general public may be ever broader and and deeper.
At their best, they act as force multipliers. If you donate money to a food bank, it can provide only as much food as your money can buy. If you donate it to a nonprofit that specializes in food policy issues, it can persuade legislators to pass a new program – or reform an existing one – that can do much more than any single food bank.
Klein sees donations to think tanks more like an investment -not dissimilar to the view held by the philanthropists that supported the liberal think tanks that took Obama to the White House
Charities that work to make the government’s policies better have a unique ability to take small investments and turn them into tremendous outcomes. If you’re looking for bang for your philanthropic buck, they’re the place to start.