An upper bound on the loss incured by waiting another year before you donate your savings to an organization is the interest they would have to pay on a loan of your saving’s size in that time. If you estimate the chance that you will regret your choice of donation target in a year highly enough, that means waiting may be prudent. Just a thought.
(The cost might be increased by their reduced capacity for planning with the budget provided by you in mind; but with enough people acting like you, the impact of this factor should disappear in the law of large numbers)
Certainly that is an important point to consider. I could always place funds in a donor advised fund for now. However, if an organization that I donated to thought the funds would be best spent later, they could invest the funds. Considering this, my current thinking is that I should donate to an organization if they share the goal of reducing existential risk and I think they would be better at deciding on the best course of action than I would. Considering I am not currently an expert in areas which would prove useful to reducing existential risk, I’m leaning towards donating. Does this seem like a sensible course of action?
In practice, charities don’t really invest excess money or take out loans to spend money sooner. I’m not sure why. Possible explanations:
No one will lend much to charities, because they don’t have much collateral and their income expectations are so uncertain. Or this leads to very high interest rates.
Investing money instead of spending it looks bad and is visible externally through things like the US Form 990.
You’re required to spend at least X% of the money that comes in each year.
If you take a loan, having already spent the money makes it harder to fundraise. People want to pay for things to happen.
Investing extra money signals that you don’t have room for more funding and so should get less money in the future.
Regardless, if you’re thinking that your decision doesn’t matter because the recipient can just do X or Y, and it turns out X and Y aren’t really options for them, then your decision does still matter.
So I pressed the icon that looked like “Delete” and it just struck the text through. Great.