[Question] Money isn’t real. When you donate money to a charity, how does it actually help?

Money is a shared illusion. Neither paper, gold, nor electron patterns can stop a mosquito or feed a hungry person directly. Transfer of money is a temporary, low friction way to motivate unidentified strangers to preform an action.

So what’s the mechanism by which monetary charity works? Are we “just” exploiting a comparative advantage in dollar-gathering in order to force the people on the ground to behave the way we prefer? Do we have any evidence that it can create channels of behavior that are self-sustaining?

On small (and not-so-small, but not universal) margins, money is a fine way to change some behaviors. I’m wondering if there are ways to shift the equilibria at the core rather than the margin.