Is ‘effective altruism’ actually effective?

Effective altruism is the latest in a long list of neologisms – strategic philanthropy, philanthrocapitalism, venture philanthropy, philanthropreneurialism – that have been applied to 21st-century approaches to charity, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. This talk explores the roots and social implications of these intersecting models, contrasting their parallels and differences, as well as how they differ from earlier approaches to philanthropy during the Gilded Age. I suggest that while political economists are increasingly resuscitating and embracing a displaced emphasis on macro approaches to wealth inequality – as characterized by the work of Piketty, Galbraith and others – the effective altruism turn is largely marked by micro-level investigations, a focus that undermines the critical potential of the ‘new’ philanthropy.