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How to Be Great at Doing Good: Why Results Are What Count and How Smart Charity Can Change the World

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Get ready to question everything you've been told about charity, and to find out how you can truly succeed at making the world a better place.

Many of us donate to charitable causes, and millions more work or volunteer for non-profit organizations. Yet virtually none of us have been taught what it means to succeed at doing good, let alone how to do so. In short, we've never
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 27th 2015 by Jossey-Bass (first published March 31st 2015)
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Jason Pettus
Jan 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
For what it's worth, I went into Nick Cooney's How To Be Great At Doing Good really wanting to like it; it's not only a passionate argument for why all of us should be more regular contributors of time and money to charities, but also a practical guide to figuring out which of two competing charities is more worth our time and money, a crucial part of philanthropy that I feel is missing in most people's lives. But my God, talk about the most egregious example I've ever seen of book-padding -- th ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
Oh. My. God. I honestly believe that this was a 750-word blog post that the author turned into a 272-page book. There were about three useful points made here, which would have been an interesting blog read. Unfortunately, the author seems to believe that anything worth saying is worth saying at least 48 times. Seriously. Why use just one succinct example, when three or five almost identical examples can fill up more pages? This read was mind-numbingly repetitive and at times patronizing. It als ...more
Nick Cooney
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Well I wrote it so of course I have to give it 5 stars :) But I think you will really love it, this is a good one! You can visit http://www.NickCooney.com to learn more and order a signed copy directly from the author (me). ...more
Daniel Hageman
A bit odd that Cooney could get through this book without directly mentioning Effective Altruism, especially given his emphasis on GiveWell and a variety of the top recommended charities. Aside from lacking a few valuable resources, though, this could be a great primer for the general public who might be interested in this space.
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read Doing Good Better or The Most Good You Can Do instead, this book really does not compare favorably. Even though it is shorter than both MacAskill and Singer's books, the content still doesn't quite fill out the pages, with annoying repetition both of phrases from previous paragraphs and verbose summaries of points made in earlier chapters.

The preface tells the story of Schindler's regret of not having saved more jews from the Nazis, that "I could have got more out." The "get more out" quote
Sarah Brillinger
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an important read for everyone and I wish they taught this kind of common sense in school. I found the messaging in the book to be a little repetitive but maybe some people need to hear it over and over. ;)
Aaron Gertler
Sep 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm a very committed effective altruist, and I think that Nick Cooney and I hold very similar beliefs. I enjoyed another of his books, "Change of Heart", almost without reservation. When this book is good, it is very good. I've saved many quotes for my commonplace book, and if I ever meet the author, I'll thank him profusely for the inspiration.

Unfortunately, when this book is bad, it is awful. I try not to use words like that lightly, and the awfulness is confined to a few pages -- but I've rar
May 13, 2015 is currently reading it
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
Robin Tierney
Jan 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Many interesting and good points, such as how common human bias towards caring more for people who seem more like kin often influences charitable giving choices...and the importance of looking at bottom lines, such as looking at the number of target audience members and the cost per target audience members helped. The info will seem basic to some more experienced philanthropic givers.

Some notes I took while reading:

How to Be Great at Doing Good
Nick Cooney

Bottom line of protecting/helping as many
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
If the goal of charity is to make the world a better place, it makes sense to ask ourselves how we could best succeed at it. The question will then not only be "how can I improve the world?", but: "how can I improve the world the most?"

Given the unimaginable amount of suffering in the world, thinking rationally on how we can reduce as much of that suffering as possible can lead to more improved wellbeing than when we only rely on guesswork. Applying scientific research, testing and evidence can
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought this book made a lot of great and easy to understand arguments on how and why we can improve our charitable efforts. Some of the messaging did get a little repetitive at times. And although I didn't find it condescending, I worry others might do.

Having already been exposed to a lot of these ideas in other books there was little that was new to me. But it did provide some useful analogies and reasonings for discussing with other people new to some of these ideas.
Sirly-Ann Meriküll
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Although the overall point is good the author spins too much around the same point with nearly identical examples.
Ryan Sloan
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
Remember when you were writing an essay in school, looking at a page count that seemed unattainable because you didn't have that much to say? This reads like one of those essays, except it's a hundred pages longer. Perhaps it should have been an essay instead. Cooney repeats himself constantly (he basically retells the story of Oskar Schindler at least three or four times), and I found myself wishing he would get on it with it more than once. If you are unfamiliar with any of the literature on E ...more
Teo 2050


Cooney N (2015) (06:27) How to Be Great at Doing Good - Why Results Are What Count and How Smart Charity Can Change the World

Preface: Schindler’s Regret

01. Why Charity?
• Asking Why
• The Goal of Charity
• Barriers to Good
• The Challenge of “Why?”

02. Doing Good or Doing Great?
• A Tale of Two Charities
• Doing Good, or Doing a Lot of Good?

03. Facing the “Brutal Facts” on How Much Good We Are Accomplishing
• Gritting Our Teeth and Heading Down the Slope
• All Charities Are N
Nick Cooney takes on charity from an angle that often gets overlooked. He wants to move charity in a more purpose driven direction, that I agree with 100%. However, I think some of his philosophical positions aren't as strong as they could be. The research was interesting, but I wanted him to go more in-depth with research on charities.

I found that this book focused way too much on animal rights ( I counted over 100 references ). Not that I am for or against animal rights, but I don't think it s
Timo Brønseth
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usefwl-books
Great book that persuasively teaches how to actually do lots of good in the world instead of just deluding ourselves while feeling good about it. Easy to read and the important points are communicated with enough persuasive power such that they will be remembered at the times when it's useful to remember them (because what's the use of reading something useful unless we're able to remember it afterward?).

It's a great introduction to the core philosophy of the Effective Altruism movement, but I d
Ingeborg Slegers
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's a great quick read covering the basics of the non profit world and philanthropy. However, I feel the author leans toward a more dramatic writing style and does not have facts supporting his opinions. I would recommend it for the overall messages the author conveys. ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I learned a lot but would have liked suggestions for small next steps to take. It was an interesting read and opened my mind to concepts I hadn’t considered.
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Nick Cooney is an investor and advocate in the alternative protein industry. He has spent almost twenty years working in the food and beverage industry, initially working on the policy and consulting side and more recently from the venture capital investment side.

Currently, Nick works as managing partner at Lever VC, an early stage venture capital fund that Cooney founded in 2018. Lever VC invests

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