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

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  87 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Turns out much of the advice we've been given about how to make the world a better place turns out to be dead wrong. Donating to certain charities will do thousands of times more good that donating to others. Non-profits that choose to carry out one program instead of another will be hundreds of times less successful than they could be, regardless of how bright, hard-worki ...more
Kindle Edition, 195 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Jossey-Bass
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Jason Pettus
Jan 06, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 -- this is no ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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)  ·  review of another edition
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 to learn more and order a signed copy directly from the author (me).
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
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" q
Sarah Brillinger
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 --
May 13, 2015 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Teo 2050
~3.5h @ 1.75x. Contents:
(view spoiler) ...more
Robin Tierney
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

Joeri Kooimans
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 e
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sirly Meriküll
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  ·  review of another edition
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 Effecti ...more
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(
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 movem
Ingeborg Slegers
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Love & Social Change: I think you'll like this book- 3 20 May 11, 2015 09:07AM  
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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. Leve