Japan: To Give or Not to Give?

In the wake of Japan's tragic earthquake and tsunami, Felix Salmon argues against donating to the cause. Salmon cites concerns about the hobbling effects of earmarked funds, uncoordinated NGOs, and Japan's wealth.

When the Dictator Speaks

It pays to be the dictator, but not as much when you have to explain yourself.

Churches Versus Synagogues: Voluntary Donations Versus Dues

Christian churches and Jewish synagogues rely on very different financing models, yet both "appear to raise about the same amount per member," according to a survey conducted by the Jewish newspaper The Forward (article by Josh Nathan-Kazis). While synagogue members pay annual dues, churches rely primarily on voluntary donations from members.

To Dim the Headlights or Not to Dim: What's in It for Me?

A reader named Linda Cass asks an interesting question that pokes into the self-interest/fairness/altruism area we've been writing about lately: Why do 99% of people dim their headlights for oncoming vehicles?

Altruism Alert: Just Ask

Altruism is a regular topic on this blog, and had its own chapter in SuperFreakonomics. New research (earlier, ungated version here) looks at one factor that may affect altruism in the real world: communication.

"The Donors Are Taking the Place of the State"

A group of 40 American billionaires, led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, has publicly vowed to donate at least half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Gates and Buffett, through their project The Giving Pledge, hope to persuade the 400 richest Americans to join them. If successful, the duo could generate an unprecedented $600 billion for charity (Americans as a whole donate about $300 billion a year). A laudable example of pure altruism, right? German shipping tycoon Peter Krämer thinks not

Do "Green" Products Cause Bad Behavior?

New research indicates that exposure to green products and the purchase of green products have vastly different effects on behavior.

"We Pretend We Are Christians"

A Freakonomics reader in Texas fakes her religion for the sake of her kids.

What's Next: A Do-Not-Knock Registry?

John List had better be careful. His research is very valuable to the philanthropic community; but if this latest paper engenders a public outcry for a "do-not-knock" registry, he might quickly become a pariah.

End-of-the-Year Altruists

Yes, today is December 31. So get off this site and go find someplace to exercise your altruism, as impure as it may be.