Help those more capable to make a bigger difference

leverage your effort by helping those who will put your help to better use
A common mistake by those with good intentions is to give their help to those who are the worst off[1]. This is seductively intuitive, mainly the act of helping somebody in great need gives us immediate and strong feelings of doing good.

However, if we want to create the most benefit (especially for the future), then we need to look beyond the immediate sensation of helping and instead look at the results of our helping. This is not pleasant to think about, for example:
  1. helping your disabled neighbour for a couple hours a week may make your disabled neighbour 20% more effective
  2. helping your highly capable neighbour who runs a charity that helps disabled people may help your neighbour be 1% more effective
The first option feels very satisfying, whereas the second option feels less satisfying but has much greater effects (a 1% increased output for your capable neighbour will make a very large difference to the people served by that neighbour's charity). Because it is not pleasant to think about these difficult choices (that feel unkind when we make them), it is important to explicitly ensure that we do think about our choices from this perspective.

[1] Helping those who are the worst off is actually "charity" and not "future care" per se — charity can be very useful to the future, but that is outside of the scope of this article. From the perspective of this article, even if your goal was to create the most charity, then the most efficient way to do this would probably be to help those who are already doing very well at it, instead of directly helping somebody in need. (In addition to being more effective, this approach may also have fewer dangers.)