- Top charities
GiveWell researches and recommends outstanding giving opportunities which donors use to guide their charitable giving. In 2012, approximately 3,500 donors gave a total of more than $8 million to GiveWell's three top charities. For more information about money moved to GiveWell's top charities, see our impact page.
From 2007 (the year in which GiveWell was founded) through 2012, GiveWell staff members proactively searched for charities to potentially recommend. As of January 2013, we have ceased proactive searching (as the results of proactive searching have been limited over the previous two years). We now ask organizations that believe they should qualify as a "top charity" to apply by following the instructions on this page.
This page provides:
Please note: we do not intend to complete a review for all organizations that apply. We only intend to complete reviews for organizations whose applications indicate that they may qualify for our top rating. As of January 2013 (when this page was first published), three of approximately 1,000 organizations we have considered currently qualify for our highest ratings.
The charities we have historically recommended most strongly share two characteristics; we require that applicant charities meet both of the following criteria:
Criterion 1: program area
We have created this list of programs we will consider. In some cases, we have already assessed the evidence for these programs and believe they are effective (or have strong reason to suspect they are). We call these programs "priority programs." We also list "promising programs" – these are programs that we have yet to assess but would consider assessing a charity working on one of these programs.
If the program your organization runs is not on the list but you think it should be, please contact us with information about your program with the case for why it should be included in our list.
We seek organizations that are running the target program at a significant scale. By "significant scale" we mean either (a) organizations that have spent in excess of $1 million on this program in the past calendar year and anticipate maintaining at least this level of spending OR (b) organizations whose sole focus is the target program and either have or expect to direct at least $1 million within the next two years.
Criterion 2: commitment to sharing meaningful evaluative information publicly
Charities that apply should be willing to be "an open book" in terms of their operations, programs and plans. In general, this means that (a) the charity collects, evaluates and is open to sharing meaningful information about its activities publicly and (b) is ready to give GiveWell permission to write candidly about the charity's successes and shortcomings as we do with ourselves.
When submitting your application materials, please indicate whether or not you give us permission to publish your application materials on our website. While we will honor requests for confidentiality and will only publish materials when we have been given explicit permission to do so, we value transparency, and organizations that expect to keep a large proportion of information private should not apply (though we honor all requests to keep information private, and understand that there is some information for which there are good reasons not to share).
For examples of the type of information we seek to share, please see our reviews and updates for current and past top-rated charities (linked below).
These reviews and updates require a significant time investment from applying organizations. Specifically, charities should expect a review that reaches the final stages of consideration to include:
Additionally, once charities are recommended they should plan to:
In general, we appreciate more rather than less detail. Therefore, please err on the side of submitting more rather than less information. That said, we advise organizations to avoid creating reports tailored to GiveWell unless we specifically ask for them. If there is documentation that you do not yet have available, but could create, please note this in your application and we'll respond regarding whether or not this is something we'd ask you to put together.
Please submit all of the following information:
This could also be satisfied by submitting in-depth, technical evaluations of past projects your organization has carried out. (We define "technical evaluation" as one that specifies the complete methodology for data collection and analysis.) Please submit as many evaluations as you have available and specify the proportion of your past projects that these evaluations cover (e.g., Are all past projects evaluated or only a subset? If a subset, what proportion of projects was evaluated?)
Examples of current top-charities' room-for-more-funding information:
Additional information you can submit that may help us but is not required:
For examples of information provided by our current top-charities, please see the reviews linked from our top charities page.
For each document submitted, please explicitly state which of the above requests it fulfills. Please submit this list as an additional document along with your application.
We'll review your application and respond within 6 weeks of submission. We may request additional documents over email or we may ask to speak over the phone. When we speak over the phone, we'll ask to take notes to publish to our website. (Past conversations notes are on our conversations page.) You will have the opportunity to review and edit these notes before we publish them, and we will only publish what you give us permission to.
For applicants under serious consideration for our top rankings, we estimate a minimum of 3 months (and more likely 4-6 months) between the time we initially respond to your application and completion of our review. This period would include the activities discussed above.
Thank you for your interest in GiveWell. We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions please email email@example.com.