Impact of GiveWell's top charities | GiveWell

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Impact of GiveWell's top charities

Note: this page is meant to provide a short summary of the humanitarian impacts we expect that a donation to each of our top charities would likely produce. We believe other considerations, such as organizational strength and the ability to use additional funding, are also relevant when deciding where to give.

For more information, including the risks of and our reservations about each of these giving opportunities and citations for the research discussed, follow the links below.

Published: April 2016; Updated: January 2017

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Against Malaria Foundation

The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) funds the distribution of insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria in Africa.

Impact

What does your donation accomplish?

A donation of roughly $5 buys a bed net that aims to cover approximately 2 people for a little over 2 years. This includes all of the costs involved, including delivering the nets and monitoring their use. The median GiveWell staff estimate is that roughly every $9,000 donated to AMF averts a death of a child under 5 and roughly $7,500 averts a death at all ages, while also possibly having an impact on a number of non-fatal illnesses and mental or physical development for some number of children. Individual staff estimates fall across a broad range of cost-effectiveness for AMF that reflects differing value judgments, intuitions, and levels of uncertainty around the evidence supporting AMF's work. More on GiveWell's approach to cost-effectiveness estimates. Additional considerations around AMF's cost-effectiveness are discussed here.

Charities supporting deworming programs

The Deworm the World Initiative, led by Evidence Action, END Fund, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), and Sightsavers fund and support the distribution of deworming pills for children to treat parasitic worm infections.

Impact

What does your donation accomplish?

It only costs around $0.50-$1 (Deworm the World, SCI, Sightsavers) to provide a child with drug treatments that help prevent worm infections for a year.

The effects on future income could be significant: accounting for the uncertainty we have about the size of the impact due to the limited evidence base, GiveWell staff estimate that, very roughly, funding deworming is five times more cost-effective than providing cash transfers. In other words, a $100 donation to Deworm the World, SCI, or Sightsavers would result on average in very poor individuals earning $500 more over the course of their lives (in today's dollars).2 Due to differing value judgments, intuitions, and levels of uncertainty around the evidence supporting deworming and the specific work of the deworming charities we recommend, GiveWell staff have different estimates of the likely long-term benefits of deworming. More on GiveWell's approach to cost-effectiveness estimates.

Malaria Consortium's seasonal malaria chemoprevention work

We recommend Malaria Consortium for its work on seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), which is the distribution of preventive anti-malarial drugs to children 3 to 59 months old in order to prevent illness and death from malaria during the rainy season in the Sahel region of Africa.

Impact

What does your donation accomplish?

We estimate that a donation of roughly $5-$10 buys 4 months' worth of SMC treatments for a child between 3 and 59 months old. This includes all of the costs involved, including delivering the treatments and monitoring their use.

GiveDirectly

GiveDirectly distributes cash to very poor individuals in Africa.

Impact

What does your donation accomplish?

Around 82% of each donation is transferred directly to the very poor (recipients may, for example, lack sufficient food to prevent hunger).3 GiveDirectly uses the other 18% of donations for expenses, including identifying recipients and delivering the funds to them. Recipients are able to spend money on the things they most need, including food, education, or investments. For example, a common purchase is an iron roof, which costs around $500 and may give a substantial return on investment (ROI) (our estimate is around 10-20% per year ROI) by replacing a thatched roof, which needs to be repaired or replaced regularly.

  • 1.

    We have not evaluated the cost-effectiveness of the deworming programs run by the END Fund or Sightsavers to the same extent as those run by Deworm the World and SCI, and rely on the latter to inform our views of the cost-effectiveness of deworming.

  • 2.

    See this spreadsheet. Note that our overall estimate for the benefits of deworming is subject to enormous variance and should only be considered a very rough guess; we try to avoid putting too much weight on such estimates, in part for reasons discussed here. We use "today's dollars" above to indicate "net present value" (for simplicity and ease of communication).

  • 3.

    "End-line data on food consumption among control group recipients from GiveDirectly's RCT also suggests that the thatched-roof eligible households are extremely poor. This data shows that '20% [sic] of the control group reports that not all household members usually eat until they are content, 23% of respondents report sleeping hungry in the last week, and only 36% report having enough food in the house for the next day.' Other results related to food consumption are measured as well, which are, in our view, consistent with the notion that recipients are extremely poor." (GiveWell's review of GiveDirectly)