Our Criteria - 2012 Version | GiveWell

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Our Criteria - 2012 Version

We have published a more recent version of this page. See our up-to-date criteria.


We use different criteria for the two different parts of our research: our traditional work on finding proven, cost-effective, scalable international aid charities and our newer project "GiveWell Labs."

Proven, cost-effective, scalable international aid charities

Our current top charities represent charities that we can confidently recommend to individual, casual (i.e., non-professional, non-expert) donors. They are characterized by the following qualities:

  • Strong evidence of positive impact on people's lives. More on this criterion here.
  • Highly cost-effective activities. We seek charities that provide high "bang for the buck," in terms of changing many lives (significantly) for relatively little money. Available cost-effectiveness estimates involve a great deal of uncertainty and approximation; we place limited weight on estimated cost-effectiveness, but we are mindful of extremely large differences. More on this criterion here.
  • Room for more funding. It isn't enough to identify a strong program; we seek to identify strong programs that can productively use more donor funding. More on this criterion here.
  • Transparency and accountability to donors. Recommended charities must be willing to share enough in-depth information about their work that we can assess them on the above criteria.

Full details of our research process

The Open Philanthropy Project

We don't expect to use the same criteria we've used for our traditional work, and the criteria remain a work in progress as of this writing. More