GiveWell's mission is to find outstanding charities and to publish the full details of our analysis to help donors decide where to give. Our focus is on finding the most outstanding charities possible rather than completing an in-depth investigation for each organization we consider.
We're currently running two separate research processes with different criteria.
Our "top charities" work, the focus of this page, is the work that we originally focused on, and have carried out since our founding in 2007. It's rooted in our own struggles as donors and our attempt to find charities that were proven, cost-effective, and scalable, such that we could draw a maximally confident, linear, quantified link between donations and outcomes, along the lines of "$X per life saved" or "$Y per person enabled to get a job paying 20% more than they could have gotten otherwise." (See our former criteria.)
We've since come to recognize major limitations to this approach, and we are working to produce recommendations based on an alternate vision of giving — emphasizing higher-risk, higher-upside activities commonly associated with major funders. This alternate approach, GiveWell Labs, hasn't yet produced recommendations. In the meantime we feel that our "top charities" recommendations have substantial value for donors seeking to give now. As such, we continue to provide our recommendations, while also being clear about their limitations.
We don't believe that our top charities offer linear, reliably quantifiable returns along the lines of "$X per life saved," but we do believe that they are distinguished from other charities by their focus on evidence-backed programs aiming to help the global poor and by their transparency and accountability, all of which we believe to be important qualities. (More at Our Criteria.)
More recently, we have been broadening our work via GiveWell Labs, our project that looks for the best ways to accomplish good with philanthropy - no matter what form and what sector. Within GiveWell Labs, we're open - among other things - to funding political advocacy, scientific research, startup organizations with no track record, projects with no precedent, and projects with extremely long time horizons.
For more information on GiveWell Labs, see our GiveWell Labs page.
For more information on our work on evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, underfunded organizations, see:
- Our top charities
- Full details and explanation of our process for identifying and selecting organizations
- Our general criteria for evaluating organizations with links to more detail
- Overviews of major causes such as: