- Top charities
GiveWell aims to find the best giving opportunities we can and recommend them to donors. We tend to put a lot of investigation into the organizations we find most promising, and de-prioritize others based on limited information. When we decide not to prioritize an organization, we try to create a brief writeup of our thoughts on that charity because we want to be as transparent as possible about our reasoning.
The following write-up should be viewed in this context: it explains why we determined that we wouldn't be prioritizing the organization in question as a potential top charity. This write-up should not be taken as a "negative rating" of the charity. Rather, it is our attempt to be as clear as possible about the process by which we came to our top recommendations.
The last time we examined Women for Women International was in 2010. In our latest open-ended review of charities, we determined that it was unlikely to meet our criteria based on our past examination of it, so we did not revisit it.
We invite all charities that feel they meet our criteria to apply for consideration.
The content we created in 2010 appears below. This content is likely to be no longer fully accurate, both with respect to what it says about Women for Women International and with respect to what it implies about our own views and positions. With that said, we do feel that the takeaways from this examination are sufficient not to prioritize re-opening our investigation of this organization at this time.
Women for Women International seeks to empower women in the developing world by providing emotional support, training, and cash grants.1
We reviewed Women for Women in late 2009 as part of our process to distribute $250,000 in funds to an economic empowerment organization in Sub-Saharan Africa.
We investigated Women for Women further than other organizations because of its focus on directly providing cash grants. We feel that direct cash grants are a simple and relatively rare approach to improving the lives of individuals suffering from extreme poverty. (For more on our view of this program, see our overview of cash grant programs.)
Women for Women runs a one-year program for "women survivors of war, civil strife, and other conflicts."2 Participants receive "direct financial aid and emotional support, rights awareness education, vocational skills training and income generation assistance."3
After completing our review of Women for Women's documents and speaking on the phone with multiple representatives,4 we remain concerned about the following two issues:
Women for Women submitted an evaluation that did not, in our view, demonstrate its program's impact on participants. Women for Women has not given us permission to publish this evaluation and we therefore cannot comment further on it.
We believe that donors should approach a program in an area as complex and difficult as job training and employment skills with skepticism, and that the organization running the program bears the burden of proof to provide evidence of impact.
We find some appeal in direct cash grants, but also feel that the practice raises several challenges. (For more, see our discussion of cash transfer programs.)
"WfWI provides socially excluded women survivors of war with a year-long program of direct aid and emotional support, rights awareness and life skills education, market-based vocational skills training and income generation assistance." Women for Women, "Program Information--GiveWell Application."
Women for Women, "Annual Report (2007)," Pg 5.
Women for Women, "Annual Report (2007)," Pg 6.
Erica Tavares, phone conversation with GiveWell, November 16, 2009.
Erica Tavares and Karen Sherman, phone conversation with GiveWell, January 5, 2010.
In 2008, $4,641,941 was spent on "Sponsorship distributions" out of a total $25,074,604 in expenses for the organization as a whole.
Data from Women for Women, "Consolidated Financial Statements (2008)," Pg 4.