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GiveWell aims to find the best giving opportunities we can and recommend them to donors (why we recommend so few charities). 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 (for the time being), we won'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.

Published: October 2012


Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) is a large, international medical humanitarian organization, focused on providing care “to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.”1

We have a positive view of MSF and have recommended them for disaster-relief donations in the past. We considered evaluating MSF more thoroughly for a potential “top charity” recommendation, because we perceive them to be unusually transparent. However, we currently have decided to not prioritize additional analysis of MSF because:

  • Although MSF is unusually transparent, it is not one of the most transparent organizations we have encountered.
  • We believe that the overall cost-effectiveness of MSF's activities are unlikely to compare well with those of our top charities.

In short, while we continue to hold a positive view of MSF, and expect to recommend them in future disaster-relief situations, we believe that our top charities are likely to be a better giving opportunity for donors who are not committed to the cause of disaster relief.