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Senior Fellow

This job description is out of date. The updated version of this job description is now here.

Position: Senior Fellow
Location: San Francisco, CA preferred
Timeline: There is no firm deadline for applying.


We are looking for a Senior Fellow with a strong background in causal inference and quantitative research methods (either through academic coursework at the graduate level or previous work experience) and a demonstrated interest in global health and/or development to lead our work assessing the evidence and cost-effectiveness of global health and development interventions such as immunization campaigns, bednet distribution, breastfeeding promotion, etc.

This position would be a great fit for a candidate who wants to apply a rigorous methodological background toward making real-world funding decisions at a small, agile organization.

Our top charities - to which we directed over $110 million in 2015 - are evaluated largely based on the cost-effectiveness and strength of the academic evidence for the interventions they implement. In addition, we recommend a number of grants to early-stage organizations carrying out strong interventions, and studies that could improve the evidence for interventions, in the hopes that these grants will lead eventually to new top charities. (More on our page devoted to this work.)

Job description

The Senior Fellow will contribute to our core research and will also have the opportunity to allocate some time to pursuing her/his own original research agenda including publishing in peer-reviewed journals if she/he desires.

The Senior Fellow will be responsible for:

  • Prioritizing the interventions we consider for funding.
  • Assessing the evidence behind an intervention: can it be causally linked to improving people's lives? How much uncertainty is there about the magnitude of this impact? All evidence should be approached in a critical, open-minded way, recognizing the case both for and against attributing causality. We do not exclusively consider randomized controlled trials, nor do we use them uncritically.
  • Assessing the cost-effectiveness of an intervention: all things considered, how much good can be accomplished per dollar spent? Our cost-effectiveness models are often fairly complex and require creative approaches to making a number of judgment calls. More about our cost-effectiveness estimates here.
  • Assessing the room for more funding for an intervention: what does the global gap look like, and how practical would it be to increase delivery with increased funding?
  • Working alongside staff evaluating funding opportunities to (a) evaluate evidence provided by organizations seeking funding and (b) consider the similarity between the program the organization implements and the existing evidence.
  • Staying up to date on relevant academic literature that may lead to new ideas for interventions to consider for funding.

Qualifications and characteristics

  • Ph.D. in economics, public health, or statistics or equivalent experience. Exceptions may be made for outstanding applicants who do not meet this criterion.
  • At least three years of research or policy-related experience. Exceptions may be made for outstanding applicants who do not meet this criterion.
  • Passionate about finding great giving opportunities and making the world a better place.
  • Value intense discussion and debate.
  • Strong critical thinking skills; able to approach all claims (including their managers') with skepticism.
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Comfortable with open-ended questions, where no clear precedents or guidelines exist.
  • Value the intensity and open-endedness of a small organization over the stability and comfort of a larger corporation.

To apply

Please send the following to

  • Resume and cover letter
  • Writing sample
  • A 1-2 page answer to the following question: what is something you've learned from reading academic literature (preferably studies by others, rather than work that you did) that you are confident is true? Please include citations for the paper(s) you reference in your response, and briefly (informally) note which pieces of evidence you find most compelling. For example, our review of the literature for salt iodization convinced us that programs that fortify salt with iodine improves children's cognitive ability.

You may also send additional material, such as a letter of recommendation, to support your application; this is not required.

Please contact with any questions.

Please note:

  • We prefer candidates who will be based at our office in San Francisco, but we are open to someone who works remotely.
  • We will consider sponsoring applications for work authorization for exceptional candidates.

GiveWell started as a group of finance professionals trying to do as much good as possible with their personal donations. Since 2007, it has been a full-time independent research group. We publish our charity recommendations, research, and the full details of our analysis publicly at

In 2020, GiveWell tracked $243 million in donations to our recommended charities as a direct result of our research. Our research has received accolades from Peter Singer (who featured it in his manifesto on giving, The Life You Can Save), Nicholas Kristof (who featured it in Half the Sky), and media including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN, NPR, and many others .

We have fifty-one full- and part-time employees and are located in Oakland.

Confidence can sometimes hold us back from applying for a job. Here’s a secret: there's no such thing as a "perfect" candidate. GiveWell is looking for exceptional people who want to help create a place where everyone can thrive. So however you identify and whatever background you bring with you, please apply if this role would make you excited to wake up everyday.

GiveWell accommodates flexible and remote working. We support and encourage flexible working, including flexible hours, regular work-from-home days, part-time work patterns, and periodic remote-work stints. The majority of our staff, including senior management, work flexibly in one way or another. Our preference is for staff to work from Oakland. As a general rule, requests to work remotely outside the U.S. will be allowed at GiveWell’s sole discretion and generally for locations that are within three hours of the Pacific Standard Timezone. Exceptions to this general rule may be made, but only in exceptional circumstances.

As part of our dedication to the diversity of our staff, GiveWell is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. People of color, people with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, you may contact us at