Position: Senior Research Associate
Salary: Our salaries are competitive with peer organizations like private foundations, academic institutions/think tanks, and the World Bank, and are benchmarked for the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where GiveWell is based. Pay starts at $120,000 but may be higher based on an individual’s experience and capabilities. We adjust the salaries of remote employees based on the federal geographic location adjustment database.
Benefits: Read about the benefits we offer here.
Location: Oakland, California (preferred). Full-time remote work is possible. As a general rule, requests to work remotely will usually be allowed for locations that are within three hours of the Pacific Time Zone. Exceptions to the time zone rule may be made in rare circumstances.
Flexibility: 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.
Visa sponsorship: We can sponsor work visas. However, please be aware that processing times can be much longer than usual right now and are subject to specific country circumstances. Currently, international remote work is possible.
Timeline: We're reviewing applications on a rolling basis.
GiveWell is motivated by the simple question: how can we do as much good as possible?
In our efforts to answer this question, our researchers search for and recommend outstanding philanthropic giving opportunities. We focus on global health and poverty alleviation programs in the lowest-income parts of the world because that is where we've found we can have the greatest impact, according to our criteria.
We direct funding to outstanding giving opportunities in two main ways:
- Our recommended charities. We rigorously vet and recommend a short list of top charities that meet our criteria of being evidence-backed, cost-effective, transparent, and in need of more funding. Our nine current top charities work on death-averting (malaria chemoprevention, antimalarial nets, vaccine incentivization, and vitamin A supplementation) and life-improving (providing cash transfers and deworming medication) programs.
We continuously review our giving recommendations, and this analysis is available, for free, on our website. Based on our recommendations, donors have given more than $800 million to our recommended programs since our founding in 2007. In 2020 alone, GiveWell donors contributed more than $170 million to our recommendations, which we estimate will avert between 29,000 and 48,000 deaths and provide parasitic worm treatments for over 12 million children.
- Grants to promising opportunities. GiveWell also recommends grants to projects whose impact is less directly measurable but might be even greater than that of our recommended charities. Past grants include support for an initiative to improve the uptake and implementation by governments of evidence-based policy and the first randomized controlled trial of mask-wearing in a low-income country to increase mask use and prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Going forward, we expect to broaden the scope of what we consider funding. We will remain driven by our search for funding opportunities that can save or improve lives the most.
As a Senior Research Associate at GiveWell, you will work on a variety of projects. Senior staff work closely with new hires and attempt to tailor your assignments to those best suited to your abilities.
- Analyzing interventions (e.g., tobacco taxation, solar panel provision, surgical interventions) at various levels of depth to refine our view about the cost-effectiveness of a particular intervention and recommend either deprioritization or further work. Researchers review existing empirical evidence about intervention impacts, build preliminary cost-effectiveness models, and speak with subject matter experts about particular interventions. Examples of this work are available on our intervention reports page.
- Building cost-effectiveness models to estimate the costs and benefits of a particular intervention. These models take into account a wide variety of considerations, including: one's prior estimate for an intervention's impact, the strength of the evidence, the size of the effects, the similarity between the context in which an intervention was studied and will be implemented, negative and/or offsetting effects, and how funding this intervention would affect decisions by other actors (e.g., local government, donor governments). See more on our page about our cost-effectiveness models.
- Reviewing specific giving opportunities. We receive and solicit requests for funding on an ongoing basis as part of our Incubation Grants program. Researchers investigate each of these opportunities to determine whether or not they should receive funding. Reviewers discuss each grant opportunity with the applying organization, consider its plans and assess the likelihood it will achieve them, estimate the cost-effectiveness of a grant and forecast its likelihood of success. When necessary, they solicit feedback from outside experts (e.g., academics, government officials) about the opportunity.
- Building relationships with experts relevant to our work, for example, academics who specialize in interventions we are reviewing (e.g., malaria, deworming, tobacco taxation), leaders and program staff at organizations we are considering for funding, and program staff at foundations who are also evaluating where to allocate funds. See summaries from some of these conversations on our conversations page.
- Publishing reports and blog posts on our website. Transparency is a core value of ours and we aim to publish as much supporting information regarding our conclusions as we can. Researchers write up our findings and reasoning for publication on our website or summarize key points from their work in blog posts.
- Exploring new areas of research. We are currently building our team and substantially expanding the scope of our research. We expect new hires will help lead this expansion by assessing areas of global health and development that appear promising but which we have not sufficiently considered to date, such as policy-oriented interventions. More in this blog post. Our researchers also generate and share ideas for funding opportunities that might be better than the current organizations we recommend.
You should have a bachelor's degree (or higher) in a quantitative field such as economics, mathematics, or statistics or equivalent experience (~6 years). Exceptions may be made for excellent applicants who do not meet this criterion.
We expect you will be characterized by many of the below qualities. We encourage you to apply if you would use the majority of these characteristics to describe yourself:
- You are passionate about helping improve global health and alleviate global poverty as much as possible.
- You are highly skilled at critically analyzing and synthesizing empirical research and understanding how a body of evidence may apply to real-world problems.
- You are able to plan an efficient approach to exploring complicated questions, including identifying and focusing on the most decision-relevant aspects of a project.
- You consider the big picture, asking questions like: is this project appropriately formulated and the best use of my time? What is GiveWell getting wrong in our research?
- You clearly communicate what you believe and why, as well as what you are uncertain about.
- You ask a lot of questions, and are curious, rather than defensive, when interrogating your own or others’ work.
- You are able to execute research that holds up under scrutiny from others and over time.
- You are respectful, effective, and efficient in your interactions with colleagues as well as external parties.
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 make a positive impact through their work and help create an organization where everyone can thrive. So whatever background you bring with you, please apply if this role would make you excited to come to work every day.
Apply here: http://www.givewell.org/about/jobs/research-application. We only accept applications through our website. You may also send additional materials, such as a letter of recommendation, to support your application; this is not required. Please send those materials to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We plan to respond to all submissions. Please contact email@example.com with any questions.
If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of our dedication to the diversity of our staff, GiveWell is committed to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity and to making employment decisions based on merit and value. We are committed to complying with all federal, state, and local laws providing Equal Employment Opportunities, as well as all laws related to terms and conditions of employment. We desire to maintain a work environment free of harassment or discrimination due to sex, race, religion, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, citizenship, physical or mental disability, marital status, familial status, ethnicity, ancestry, status as a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, age, or any other status protected by federal, state, or local laws.
We will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.