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Updated: 54 min 19 sec ago

December 2021 open thread

Mon, 12/13/2021 - 12:49

Our goal with hosting quarterly open threads is to give blog readers an opportunity to publicly raise comments or questions about GiveWell or related topics (in the comments section below). As always, you’re also welcome to email us at info@givewell.org or to request a call with GiveWell staff if you have feedback or questions you’d prefer to discuss privately. We’ll try to respond promptly to questions or comments.

You can view previous open threads here.

The post December 2021 open thread appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Staff members’ personal donations for giving season 2021

Fri, 12/10/2021 - 12:39

For this post, a number of GiveWell staff members volunteered to share the thinking behind their personal donations for the year. We’ve published similar posts in previous years.1See our staff giving posts from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13569_1_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13569_1_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); Staff are listed alphabetically by first name.

You can click the below links to jump to a staff member’s entry:

Andrew Martin (Senior Research Associate)

I’m planning to give 100% of my donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund (MIF). I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year working on the cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) that GiveWell uses as a major input into allocation decisions for the MIF. My work on the CEA, as well as my observations of all the care and thoroughness that my colleagues put into research on where to allocate MIF funding, increases my confidence that this is the best option for my personal donation.

Audrey Cooper (Philanthropy Advisor)

My family generally sets aside 10% of our income for charitable giving. This year, we’ll be supporting GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund, to save lives and alleviate poverty, and the International Refugee Assistance Project, which focuses on both advocacy and direct service for displaced people. We also make a small monthly gift to a criminal justice-focused organization working to provide alternative sentencing options in our city.

Throughout the year, we make a few additional donations that typically come out of our regular spending budget, rather than the money we’ve set aside for giving. For instance, we make gifts in honor of friends, for birthdays/special occasions or when they’ve organized a fundraiser for a cause they’re passionate about. We also make small donations to organizations in our neighborhood (such as the local community garden and an agency serving people experiencing homelessness) and to organizations that we benefit from but that are technically nonprofits (museum memberships, etc.). I think of these donations as paying into organizations that are providing public goods and making my city a better place, rather than as cost-effective charitable donations. Together, these types of donations represent a small portion of our giving—less than 1% of our income.

Elie Hassenfeld (CEO)

This year, we’re giving to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund.

GiveWell is currently producing the highest-quality research it ever has, which has led to more thoroughly researched, higher-quality recommendations that have been compared to more potential alternatives than ever before.

As part of my job, I spend a lot of time thinking about the questions: what should GiveWell be doing differently? What should we be researching that we’re not? What should we be directing funding to that seems out of scope today?

When I come across giving opportunities that seem as if they might be as cost-effective as or better than the Maximum Impact Fund, I’ve taken the approach of working to change GiveWell and our process so that we, institutionally, are evaluating and recommending those opportunities. That’s why, at the moment, GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund is the best thing I see to support.

Isabel Arjmand (Internal Communications Officer)

My thoughts on my giving are generally the same as what I wrote last year. The vast majority of my giving this year will be split equally between global health and well-being and reducing factory-farmed-animal suffering. I don’t have a principled reason to split it fifty-fifty, but am choosing that allocation as a default this year, since I think both causes are important and (likely) cost-effective; in the past, all my giving has gone to human well-being, and I’ll probably revisit the balance again next year.

  • Global health and well-being. Within this area, I’m giving the vast majority of my donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund, for the same reasons as many of my colleagues—I think our recommended programs do outstanding work, and I don’t know of a way to help people more per dollar. I’m excited to see how we choose to allocate this funding early next year. Additionally, I’m considering making smaller donations to GiveDirectly (for the same reason I wrote about last year) and D-Prize (I like the idea of supporting global health and development organizations that are largely created and led by people in the communities they serve, which is my perception of a lot of D-Prize’s funded programs).
  • Farm animal welfare. I believe that the treatment of factory-farmed animals is morally abhorrent, and while I value the well-being of humans more highly than that of non-human animals, I think factory farming causes so much suffering that it’s worthy of serious consideration. I haven’t given to farm animal welfare in the past, partly because of my perception that Open Philanthropy largely has that area covered in terms of funding, relative to how well-funded cost-effective global health and development programs are. But, given how rapidly GiveWell’s funds raised have grown, it no longer seems clear to me that effective farm animal welfare opportunities are better-funded. After considering recommendations from Animal Charity Evaluators, Open Philanthropy, and my colleague Teryn, I’ll likely give to Faunalytics, The Humane League, Fish Welfare Initiative, and the Effective Altruism Funds Animal Welfare Fund.

Because of how excited I am about what a dollar can do in the above areas, I’m not currently planning to make any substantial donations outside these areas, even though there are other issues I find compelling. Sometimes I make small, ad hoc donations to local or personal causes as they come up, but I don’t keep track of those or consider them part of this “budget.”

I’m very lucky to have the resources I need to live a happy life, with some left over to give away, and since there’s so much need in the world, I see giving away a portion of my disposable income as both an obligation and an important opportunity.

James Snowden (Program Officer)

I’ll probably give my personal donation to the Maximum Impact Fund this year, but I haven’t decided yet.

The lens I take on my giving:

  • I want my giving to help people as much as possible.
  • I focus my giving on helping people in low- and middle-income countries.
  • I think the vast majority of my personal impact will come from my career rather than my personal donations. I think it’s helpful for me to put thought into my personal giving decisions, as a check on whether GiveWell is still the best option for “donors like me,” but I don’t want to spend time investigating specific opportunities.

The most important reason I’m likely to give to the Maximum Impact Fund is that GiveWell is the institution I trust most to allocate my giving to where it can have a lot of impact. I think additional funding will translate to more cost-effective programs that help a lot of people.

The “case against” that I find most compelling is: as GiveWell allocates larger amounts of funding, we are prioritizing investigating large opportunities we expect to lead to greater overall impact over smaller opportunities that may lead to more cost-effective impact. I think that’s the right decision for GiveWell to maximize its impact as an institution, but it means that smaller (but potentially more cost-effective) opportunities that don’t fit our criteria are more likely to be neglected. A donor who was in a particularly strong position to discover and assess these opportunities might be able to have even more impact.

So, while I expect to still give to the Maximum Impact Fund, I put a bit more time than usual into considering alternatives.

Options I’ve considered include:

  • Giving to GiveWell grantees I know well through my work. Grantees who I was the lead investigator for include the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention, Pure Earth, Vital Strategies, and the team behind a randomized controlled trial on face mask use (including Innovations for Poverty Action and Y-Rise). I’m excited about the work these organizations are doing, but I don’t expect to give to them personally because I worry about mixing my personal donations with my role as a Program Officer.
  • Giving to individuals or organizations working in effective altruism. I think Rethink Priorities has produced some highquality research in global health and development. Because I interact with Rethink Priorities in a professional capacity, I don’t expect to give to it personally.
  • Giving to potential future grantees. Sometimes I come across opportunities that seem particularly promising, such that my best guess prior to conducting an investigation is that they’re more cost-effective than marginal funding to the Maximum Impact Fund, but it might not be worth the time to build the full case for the grant for a small amount of funding. However, GiveWell has adopted a new, lighter-touch grantmaking process for these kinds of opportunities, which I expect to mean we can investigate these grants more efficiently in the future. I’m not excited about getting out ahead of grantmaking I expect to do in a professional context.
  • The Effective Altruism Global Health and Development Fund. I don’t expect to give to the Effective Altruism Global Health and Development Fund, because I don’t think there’s a meaningful difference between giving to that fund and giving to the Maximum Impact Fund (because they funge with each other).

Maggie Lloydhauser (Philanthropy Advisor)

This year, as in past years, my husband and I are giving a percentage of our income to causes we care about. Prior to my working at GiveWell, we had struggled with the global health and development portion of our giving. This year, we are excited to have given the majority of our donations to GiveWell unrestricted. I’m excited by the incubation grants we are considering funding right now, which I hope will generate huge funding areas for GiveWell supporters in the future. I feel that unrestricted donations are the best way for us to support this work in a way that gives maximum discretion to our remarkably talented research team.

We are also making much smaller gifts to local environmental organizations in each of our hometowns, as well as the civil rights nonprofit where I used to work. Our giving this year has been greatly informed by my first few months at GiveWell, and looks quite different from past years.

Natalie Crispin (Program Officer)

We will be giving our annual gift to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund.

2021 was an amazing year for the impact of the GiveWell community. Donors’ support for the Maximum Impact Fund grew tremendously in 2021, after growing tremendously in 2020. At first, this made me nervous. There’s surely no shortage of problems to try to solve, but what if we couldn’t identify the promising solutions quickly enough? And, to be sure, we haven’t fully caught up to the generosity yet (as we wrote about recently). But what I’ve learned this year is that when we ask our existing grantees and potential grantees to “think bigger,” they have no trouble doing so. I continue to be excited about giving to the Maximum Impact Fund because I hope we can keep asking, “What’s next?”

Olivia Larsen (Philanthropy Advisor)

This year, I’m planning to give 100% of my Giving What We Can Pledge to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. I’m very excited about the giving opportunities our research team has identified and will identify in the future!

Since I’m a student again this year, my donation budget is more limited than it was when I was working full time. But with GiveWell’s top charities’ ability to purchase and deliver an insecticide-treated net for under $5, or a vitamin A supplement for $1.10, what feels like a relatively small amount to me can go a long way toward helping people living in low- and lower-middle-income countries with basic needs. I continue to be both humbled and energized by the good that I can do through GiveWell’s top charities!

Roman Guglielmo (Donor Relations Assistant)

Only two years out of college, with loans to pay off and still a lot to learn about personal finance, I find it hard to know how to think about giving. At the same time, I want to help effective organizations tackle the world’s problems, and hopefully make this a consistent part of my life sooner rather than later.

Over the past year or so, I’ve read (that is, listened to) some of the books that underpin the ideas of effective altruism, like The Life You Can Save, The Most Good You Can Do, and Doing Good Better. Their arguments convinced me that, if I spend money on things I don’t really need (as I certainly do), then I should also be able to muster something to give to people in need—and that, whatever the amount, I should give to organizations that have demonstrated the ability to use my contribution effectively.

This year, I probably won’t meet the 5% of income suggested in The Life You Can Save, but I do plan to donate small, probably equal amounts to the organizations below, which work on problems spanning global health and poverty, climate change, voter suppression, and animal welfare. I hope to increase my donations in years to come, aspiring to that 5% or beyond.

  • GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund
  • Evergreen Collaborative
  • Clean Air Task Force
  • Carbon180
  • Greenpeace International
  • Sunrise Movement
  • Fridays For Future
  • Environmental Voter Project
  • Fair Fight Action
  • The Humane League

Notes[+]

Notes ↑1 See our staff giving posts from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. function footnote_expand_reference_container_13569_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13569_1').show(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13569_1').text('−'); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container_13569_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13569_1').hide(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13569_1').text('+'); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container_13569_1() { if (jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13569_1').is(':hidden')) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13569_1(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container_13569_1(); } } function footnote_moveToReference_13569_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13569_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery( 'html, body' ).delay( 0 ); jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor_13569_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13569_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery( 'html, body' ).delay( 0 ); jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } }

The post Staff members’ personal donations for giving season 2021 appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Our recommendations for giving in 2021

Mon, 11/22/2021 - 15:04

You can have a remarkable impact by supporting cost-effective, evidence-based charities.

Just looking at the approximately $100 million[1] GiveWell had discretion to grant in 2020—a subset of all the money we directed to the charities we recommend—the impact of our donors is impressive. We estimate these grants will:

  • Save more than 24,000 lives
  • Treat over 6 million children with a full course of antimalarial medication
  • Provide vitamin A supplementation to over 8.6 million children
  • Deliver over 4.4 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to protect against malaria
  • Vaccinate 118,000 children
  • Treat over 11.4 million children for parasitic worms

We’re grateful for your support and interest in our work, and we’re excited to share our recommendations and updates on our recent research. We hope you consider donating to some of the truly outstanding charities we recommend.

Summary We continue to recommend the same excellent top charities.

The nine charities we recommend are high-impact, cost-effective, and backed by evidence and our rigorous analysis. This year, our top charities list remains unchanged.

While our list of recommendations is the same, we have made major strides in our research identifying new giving opportunities within our top charities. We expect to direct about $300 million to our top charities in 2021, compared to about $180 million in 2020. More detail on this below.

We’ve also made major strides in identifying new opportunities that are as cost-effective as current top charities, and expect to grant about $130 million to new interventions this year. We expect to continue that work in 2022.

Our top recommendation: GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund

Our Maximum Impact Fund remains our top recommendation for donors who want to do as much good as possible with their gift. As always, we take no fees, and grant from our Maximum Impact Fund on a quarterly basis to the opportunities where we believe additional donations will help the most.

Cost-effectiveness varies widely between our top charities. Even within charities, there can be wide variations in cost-effectiveness between specific funding opportunities, due to factors like disease prevalence.[2] We use our latest research to grant funds to the highest-priority needs among our top charities. You can see a list of past grants from the Maximum Impact Fund here.

If you’d like to give according to GiveWell’s research, our Maximum Impact Fund is where we expect your donation will help the most.

If you prefer to select an individual charity instead, our 2021 top charities are (in alphabetical order):

  • Against Malaria Foundation (AMF)
  • Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative
  • GiveDirectly
  • Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program
  • Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program
  • New Incentives
  • SCI Foundation
  • Sightsavers’ deworming program
  • The END Fund’s deworming program

This year, we expect to fill all funding needs at our top charities that meet our cost-effectiveness bar for granting—this excludes GiveDirectly—and have additional funds remaining to roll into 2022.[3] This is the result of tremendous growth in our fundraising this year. To learn more about why we’re rolling over funds and how this will affect the impact of your donation to the Maximum Impact Fund or our top charities, please see our blog post titled “We aim to cost-effectively direct around $1 billion annually by 2025.”

GiveWell’s evolving role

The lack of changes to our top charities list this year is partially due to changes in how GiveWell is evolving as an organization. Historically, GiveWell has directed funds to charities in two ways:

  • GiveWell as a recommender. Donors choose from our top charities list and give where they like. Our top charities meet GiveWell’s traditional criteria; they are organizations that (a) implement a program that is backed by significant evidence, (b) are cost-effective (in the sense that their program accomplishes a lot of good per dollar donated), (c) can utilize additional funding effectively, and (d) are transparent with us so that we can be transparent with the public.
  • GiveWell as a grantmaker. We direct funds to specific opportunities, either from our Maximum Impact Fund (if granting to top charities) or by recommending grants to specific donors like Open Philanthropy. We recommend specific grants based on cost-effectiveness, aiming to maximize the total impact of the grants we make. We have directed the majority of grant funding to our top charities,[4] but we’ve also granted some to organizations that are not top charities.

Through most of GiveWell’s history, we’ve focused on our role as a recommender. But since 2015, we’ve directed much more through granting. This is due to both increased donations to our Maximum Impact Fund and increased funding from third parties like Open Philanthropy.

We have major open questions about how we ought to frame the charities we recommend and those we grant to. Going forward, we aren’t sure how “top charities” should be defined in relation to our work making and recommending grants, and we’re hesitant to add new top charities while we’re in the process of resolving that.

We expect to raise over $500 million in 2021, largely in additional funds for granting. Given the amount of room for more funding we wanted to find to match our growth in donations, we decided to focus on making grants this year instead of addressing those questions.

We don’t think we’ve clearly communicated these different roles, and we recognize that this distinction may be confusing. In the near future, we plan to improve how we communicate about our recommendations to donors to avoid ongoing confusion. We’ll share further updates in 2022.

How our research teams have increased our room for more funding

Our research is largely done by two teams:

  • Our top charities team, which focuses on continued evaluation of our top charities, as well as projects to increase the amount of funding those organizations can use cost-effectively.
  • Our new interventions team, which focuses on identifying new programs for GiveWell to fund.

We also do some high-leverage research, with the goal of granting to programs that have harder-to-measure effects than our top charities. We’ve shared a few key accomplishments of these teams below (see here, here, and here) to highlight their work.

Our key accomplishment this year was identifying a significantly larger amount of cost-effective room for more funding than previously. We expect that we’ll increase our total room for more funding from $200 million in 2020 to $450 million in 2021.[5] That growth comes from across our different teams:

Below we’ll share more detail on how we were able to grow our room for more funding this quickly.

Our top charities team identified many more cost-effective funding opportunities in 2021.

In 2021, we’ve already recommended $51 million in grants to maintain existing programs run by our top charities.

But we’re also working to identify new opportunities to fund within our top charities. We’ve already recommended $73 million in grants to top charities in 2021 to enable them to expand their programs to new locations, or fill gaps left when other funders withdrew support.

These new funding opportunities have included:

  • distributing nets to prevent malaria in Nigeria
  • distributing medicine to prevent malaria in two new states in Nigeria
  • providing supplements to prevent vitamin A deficiency in Cameroon
  • providing treatments for parasitic worm infections (deworming) in Chad
  • providing cash incentives for routine childhood vaccines in additional areas of Nigeria

We have published a page on the first opportunity in this list, a grant to Malaria Consortium for LLIN distribution in Ondo and Anambra states in Nigeria, and plan to publish more about the other grants in the coming months. We are considering recommending about $170 million in additional grants for programs run by our top charities.

Along with directly funding programs, we’re also funding research to test and measure the impact of these interventions in additional locations.

One example is our work with Malaria Consortium on the impact of SMC (distributing medicine to prevent malaria) in Mozambique and Uganda. Malaria-transmitting parasites in these regions exhibit a higher level of drug resistance than in the Sahel region, where this program has typically been run.[6] A key question is whether higher levels of drug resistance in these regions will cause the program to be less effective.

With funding from GiveWell donors, Malaria Consortium is running pilot projects in the two countries and collecting data on drug resistance. In Mozambique, Malaria Consortium is also running a randomized controlled trial of the impact of SMC on malaria cases.[7] We expect results in 2022.

Our new interventions team identified a number of promising new program areas to support.

As a result of this year’s research, we expect around $130 million will be given to cost-effective giving opportunities, including:

Malnutrition treatment: We’ve directed nearly $30 million (combined) to two organizations, the Alliance for International Medical Action and International Rescue Committee, for programs providing treatment to children with severe malnutrition. Based on our assessment to date, malnutrition treatment is a highly promising program area that may have large, cost-effective funding gaps.[8] We expect to direct more funding to malnutrition treatment programs in the near future.

Mobile conditional cash transfers to incentivize immunizations: We directed a grant of up to $25 million to IRD Global to support a mobile phone-based conditional cash transfer program to incentivize immunizations in Pakistan.[9] Beyond its high estimated cost-effectiveness, we’re excited about this grant because we believe the technology that enables IRD’s program has the potential to be leveraged for other interventions and may open up additional funding opportunities in the future.

Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in infants (IPTi):We became interested in supporting IPTi, or the provision of antimalarial medication to infants as part of routine immunization services, based on the academic evidence of its effectiveness.[10] However, there are no NGOs supporting governments to implement IPTi at scale.[11] Rather than deprioritizing the program due to lack of funding opportunities, we developed a plan to create programs in this space.

We sent a request for information to 18 organizations with demonstrated experience launching and scaling up malaria- or immunization-related programs in Africa, in order to identify organizations that seemed well suited to designing and implementing an IPTi program at national scale.

We ultimately directed a grant of $120,000 to two organizations, PATH and Malaria Consortium, to conduct a study of the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of integrating IPTi into the routine health systems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. Depending on the results of this study, we may recommend additional funding to implement the program at national scale in these countries.

We’re planning to publish more information about all of the above in the coming months.

We finalized three initial focus areas for high-leverage work within public health regulation and investigated grants in each of those areas.

In 2021:

  • We published an overview of why we decided to focus on alcohol policy, lead exposure, and pesticide suicide within public health regulation.
  • We expect to make $15-30 million in grants in those areas this year. So far, we’ve made $15 million in grants to Pure Earth ($8 million, lead exposure) and the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention ($7.2 million, pesticide suicide).

One other update from our high-leverage work relates to our work on COVID-19 last year. In March 2020, we announced plans to consider grants to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We expected the pandemic to be severe in low- and middle-income countries, where we focus our work. The preliminary results from Innovations for Poverty Action’s large cluster-RCT on mask use (which we funded in 2020) were released. The study received positive press coverage, the intervention is being scaled across South Asia, and a follow-up study is being planned.

We expect high-leverage work will continue to be a small portion of GiveWell’s work in 2021 as we focus further on opportunities that can absorb more total funding.

Updates to our impact estimates

This year, we’ve also completed a project to update our impact estimates—the numbers we share for outcomes and outputs of the charities we recommend. This includes, for example, the cost to save a life through a specific program.

You can see our updated estimates and learn about our general approach to creating impact estimates for the charities and funding opportunities we recommend in our new page on how we produce impact estimates.

As a result of these changes, we’re also no longer sharing our impact calculator. Because our new estimates are backward-looking, they aren’t compatible with a forward-looking tool.

Giving unrestricted funding

The Maximum Impact Fund is the best option for donors who want their donations directed to the most cost-effective opportunities we find within our top charities. However, for donors who are especially aligned with GiveWell, we hope you’ll also consider supporting our work with unrestricted funding.

Unrestricted funding can be used as GiveWell deems best, including for the support of our own operations. GiveWell is a nonprofit, and we rely on donations for our operations.

When you do this, you’re contributing to the research we conduct and share with the public—like all of the analysis that went into this blog post. We recommend:

  • If you’ve never given to GiveWell’s operations before, consider adding 10% to your donation in support of our work.
  • If you’ve supported our operations in the past, we hope you’ll renew your support.

If you’re worried about us getting too much funding, please know that our “excess assets” policy prevents us from holding more funding than we expect to need for our own work in the coming years. It requires us to grant any operations funding we hold over a certain threshold to our recommended charities, which can include both top charities and other organizations.

We also cap at 20% the proportion of our operating budget that any one individual or organization can contribute.[12] This helps us avoid overly relying on a single source of support.

How to give efficiently

In addition to our recommendations on where to give, we also have advice for donors who want to know how to give to maximize the efficiency of their donations. See our:

Ways to learn more

Additional information is linked below:

  • Our latest cost-effectiveness analysis of our top charities is here. Please note that while we dedicate significant resources to making these estimates, and while they are an important part of our work, we have significant uncertainty about the final figures. You can read more about this here.
    While we aim to maximize the good accomplished per dollar donated, these estimates are only one factor we consider when deciding how to prioritize among our top charities’ needs. We also consider charities’ qualitative strengths and weaknesses, the urgency of their funding needs, and other factors. Qualitative assessments of our top charities are available here.
  • Our up-to-date reviews of our top charities are linked from this page.
  • You can contact us at info@givewell.org or in the comments below if you have any questions about our recommendations.

Thank you for being part of our community. We hope you’ll join us in funding these excellent organizations!

Footnotes

Footnotes for this post can be accessed here.

The post Our recommendations for giving in 2021 appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

We aim to cost-effectively direct around $1 billion annually by 2025

Mon, 11/22/2021 - 15:00

A little over a decade ago in 2010, GiveWell directed around $1.5 million to the charities we recommended.[1] In 2021, we expect we’ll raise at least $500 million, and may raise as much as $560 million or more.[2]

We never anticipated that we’d grow this large this quickly. We’ve seen rapid growth from donors of all sizes, the most recent of which is a commitment of $300 million from Open Philanthropy.

While this growth comes with challenges—we’re working hard to hire enough researchers, apply here!—it’s a testament to our donors’ trust in us and enthusiasm for our mission.

But these big numbers are relatively small in the long-term scope of what GiveWell hopes to achieve. We believe there are billions of dollars’ worth of annual cost-effective giving opportunities that we have yet to identify.

We aim to find and fund around $1 billion of highly cost-effective giving opportunities annually by 2025. There’s an enormous amount of good that we can accomplish with our team and donors, and we’re excited to take on this ambitious challenge.

Our confidence in our ability to increase the amount of cost-effective funding we find—and our rapid growth—is driving some changes this year. While we could spend all of the funding we expect to raise in 2021 on opportunities now, we don’t think we should. We plan to roll over about $110 million (~20% of our forecasted funds raised) into 2022 because we expect the opportunities this funding would be spent on now are much less cost-effective than those we expect to find over the next few years.

There are tradeoffs to using funds later, but we think they strongly favor waiting for better opportunities. Our core mission is to help donors maximize their impact, not to get funding out the door as quickly as possible.

We will continue to raise funds, and our top recommendation to donors continues to be our Maximum Impact Fund, which grants funds on a quarterly basis to the most cost-effective giving opportunities we’ve identified at the time grants are made.

This year, GiveWell’s community of donors will have a larger impact than ever before. This is a thrilling milestone for us, as well as a powerful incentive to find more excellent funding opportunities to match our donors’ enthusiasm. Below, we’ll share more detail on our approach to funding, how and why we’re rolling over funds, and what it means for our donors.

Summary GiveWell aims to maximize impact

We search for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We’re not just looking for great opportunities to share with our donors, we’re looking for the best opportunities that meet our criteria.

We use cost-effectiveness analyses as a key tool to compare charities and programs. This helps us identify where donations will help the most per dollar. Because we compare between programs with different outcomes—for example, we compare programs that increase incomes to those that avert death—our cost-effectiveness model relies on concrete inputs (such as rates of disease in different regions) as well as judgment calls and subjective philosophical values.[3]

The most cost-effective funding opportunities can be multiple times better than even outstanding opportunities. This is true even among our top charities. GiveDirectly is an excellent, cost-effective charity, and one of only nine Top Charities that we recommend. Yet we estimate it’s significantly less cost-effective than Malaria Consortium. For example, we’ve calculated that funding to Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program in Burkina Faso is almost fifteen times more cost-effective than donations to GiveDirectly.[4]

This is reflected in our 2020 record of grants made from our Maximum Impact Fund or recommended to Open Philanthropy. In 2020, GiveWell made (or recommended) grants totaling about $43 million to Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program, and made no discretionary grants to GiveDirectly.[5]

We also don’t stop evaluating cost-effectiveness at the organizational level. Any one charity often presents us with multiple funding opportunities, and they can look very different! For example, in March 2020, we made multiple grants to Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program, including the following:

  • $3.4 million to distribute malaria medication in Burkina Faso at an estimated cost-effectiveness of $2,000 per life saved
  • $2.8 million to distribute malaria medication in Chad at an estimated cost-effectiveness of $8,000 per life saved

We direct money to the best opportunities we can identify. While we ultimately granted to both of the above, if we’d had limited funding, we would have granted only to the funding opportunity in Burkina Faso.

What our funding bar has been

We compare charities (and funding opportunities within them) using multiples of our impact estimate for GiveDirectly’s cash transfer program. For example, we describe opportunities as “8x cash,” indicating that we think it’s 8 times as cost-effective as GiveDirectly.[6]

We compare programs to GiveDirectly because its program is excellent, and it could absorb enough funding that we’re unlikely to fund anything less cost-effective in the foreseeable future.[7] In 2022, we plan to prioritize research that could cause us to update our estimate of GiveDirectly’s cost effectiveness (for example, evaluating spillover effects). For more on this, read: What could change our cost-effectiveness estimate of GiveDirectly’s cash-transfer program?

To this point, we’ve typically[8] funded opportunities that pass a relatively high bar: eight (or more) times as cost-effective as GiveDirectly. But it takes hard work to find these opportunities, and each opportunity can only absorb a limited amount of funding.

What do we do when we can’t spend at that bar

In 2021, we may need to direct as much as $560 million. While we have an excellent team of 22 researchers working on this full time, we haven’t been able to hire quickly enough to match our incredible growth in funds raised.

This year, we expect to identify $400 million in 8x or better opportunities. If our fundraising projections hold, we may have $160 million (or more) that we’re unable to spend at our current bar.

What we’re doing this year

We considered three options when deciding how to spend this pool of $160 million:

  • We grant it to GiveDirectly at 1x cash.
  • We lower our bar somewhat, but not to 1x cash.
  • We roll it over into next year to grant to more cost-effective opportunities in the future.

If we don’t have any better opportunities in 2021, and don’t expect to have any in the near future, it makes sense to grant these funds to GiveDirectly. But, if we think we’re able to find (for example) a 5x opportunity relatively soon, choosing whether or not to hold funds is the equivalent of choosing between donating $1 to GiveDirectly this year or giving to something a year or two later[9] that would have the same impact as giving $5 to GiveDirectly.[10]

We think we’ll find great opportunities this year and next. Driven by our goal to direct donations where they can help the most, we felt the decision was clear. Our highest priority is to help donors maximize their impact, not to get funding out the door as quickly as possible.

Given that, we expect to:

  • Direct about $50 million to 5-8x funding opportunities.
  • Roll over about $110 million to grant to future opportunities we expect will be 5x or better.

We expect that cost-effectiveness is going to decrease as we raise more funds, so it makes sense to lower our bar a bit. Our guess is that maintaining a bar of 8x (or higher) over the long-term is unlikely. We’re snapping up the best funding opportunities as quickly as we can identify them (and then snapping up the next-best). Over time, this reduces average cost-effectiveness. That’s a great outcome—saving lives shouldn’t be cheap.

This year, we expect to direct about $50 million to opportunities that are between 5x and 8x. This is an uncertain estimate based on our best guess projections of grants we haven’t yet finished investigating—you can read more on our estimate here.

For 2022 and beyond, we’re confident we’ll be able to increase the total amount of funding opportunities we identify at both 8x and 5x better than GiveDirectly. We’re hiring for our research team (apply here!), and have already grown from 8 researchers in 2017 to 22 in 2021.

Despite our limited capacity, we’ve made incredible progress in our efforts to quickly scale up the amount of cost-effective giving opportunities we identify. We expect we’ll direct over twice the amount of funding to excellent opportunities in 2021 ($450 million) compared to 2020 ($200 million).[11]

We think the cost of holding on to $110 million is low compared to the reduction in impact we’d see from granting this funding immediately. To use the same framing as above, we’re choosing impact equivalent to directing $550 million or more to GiveDirectly in the next few years over directing $110 million to GiveDirectly this year.

How it will impact your gift

If you give to the Maximum Impact Fund or to one of our specific recommendations this year, your donation will be granted out as usual to the outstanding giving opportunities we’ve identified.

We’ll roll only Open Philanthropy’s funding into next year—it’s our largest donor, and it’s easiest to manage rolling over a single large donation. Additionally, because we typically fund organizations a few years into the future, rollover funds—like the rest of our grants—are unlikely to actually be put to use until a few years after they’re granted.

We’ll grant all other donations on our typical timeline.[12] Because money is fungible, many gifts will effectively take the place of money that Open Philanthropy would have granted this year. The true impact of the donations we receive this year will be realized once we are able to spend down all available funding, with no rollover funds remaining. But additional donations today will still increase the total amount of funding to our recommendations over the next fews years.

We think that the total amount in cost-effective funding opportunities we identify (i.e., room for more funding) will exceed our total funds raised in both 2021 and 2022. But this estimate is highly uncertain due to our rapid growth. Our targets for total funding needs identified, and our projections for total funds available (broken down into new funds raised and rollover funds from the previous year), are shown below through 2025:

We don’t put a lot of stock in these specific estimates—we’ve grown unpredictably fast to this point—but in the short term, we think it’s very likely that we’ll have strong continued growth in funds raised that outpaces the funding needs we identify.

Why the opportunity to do good is still so large

While we’ve identified a limited number of cost-effective funding opportunities this year, many people still need help:

Donors can have an extraordinary impact. Just looking at the approximately $100 million GiveWell had discretion to grant in 2020[13]—a subset of all the money we directed to the charities we recommend—the impact of our donors is impressive. We estimate these grants will:

  • Save more than 24,000 lives
  • Treat over 6 million children with a full course of antimalarial medication
  • Provide vitamin A supplementation to over 8.6 million children
  • Deliver over 4.4 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to protect against malaria
  • Vaccinate 118,000 children
  • Treat over 11.4 million children for parasitic worms

While our top charities are extraordinary, it shouldn’t be this cheap to save or improve lives. We want to continue to expand our research to identify billions of dollars’ worth of annual funding opportunities. If we’re successful in raising funds to fill those opportunities, we’ll continue to see cost-effectiveness decline. We think that would be something to celebrate.

For additional details on how we produce impact estimates, see this page.[14]

We aim to find $1.5 billion in cost-effective funding opportunities by 2025

Over the past year, we’ve already accelerated our pace of research. Due to the incredible efforts of our research team, we’ve jumped from directing $200 million in highly cost-effective giving in 2020 to an estimated $450 million by the end of this year.

Our research is largely done by two teams:

  • Our top charities team, which focuses on continued evaluation of our top charities, as well as projects to increase the amount of funding those organizations can use cost-effectively.
  • Our new interventions team, which focuses on identifying new programs for GiveWell to fund.

This year’s growth comes from both teams:

Part of that growth has been driven by finding new opportunities within our current top charities. We expect to direct about $300 million to our top charities in 2021, compared to about $180 million in 2020.[15] That growth has been driven by funding program expansions into new regions, filling gaps where other funders withdrew support, and funding research to test and measure the impact of our top charities’ programs in additional locations.[16]

We also have promising opportunities in new categories that we’ve been investigating. In 2021, we’ve done in-depth investigations of malnutrition treatment, cash transfers for immunizations, and water treatment.[17] In 2022, we’ll continue assessing the possibility of expanded grants in these areas, investigate programs that reduce neonatal mortality, and look into other large-scale programs that target the ultra poor or leverage community health workers. Together, we think these programs can absorb extremely large amounts of funding.

We’ve already recommended significant grants to some of these programs this year. In 2021, we’ve directed about $29 million to organizations working on malnutrition treatment: $20 million to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and $9 million to The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA).[18] We have also committed to directing up to $25 million to IRD Global to fund a mobile phone-based incentives for immunization program. We may recommend further grants in 2021, and expect to recommend more in 2022.

We’ve set the target of $1.5 billion in funding opportunities identified by 2025 with the goal of exceeding the amount of funding we raise while maintaining a relatively high cost-effectiveness bar. If we raise significantly more—for example, $2 billion in 2022—we expect we’d drop our cost-effectiveness bar more quickly to keep pace with our growth.

This is an ambitious target, and we plan to update donors on our progress next year when we expect to have more insight into what we’ll be able to achieve in the long term.

We’re excited to find more excellent funding opportunities, and for the impact GiveWell donors will continue to have.

We’re committed to finding the most cost-effective places for your donation

Our donors trust us to direct their donations to the most cost-effective places we can find. We want our donors to be confident that we’ll find them the best opportunities available, navigate the hard tradeoffs while figuring that out, and share our process transparently.

We guess that we’ll probably have rollover funds at the end of 2022 as well, though our rapid growth makes our estimates especially uncertain. We currently estimate that we’ll have $870 million to grant in 2022 (including new funds raised and rollover funds from 2021), and $740 million of 5x (or better) opportunities.[19] We don’t put a lot of stock in these specific estimates, but we think it’s very likely that we’ll have strong continued growth in donations that outpaces identified opportunities, at least in the short term.

If we’re in a similar position next year, we plan on navigating it in the same way. We’ll direct donations where we think they’ll help the most, whether that means granting them immediately or rolling them into the following year.

Our Maximum Impact Fund is still our top recommendation for donors who want to help the most. We use our Maximum Impact Fund to grant to the most cost-effective funding opportunities we can find among our Top Charities.

What you can read to learn more

We know some donors may be nervous about GiveWell rolling money into 2022 that we don’t spend this year, or about what this means for the impact of their gifts.

We take those concerns seriously. The trust of our donors is incredibly important to us. It’s why we publish all of our research for public review, and why we report on our own mistakes.

If you want to hear arguments for (or against) donating to GiveWell this year, or dive into any of the details of rollover funding or Open Philanthropy’s donation, we have an extensive FAQ here.

A few sections we think may be especially helpful:

If you have more questions, you can also reach us directly at info@givewell.org.

Footnotes

Footnotes for this post can be accessed here.

The post We aim to cost-effectively direct around $1 billion annually by 2025 appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Why malnutrition treatment is one of our top research priorities

Fri, 11/19/2021 - 19:00

We believe malnutrition is a very promising area for charitable funding in the future. In 2021, we directed nearly $30 million to two organizations—The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) and International Rescue Committee (IRC)—working on malnutrition, and we expect to direct more funding to malnutrition programs in the future. (We have published a write-up about one of these grants here and will publish write-ups about the other grants in the near future.)[1] To give a sense of what we expect, we would not be surprised if GiveWell directs as much funding to malnutrition in the future as we have to malaria programs in recent years.

We haven’t written much about this cause, so we thought it was important to remedy that. In this post we will share:

  • What malnutrition is and the scope of the problem. While we have remaining uncertainties, we estimate that 45 to 210 million children experience malnutrition each year and that malnutrition increases their chance of death by two to seven times relative to children who aren’t malnourished. More below.
  • How NGOs and governments support treatment. NGOs and governments implement relatively simple programs to treat malnutrition.
  • Why we believe these programs are promising. In sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for nearly 25% of global cases and where we have the best understanding, we estimate that the total funding gap for malnutrition programs is between $350 million and $13 billion, at a cost of $2,000 to $18,000 per death averted.
  • What our remaining open questions are. We have open questions about the evidence, what it means for the likely effect size of the programs we’re supporting, and challenges to support organizations growing significantly to meet the large global need.

We’re not recommending that donors give to malnutrition programs at this time. We’ve filled the cost-effective funding gaps that we’ve identified. We’re investigating further spending opportunities and expect to direct additional funding to malnutrition programs in the future, but we don’t have specific recommendations for donors today. Now, we continue to recommend that most donors give to our Maximum Impact Fund.

A note on the estimates below

As you’ll note, most of our estimates involve very wide ranges. This includes our estimate for the number of children globally who experience severe malnutrition, the cost to reach them, and the cost-effectiveness of programs we might fund. We expect that some programs will be on the more cost-effective end of the range and some on the less cost-effective end, and much of our future work will be focused on finding programs that meet or surpass our current cost-effectiveness bar for funding recommendations.

What is malnutrition, and how big is its burden?

Globally, we estimate that between 45 million and 210 million[2] children experience malnutrition at some point during a year . Acute malnutrition refers to “wasting” (a significant weight loss resulting in an abnormally low middle-upper arm circumference, or low weight for height ratio) and/or the presence of nutritional edema (swelling caused by excess fluid retention).[3]

Malnutrition weakens children’s immune systems, which can make them more susceptible to and more likely to die from illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. We estimate that acute malnutrition increases the chance of death by two to seven times compared to non-malnourished children.[4] It also affects children’s growth and development.[5]

There are known solutions

NGOs and government health systems know how to treat acute malnutrition. Treatment can take place in an in- or out-patient setting, depending on the severity of malnutrition.​​[6] In both settings it generally involves providing ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), a nonperishable, calorie- and micronutrient-dense food designed for treating malnutrition, until children meet criteria for discharge.​​[7] Treatment for the most severely malnourished also includes a standard set of medical treatments to address any underlying complicating illnesses. For example, children with severe malnutrition are also given a course of antibiotics, since they may be more susceptible to infection.[8]

Based on our investigations to date, our understanding is that NGOs often support capacity-constrained government health systems to deliver high-quality treatment to children that need it by:

  • Supporting the identification of malnutrition in the community. Parents often don’t seek treatment for malnutrition—possibly because malnutrition is common in their communities, so they perceive their children as typical. NGOs aim to make it simple for caregivers to identify malnutrition episodes by providing them with color-coded bands they can use to check their children’s upper-arm size and, if it’s in the red or yellow zone of the band, to seek medical treatment.[9]
  • Providing training, mentoring, and supervision of health workers, or hiring additional staff when capacity is constrained. Health facilities can be understaffed, and existing staff often lack training on the latest protocols to effectively deliver malnutrition treatment. Hiring additional staff ensures there is enough capacity to meet demand (especially during “peak” malnutrition periods).[10] Ongoing mentoring ensures workers stay supported and motivated to deliver high-quality services.
  • Bringing treatment to difficult-to-reach communities through strategies like mobile treatment vans or covering caretaker transportation costs.
  • Ensuring that RUTF and other needed medical supplies are in stock. Depending on the context, this can include technical assistance to better predict demand, assistance with procuring supplies, and/or logistical support to get supplies to their destination.[11]
Why we think malnutrition programs are promising: cost-effective with large unmet funding needs

Malnutrition has a huge global funding gap. In sub-Saharan Africa alone (where we have the best understanding), we estimate that 10 million children are experiencing acute malnutrition (wasting) at any given time.[12] That implies that somewhere between 10 million and 46 million[13] children experience acute malnutrition each year, with 7 million to 38 million[14] of these children being untreated.

It costs between $35 and $805 to treat an episode of acute malnutrition.[15] This wide range indicates the substantial variation in program intensity and context. Some cost differences can be explained by illness severity (severe acute malnutrition is more expensive to treat than moderate acute malnutrition), but other factors like the density of cases and government capacity can matter just as much: on one hand, due to high fixed costs, the cost per treatment is driven by the number of children who need treatment in the targeted area (the higher the number of children who need treatment, the lower the cost per child); on the other hand, the strength of government services determines how many additional resources need to be mobilized to provide malnutrition treatment (as strong health systems have more existing capacity to treat malnutrition).[16]

When we crudely model these inputs, it implies that it would cost between $350 million and $13 billion[17] to treat all otherwise untreated episodes of malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.

If all of these children were treated, it could avert between 200,000 and 1 million deaths annually, for a cost of $1,600 to $18,000 per death averted.[18] This is roughly 2 to 17 times more effective than GiveDirectly’s cash transfer program, and places malnutrition treatment within the range of cost-effectiveness of top charities we have directed significant amounts of funding to.[19]

What are our major open questions?

Malnutrition is a new area of research so there are many uncertainties relative to recommendations we’ve made and refined over a longer period of time (e.g., malaria). In particular we would like to better understand:

  • The mortality rate for children who have acute malnutrition but do not receive treatment. Our estimates of mortality rates rely on historical observational data and on an analysis we have not vetted in detail.[20] Moreover, while we discount the initial estimates to account for limitations of the evidence and differences in contexts between historical studies and the programs we fund, we are very uncertain about the size of those adjustments. We are re-analyzing the data we currently use and hope this will help us refine our approach.
  • The extent to which NGOs increase treatment. In many areas, malnutrition treatment is available through government-supported facilities. We believe that NGO support causes more children to be treated than would have been by the government alone, but we are unsure about the size of the effect. Our grants support coverage surveys that will help us make progress on this question.

Beyond these key questions about the program’s benefit, a major challenge will be finding places that we’re confident in to fund. Two of the largest uncertainties we have on this front are:

  • Organizational capacity. The groups we’ve spoken with that deliver malnutrition programs have been subject to erratic funding streams that are often well below the needs of affected populations. Because of that, they have tended to scale programs up and down quickly in response to funding flows rather than invest in developing a long-term, stable foundation in any given place.
  • Identifying the most promising opportunities. Not every location is cost-effective, so it’s a journey working with grantee partners to find the places that thread the needle of lower costs, higher burden, etc. Although our rough calculation of the global funding need is very high, the portion of that gap that would be cost-effective enough to fund with GiveWell grants remains an open question. Based on our investigation so far, we would guess there are many cost-effective opportunities, though we remain uncertain about the precise number and size of such opportunities.
Conclusion

Overall, we see malnutrition as a very promising area for funding and further research. It potentially offers $1 billion or more in funding opportunities at cost-effectiveness levels that are consistent with our top charities.

We have many open questions and a long road to go to answer them. We are currently investing significant energy into addressing our uncertainties, and we look forward to sharing more updates about our progress.

References

Footnotes for this post may be found here.

The post Why malnutrition treatment is one of our top research priorities appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

GiveWell’s money moved in 2020

Fri, 11/12/2021 - 16:38

2020 was another year of tremendous growth. GiveWell donors contributed over $240 million to our recommended charities (our “2020 money moved”), a 60% increase from the approximately $150 million we directed in 2019. This is part of an exciting, long-term trend. Just a decade ago, in 2010, GiveWell’s total money moved was $1.5 million.[1]

We believe these donations will save tens of thousands of lives and benefit many others. This incredible impact would not be possible without the continued support and generosity of our donors. While our research enables us to identify and recommend highly cost-effective giving opportunities, our donors are responsible for turning those recommendations into real change for some of the poorest individuals in the world.

This post lays out highlights from our final 2020 money moved report and shares more details about how donors gave to GiveWell’s recommended charities in 2020.[2]

Summary of influence: In 2020, GiveWell influenced charitable giving in several ways. The following table summarizes our understanding of this influence.

Headline money moved: In 2020, we confidently tracked $244 million in money moved to our recommended charities, and via our GiveWell Incubation Grants program. This amount, which we call “headline money moved,” only counts donations that we are confident were influenced by our recommendations. This includes the grants we make through the Maximum Impact Fund. See Appendix 1 of our 2020 metrics report for additional details on how we calculate our money moved.

We also estimate that we are responsible for an additional $3 million in donations, but we are unable to attribute these donations directly to GiveWell. Because we are more uncertain about this influence, we do not include this amount in our “headline money moved” figure but include it in our “best guess of total money directed to charities” figure. [3]

The chart below shows the breakdown of our headline money moved into the following categories: grants that Open Philanthropy made to our recommended charities, donations from other donors to our recommended charities, and Incubation Grants. Please note that Open Philanthropy support (marked in gray) does not include funding it provided for GiveWell Incubation Grants, which are shown separately in purple. [4]

Money moved by charity (excluding Incubation Grants): Our nine top charities received the majority of our money moved. Our nine standout charities received a total of $2.2 million. Note that as of October 2021, we have discontinued the standout charity designation. [5]

Money moved by program (excluding Incubation Grants): Our recommended charities implement a variety of health and poverty alleviation programs. But some charities work on the same type of program. For example, we recommend four charities for their programs that support treatments for parasitic worm infections (deworming programs), and two charities for their programs to prevent malaria (Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program and the Against Malaria Foundation). Here, we look at the breakdown of money moved by program type.

The majority of our money moved, including donations to our Maximum Impact Fund, was directed to malaria prevention programs—followed by unconditional cash transfers, conditional cash transfers to promote vaccination, deworming, and vitamin A supplementation. Other programs each received less than 1% of our total money moved.

Money moved by size of donor: We also analyze our money moved by the amount that different donors give, which we categorize into six different “size buckets” (see the chart below, which excludes funding from Open Philanthropy).

A caveat: Our analysis of money moved by donor size is incomplete because for approximately 39% of donations (excluding Open Philanthropy), we do not have data disaggregated by individual donor. Among the donations we can attribute to individual donors, the amount of money given increased across all donor size categories compared to 2019. Details are available in the full report.


Donations supporting GiveWell’s operations: GiveWell raised $43.6 million in unrestricted funding in 2020, compared to $19 million in 2019. Donors who gave over $100,000, including Open Philanthropy, contributed around 84% of GiveWell’s unrestricted funding in 2020. GiveWell’s total operating expenses in 2020 were $8.5 million.

We have only retained a portion of our unrestricted 2020 revenue for operating costs, and will be reallocating the remainder to discretionary grantmaking. [6]

For more detail, see our full metrics report (PDF).

References

Footnotes for this post may be found here.

The post GiveWell’s money moved in 2020 appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Initial thoughts on malaria vaccine approval

Fri, 10/08/2021 - 18:24

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently recommended the widespread use of the malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS011We’ll use “RTS,S” as shorthand in this post. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); for children. It provides an additional, effective tool to fight malaria. This is great news!

We’ve been following this vaccine’s development for years and, in the last few months, have been speaking with organizations involved in its development and potential wider rollout.

Our work on RTS,S (and other malaria vaccines) is ongoing, and we might significantly update our views in the near future. But because we’ve been following its progress, we’re sharing some initial thoughts.

In brief
  • This vaccine is a promising addition to the set of tools available to fight malaria, but it’s not a panacea. We expect long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) and seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC)—interventions provided through two of the programs we currently recommend—to continue to be important in the fight against malaria in the near term.2
    • The parts of the WHO news release that we have bolded indicate that RTS,S should be used with existing malaria control interventions:
      • “WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus [said,] ‘Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.'”
      • “WHO recommends that in the context of comprehensive malaria control the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine be used for the prevention of P. falciparum malaria in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission as defined by WHO.”
    • Similarly, Gavi’s news release states: “The vaccine will be a complementary malaria control tool to be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention. This includes the routine use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying with insecticides, malaria chemoprevention strategies, and the timely use of malaria testing and treatment.”

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  • Simple comparisons of potential costs and effectiveness of RTS,S and SMC suggest that SMC could be more cost-effective (see below). But there are lots of unknowns about RTS,S that could change that.
  • We are actively looking into whether there are promising funding opportunities in this space.
  • So:
    • For the time being, this news does not affect our recommendations to donors. We do not know of a current option for individuals to donate to scale up RTS,S. We continue to believe that LLIN distribution and SMC are highly cost-effective, and some of the best giving opportunities available for donors who want to prevent deaths from malaria today.
    • We aren’t sure whether we’ll recommend funding of RTS,S in the future. That will depend on how cost-effective we estimate particular opportunities to be, which depends on the answers to the open questions listed below.
Simple estimates of cost and effectiveness
  • Cost.​​ SMC costs about $7 per child fully covered per year,3This is the average estimated cost per child in the four countries where we currently recommend funding for SMC. See here in the current version of our cost-effectiveness analysis. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_3').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_3', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); so it would cost $28 to cover a child for four years. Costs for RTS,S are far less certain. Two studies that seem like reasonable starting points suggest costs per child of between $304See Sauboin et al. 2019, Table 2. The average cost across five countries for administering doses to children is ~$30. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_4').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_4', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); and $40.5See Winskill et al. 2017, Table 1, row “RTS,S.” jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_5').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_5', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], });
  • Effectiveness. Our rough estimate is that RTS,S would avert 36%6“Children were followed up for a median of 48 months (IQR 39–50) and young infants for 38 months (34–41) after dose 1. From month 0 until study end, compared with 9585 episodes of clinical malaria that met the primary case definition in children in the C3C [control] group, 6616 episodes occurred in the R3R [4 doses of RTS,S/AS01] group (VE 36·3%, 95% CI 31·8–40·5)…” RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership 2015, “Findings” section jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_6').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_6', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); of malaria cases over four years.7We use four years because that’s the time period used in the trials (see the quote in footnote 6 above), and it presents an easy comparison with SMC and other child health programs we support that have annual costs. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_7').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_7', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); By way of comparison, we estimate that annual SMC would avert 53% of cases over the same time period.8In particular, we assume SMC averts 75% of cases during peak transmission season and that 70% of malaria deaths occur during this period. Because we also assume a 1:1 ratio between cases and deaths averted, this is equivalent to averting ~53% of cases in a year. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_8').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_8', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], });

Taken at face value, these figures could imply that SMC is 1.5 to 2 times more cost-effective than RTS,S. But these naive comparisons aren’t conclusive.9These comparisons are not equivalent to our full cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs). In complete CEAs, we use country-specific figures instead of averages, try to adjust for internal and external validity, and try to account for the counterfactual funding decisions of all contributors and the value of their funds (which we call leverage and funging adjustments). These adjustments can make decision-relevant differences to our funding recommendations. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_9').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_9', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], });

Open questions

There are many open questions whose answers could have a big impact on the cost-effectiveness of a particular opportunity to support RTS,S. Some questions that seem important to us are:

  • What will it cost to deliver RTS,S? The cost estimates we’ve seen vary widely, and we expect delivery costs to vary from country to country.
  • Will RTS,S be delivered via routine immunization systems or targeted immediately before seasonal malaria transmission? Routine immunization systems might be less costly, but seasonal delivery could increase effectiveness.
  • How will RTS,S be layered with other malaria interventions in new implementation areas? We haven’t thoroughly investigated how the presence of LLINs and SMC in addition to RTS,S affect its efficacy in trial contexts, and we’re unsure how layering would affect the cost-effectiveness of delivering RTS,S in new areas.
In conclusion

We’re excited to have another effective tool in the fight against malaria! We’re working to understand whether there are cost-effective opportunities to support wider-scale implementation of RTS,S. Our research team is also keeping an eye on other potential malaria vaccines and malaria control strategies more generally. In the meantime, we anticipate continuing to recommend funding for LLINs and SMC.

Notes[+]

Notes ↑1 We’ll use “RTS,S” as shorthand in this post. ↑2
  • The parts of the WHO news release that we have bolded indicate that RTS,S should be used with existing malaria control interventions:
    • “WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus [said,] ‘Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.'”
    • “WHO recommends that in the context of comprehensive malaria control the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine be used for the prevention of P. falciparum malaria in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission as defined by WHO.”
  • Similarly, Gavi’s news release states: “The vaccine will be a complementary malaria control tool to be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention. This includes the routine use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying with insecticides, malaria chemoprevention strategies, and the timely use of malaria testing and treatment.”

↑3 This is the average estimated cost per child in the four countries where we currently recommend funding for SMC. See here in the current version of our cost-effectiveness analysis. ↑4 See Sauboin et al. 2019, Table 2. The average cost across five countries for administering doses to children is ~$30. ↑5 See Winskill et al. 2017, Table 1, row “RTS,S.” ↑6 “Children were followed up for a median of 48 months (IQR 39–50) and young infants for 38 months (34–41) after dose 1. From month 0 until study end, compared with 9585 episodes of clinical malaria that met the primary case definition in children in the C3C [control] group, 6616 episodes occurred in the R3R [4 doses of RTS,S/AS01] group (VE 36·3%, 95% CI 31·8–40·5)…” RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership 2015, “Findings” section ↑7 We use four years because that’s the time period used in the trials (see the quote in footnote 6 above), and it presents an easy comparison with SMC and other child health programs we support that have annual costs. ↑8 In particular, we assume SMC averts 75% of cases during peak transmission season and that 70% of malaria deaths occur during this period. Because we also assume a 1:1 ratio between cases and deaths averted, this is equivalent to averting ~53% of cases in a year. ↑9 These comparisons are not equivalent to our full cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs). In complete CEAs, we use country-specific figures instead of averages, try to adjust for internal and external validity, and try to account for the counterfactual funding decisions of all contributors and the value of their funds (which we call leverage and funging adjustments). These adjustments can make decision-relevant differences to our funding recommendations. function footnote_expand_reference_container_13408_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13408_1').show(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13408_1').text('−'); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container_13408_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13408_1').hide(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13408_1').text('+'); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container_13408_1() { if (jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13408_1').is(':hidden')) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13408_1(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container_13408_1(); } } function footnote_moveToReference_13408_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13408_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery( 'html, body' ).delay( 0 ); jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor_13408_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13408_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery( 'html, body' ).delay( 0 ); jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } }

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We’re discontinuing the standout charity designation

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 15:00

We aim to maximize our impact. That means we focus on directing funds as cost-effectively as we can. Rather than recommending a long list of potential giving options, we focus on finding the organizations that save or improve lives the most per dollar.1We focus on providing a short list of impact-maximizing options that we have intensely vetted. We don’t aim to recommend a long list of potential options for donors. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13382_1_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13382_1_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], });

Going forward, we will no longer publish a list of standout charities alongside our list of top charities. We think our standout charities are excellent, but we believe donors should support top charities.2For example, in a 2019 blog post on standout charities (“What are standout charities?”), we wrote: “We don’t advise giving to our standout charities over our top charities because we believe that top charities have a greater impact per dollar donated. By definition, top charities have cleared a higher bar of review from GiveWell.” jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13382_1_2').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13382_1_2', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], });

Removing standout charities will lead our website to better reflect our recommendations for donors. We hope it will reduce confusion about the difference between top and standout charities and help us direct funding as cost-effectively as possible.

We continue to see the nine standout charities we’ve shared as very strong organizations. This decision doesn’t in any way reflect changes in our evaluation of their programs.

What are standout charities?

We define standout charities as follows:

Standout charities “support programs that may be extremely cost-effective and are evidence-backed. We do not feel as confident in the impact of these organizations as we do in our top charities. However, we have reviewed their work and believe these groups stand out from the vast majority of organizations we have considered in terms of the evidence base for the program they support, their transparency, and their potential cost-effectiveness.”

In other words, we expect that funds directed to top charities are more likely to have a significant impact than those directed to standout charities. We created the standout charity designation to recognize organizations we reviewed that didn’t quite meet our criteria to be top charities, but were very good relative to most. We also hoped the designation would incentivize organizations to engage in our intensive review process.3We discussed this in “What are standout charities?” jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13382_1_3').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13382_1_3', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], });

Confusion between top charities and standout charities

However, we’ve realized that it’s confusing to have two different designations for organizations on our website.4In the 2019 blog post referenced above, we wrote: “The standout charity designation, though valuable for the reasons mentioned above, has created communication challenges for us. People who rely on our recommendations to make donations have expressed confusion about how our view of standout charities compares to that of top charities.” jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13382_1_4').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13382_1_4', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); Our recommendation for donors is (and always has been) to give to top charities. Our number-one recommendation for GiveWell donors who want to do as much good as possible is to give to our Maximum Impact Fund, which is allocated to the most cost-effective funding opportunities among our top charities. We don’t allocate the Maximum Impact Fund to standout charities.

Maintaining a list of standout charities for donors is not consistent with our goal of directing funds as cost-effectively as possible.

No changes in our evaluation of standout charities

We made this decision by thinking through how we can communicate more clearly—it wasn’t spurred by any change whatsoever in our views of the standout charities we’ve featured.

Going forward

We think our standout charities are doing great work, even though we’re discontinuing the “standout charity” designation. We’ve recommended that Open Philanthropy make a $100,000 exit grant to each standout charity on our list.

We’re no longer accepting donations for standout charities. We’re contacting donors who have recurring donations set up for our standout charities. If you have an open recurring donation and you haven’t heard from us, please contact us to make sure we accommodate your preferences for cancelling or redirecting your donations.

If you’d like to continue to donate to any of the standout charities, you can do so at the following links. (Note: the links below show tax-deductible options for donors based in the United States. If you’re donating from another country and interested in information on tax-deductibility, please check each organization’s website or contact it directly.)

If you have any questions about your donations, please don’t hesitate to contact us at donations@givewell.org.

Notes[+]

Notes ↑1 We focus on providing a short list of impact-maximizing options that we have intensely vetted. We don’t aim to recommend a long list of potential options for donors. ↑2 For example, in a 2019 blog post on standout charities (“What are standout charities?”), we wrote: “We don’t advise giving to our standout charities over our top charities because we believe that top charities have a greater impact per dollar donated. By definition, top charities have cleared a higher bar of review from GiveWell.” ↑3 We discussed this in “What are standout charities?” ↑4 In the 2019 blog post referenced above, we wrote: “The standout charity designation, though valuable for the reasons mentioned above, has created communication challenges for us. People who rely on our recommendations to make donations have expressed confusion about how our view of standout charities compares to that of top charities.” ↑5 Please note that Precision Development’s mailing address has changed to 1150 Walnut Street, 2nd floor, Waltham, MA 02461. function footnote_expand_reference_container_13382_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13382_1').show(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13382_1').text('−'); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container_13382_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13382_1').hide(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13382_1').text('+'); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container_13382_1() { if (jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13382_1').is(':hidden')) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13382_1(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container_13382_1(); } } function footnote_moveToReference_13382_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13382_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery( 'html, body' ).delay( 0 ); jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor_13382_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13382_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery( 'html, body' ).delay( 0 ); jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } }

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September 2021 open thread

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 11:45

Our goal with hosting quarterly open threads is to give blog readers an opportunity to publicly raise comments or questions about GiveWell or related topics (in the comments section below). As always, you’re also welcome to email us at info@givewell.org or to request a call with GiveWell staff if you have feedback or questions you’d prefer to discuss privately. We’ll try to respond promptly to questions or comments.

You can view previous open threads here.

The post September 2021 open thread appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

June 2021 open thread

Mon, 06/14/2021 - 09:04

Our goal with hosting quarterly open threads is to give blog readers an opportunity to publicly raise comments or questions about GiveWell or related topics (in the comments section below). As always, you’re also welcome to email us at info@givewell.org or to request a call with GiveWell staff if you have feedback or questions you’d prefer to discuss privately. We’ll try to respond promptly to questions or comments.

You can view previous open threads here.

The post June 2021 open thread appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Early signs show that you gave more in 2020 than 2019—thank you!

Tue, 05/11/2021 - 11:40

Our donor community appears to have given significantly more in 2020 than 2019, according to early data on donations we processed.

Growth was strong relative to previous years—even 2019, which also had strong growth—and across many different dimensions. Overall, donations to GiveWell more than doubled in 2020.

We estimate that these donations will collectively save more than 12,000 lives; provide over 2 million deworming treatments to children, leading to an approximate increase in that group’s lifetime earnings of more than $21 million; and deliver almost 3,000 cash transfers to low-income households. For simplicity, the impact estimates in this paragraph exclude some donation types, and so don’t represent the full impact of donations to GiveWell in 2020.[1]

“Donations to GiveWell” refers to donations that we received directly:

  • It includes donations to GiveWell for our recommended organizations—including for the Maximum Impact Fund—and unrestricted funding, which may be used for our operations.[2]
  • It excludes donations that were made directly to our recommended organizations (via their own donation platforms) as a direct result of our research, or to other groups that accept donations for GiveWell and/or our recommended organizations, since we don’t yet have complete information about those donations.[3] It also excludes GiveWell Incubation Grant funding.[4] Most donations from Open Philanthropy, a major philanthropic grantmaker with which we work closely, are part of this excluded category because they were made directly to our recommended organizations.[5]We expect these excluded donations to account for a large proportion of total funding we influenced last year. For example, in 2019, we received $54.9 million in “donations to GiveWell.” When we received complete information about donations made directly to our recommended organizations or groups supporting them due to our research, and included them in our assessment of our influence, the amount of money we tracked increased to $155.1 million.[6]

While this post is only a preliminary look at our donors’ collective giving last year, the early signs show incredible growth. Thank you to our donor community!

The takeaway: donations to GiveWell more than doubled

We received more than twice as much funding in 2020 as we did in 2019.

Please click to see larger image.

All amounts are rounded to the nearest $100,000. This chart excludes most support from Open Philanthropy and most GiveWell Incubation Grants.[7]

A caveat: we can slice our data in many different ways. Please take care when comparing the figures in this post to previously-published data on our metrics, which may include or exclude donations differently. (And don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments!)

The details: growth was strong across many dimensions last year

Amount given by donor size category

In 2020, we saw growth in total donations from every donor size category.

Please click to see larger image.

All amounts are rounded to the nearest $100,000. Donors’ size buckets are determined by their total giving over the course of the metrics year.

Amount of unrestricted funding

Donors collectively gave more than twice as much unrestricted funding in 2020 as in 2019.

Unrestricted support is especially valuable to us because of its flexibility. We use it to support our operations and may grant it to our recommended organizations, following our “excess assets” policy, which caps the amount of funding we can hold for our own work.

Please click to see larger image.

All amounts are rounded to the nearest $100,000.

We expect to grant a portion of the unrestricted support we received in 2020 to organizations we recommend.

Number of donors

The total number of donors who gave to GiveWell in 2020 was up 67% from the previous year. Over 40,000 donors gave to GiveWell last year.

Please click to see larger image. What caused this growth? (It’s hard to say!)

As far as we can tell, the vast majority of our growth was organic: people found GiveWell and donated, for reasons we can’t directly attribute to our outreach efforts. For example, people may have searched for “effective donations” online and landed on GiveWell’s website, or heard about GiveWell from a friend and decided to donate.

It’s difficult to measure the impact of our outreach activities, such as advertising, on our growth. Many donors neither report what causes them to donate (by filling out our donor survey) nor give in such a way that we can independently determine what led them to give (for example, by donating through a custom link we share on a podcast advertisement).

Even when donors do report their donation as being due to a particular activity, we may still be missing important parts of the story. For example, if someone donates because their friend told them about GiveWell, and the friend heard about GiveWell through a podcast, we would guess the donor would be likely to report this as a “personal referral” and that we wouldn’t know that the podcast played a role at all. This challenge, while not unique to GiveWell, makes it difficult to tell satisfying stories about what leads people to give.

That said, we do have some limited data. In 2020, we tracked about $5 million in growth that was directly due to our outreach efforts. Now, moving into the realm of speculation: we know that 2020 was an unusual year, and it’s likely that some donations are attributable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the United States’ Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was designed to encourage charitable giving.[8] Several large donors told us that the CARES Act influenced the amount they gave last year. More speculatively, while many people have experienced economic hardship due to the pandemic, for some donors pandemic restrictions in activities last year might have freed up some disposable income, which they chose to donate. It seems likely to us that these factors contributed to the growth that we saw among our donor community.

We’ll publish a complete metrics report later this year

For now, we’re celebrating this early positive news and the huge impact that our donor community had last year. Thank you for your generosity during this difficult time.

The post Early signs show that you gave more in 2020 than 2019—thank you! appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Update on Board meeting transparency

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 12:29

One of GiveWell’s organizational values is maintaining a high degree of transparency about our work. As part of our transparency efforts, we’ve published written materials and audio recordings from each meeting of GiveWell’s Board of Directors since we were founded.

We recently increased the quality of and level of detail in the written materials we share with our Board members prior to each meeting. We made this update to improve our engagement with our Board. As we’re continuing to publish these written materials, this update will also improve our public transparency.

We’ve decided to stop publishing audio recordings going forward, as we don’t think they were very helpful to understanding our work and there were costs to producing them.

Overall, we believe that our updated written Board materials provide a better view of our governance than the previous combination of less-detailed written materials and audio.

As no longer sharing audio is the end of a longstanding practice, we want to explain in a bit more detail what you can expect from our Board meeting materials going forward and why we’re making this change.

Why we share Board meeting materials

We’ve published materials from our Board meetings since GiveWell was founded in 2007. While we don’t share everything publicly—we redact sensitive or confidential information, such as details about staff performance (more here)—the amount we share is uncommon in the nonprofit sector. Our aim is to be open about key topics and questions related to GiveWell’s progress and future plans.

We’ve increased Board engagement through written materials, which we publish on our website

Before each meeting, we share written materials with Board members.1You can see an example of the materials here, under “Attachments.” jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13254_1_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13254_1_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); We’ve recently set the goal of using these materials to tell Board members approximately everything they need to know about the topics on the meeting agenda, which means these materials are more substantive now. In the past, we weren’t committed to writing everything down.

We now ask the Board to closely review the materials before each meeting so that they can send us questions, which we answer in writing. Meetings center on any remaining questions about our written responses.

We publish all of these materials on our website after each meeting, including (starting with the August 2020 meeting) Board member questions and our answers.

We’re no longer publishing audio recordings due to limited benefit

Our transparency goal is to be open about our governance. We don’t think sharing Board audio meaningfully increases our openness, and it involves costs.

Board meetings tend to focus on in-depth discussion of a small number of issues rather than the overall story of our progress and priorities. Given that, we don’t think meeting audio by itself adds much to our audience’s overall understanding of our work. As with written materials, there’s a cost to publishing audio; redacting sensitive information takes time. We also suspect that recording the meetings for publication imposed minor costs on the quality of the discussions.

Taking these costs into consideration along with the limited benefits, we’ve decided to stop publishing meeting audio. The August 2020 meeting, materials from which were published today, is the last one for which we expect to publish audio.

We remain committed to transparency

Although we’re ending the practice of sharing audio, we remain committed to significant transparency about our governance and believe that we’re better achieving our goals through the improvements we’ve made to our written materials.

We would appreciate hearing from you in the comments if you have any feedback on our approach.

Notes[+]

↑1 You can see an example of the materials here, under “Attachments.” function footnote_expand_reference_container_13254_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13254_1').show(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13254_1').text('−'); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container_13254_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13254_1').hide(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13254_1').text('+'); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container_13254_1() { if (jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13254_1').is(':hidden')) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13254_1(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container_13254_1(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor_13254_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13254_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } }

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March 2021 open thread

Wed, 03/24/2021 - 13:07

Our goal with hosting quarterly open threads is to give blog readers an opportunity to publicly raise comments or questions about GiveWell or related topics (in the comments section below). As always, you’re also welcome to email us at info@givewell.org or to request a call with GiveWell staff if you have feedback or questions you’d prefer to discuss privately. We’ll try to respond promptly to questions or comments.

You can view previous open threads here.

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Donors in the Netherlands can now make tax-deductible gifts through GiveWell

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 12:54

We’re excited to announce that donations to GiveWell are now tax-deductible in the Netherlands!

Dutch donors can make donations on the GiveWell donate page. Our top recommendation for all donors is to give to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund, which we grant regularly to our recommended charities according to where we believe donations can do the most good.

Additional details for donors in the Netherlands

GiveWell is a registered Public Benefit Organization (Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling, or ANBI) in the Netherlands. Our status is listed here, under our legal name, The Clear Fund. Our identification number, or RSIN, is 8262.78.516.

We are happy to accept one-time donations, recurring donations, and five-year gift agreements (periodic gift agreements) for donors in the Netherlands. For general questions, please contact donations@givewell.org. Dutch donors who are specifically interested in setting up a periodic agreement should email operations@givewell.org.

Information for donors outside of the Netherlands

Our donors have requested additional giving options outside of the United States. The Netherlands is the first country in which we have registered outside of the U.S. We plan to register in additional countries going forward.

Current information about tax-deductibility for GiveWell donors outside of the Netherlands and the United States may be found here.

We would like to thank Effective Altruism Netherlands for their help with our registration process. Thank you!

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Do you have questions about giving in 2020?

Mon, 12/21/2020 - 14:00

Many people make charitable donations in December. If you’re considering making a gift in the coming weeks and you want more information before doing so, we’re happy to help!

We’re glad to answer questions in writing and on the phone. For written responses, please email donations@givewell.org or leave a comment on this blog post. For a phone call, please fill out this form to request a call with a GiveWell staff member.

We’re happy to field questions on topics like:

  • which organizations we recommend most highly today and why,
  • the pros and cons of different donation methods,
  • the tax deductibility of different giving options and the implications of the CARES Act for U.S. donors,
  • support for logistical questions about making a donation,
  • additional details on the Maximum Impact Fund, our top recommendation for donors,
  • and more.

We hope to hear from you!

The post Do you have questions about giving in 2020? appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

December 2020 open thread

Tue, 12/15/2020 - 14:49

Our goal with hosting quarterly open threads is to give blog readers an opportunity to publicly raise comments or questions about GiveWell or related topics (in the comments section below). As always, you’re also welcome to email us at info@givewell.org or to request a call with GiveWell staff if you have feedback or questions you’d prefer to discuss privately. We’ll try to respond promptly to questions or comments.

You can view our September 2020 open thread here.

The post December 2020 open thread appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Staff members’ personal donations for giving season 2020

Thu, 12/10/2020 - 12:13

For this post, a number of GiveWell staff members volunteered to share the thinking behind their personal donations for the year. We’ve published similar posts in previous years.1See our staff giving posts from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13135_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13135_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); Staff are listed alphabetically by first name.

You can click the below links to jump to a staff member’s entry:

Andrew Martin (Senior Research Associate)

It’s remarkable to me that the programs of GiveWell’s top charities—several of which we estimate can save a life for $3,000 to $5,000—are bottlenecked by limited funding. With additional funding, we expect that our top charities could scale up their work further or expand their programs to new countries.

I’m excited to make a very small dent in our top charities’ funding gaps by giving my annual donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund.

Catherine Hollander (Senior Research Communications Officer)

This year, I am planning to give 80% of my donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. I am excited to support all of our recommended organizations. I am glad for the research team to choose where my donation can achieve the most when it’s granted—plus, I look forward to the email letting me know what impact my contribution had.

I plan to allocate the remaining 20% of my donation to support criminal justice reform and the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). These decisions have been informed by the work of Chloe Cockburn and Alexander Berger at Open Philanthropy.

Most years, I save up and make all of my donations at the end of the year. While I am allocating the majority of my donation this year in December as usual, I also made several donations throughout the year to social justice organizations.

Devin Jacob (Technical Project Manager)

This year I am giving 22% of my donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. In previous years I have selected specific GiveWell-recommended charities to support, for reasons varying from greater confidence in specific interventions to placing less value on saving lives relative to improving lives. This year I gave most of my charitable budget away prior to the end-of-year giving season, and am choosing to give the remainder to the Maximum Impact Fund, where I am confident it will do a lot of good.

My other giving in 2020 breaks down as follows:

  • Social justice and policy-related causes – 25%. This includes organizations working on issues including immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement and criminal justice reform, COVID-related campaigns not related to health care, support for labor activism, etc.
  • Domestic political campaigns – 19%. I donated more than I usually do to political campaigns this year.
  • Nonprofit news organizations – 7%. For example, CalMatters, The Center for Investigative Reporting, etc. Much of this giving is done jointly with my partner.
  • Local charity, both formal and informal – 19%. This is a rough estimate of cash gifts to people in my community and a local mutual aid organization.
  • GiveWell-recommended charities, various – 7%. In the course of my regular work I make many small donations through GiveWell while testing payment platforms. These are spread somewhat randomly amongst our top charities, with occasional gifts to standout charities as well. I choose not to refund these donations, which results in a somewhat haphazard allocation of charitable dollars. I am comfortable with that because I believe all of the charities on our list do great work, and I’m not particularly concerned with optimizing the impact of all my donations.

Elie Hassenfeld (Chief Executive Officer)

We’re giving the vast majority of our donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. GiveWell’s top charities have huge, direct impacts on the people they serve.

We also gave smaller amounts to other organizations: ~10% to a political campaign, ~5% to support people in our local community who were struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and much smaller amounts to other organizations.

Isabel Arjmand (Internal Communications Officer)

With my annual giving, the most important thing to me is to have an impact on improving the lives of people who are in need and to play a small role in alleviating global inequality. I’m extremely lucky to be in a position to donate, and I believe I have an obligation to give away a portion of my disposable income. There is so much injustice and suffering one could address, but of all the issues in the world, global poverty and inequality is especially massive—and it’s an area where, thanks to GiveWell, I can have an impact.

So, I’ll be giving the vast majority (over 80%) of my donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. The Maximum Impact Fund is, as the name implies, the best place I know of to donate in terms of expected impact.

I feel conflicted about giving any of my annual charitable contribution to something other than the Maximum Impact Fund, because the most important aspect of my giving is how much it helps other people. But I’m inclined to support some other causes that I believe to be very important, but that lend themselves less well to GiveWell-style evaluations in some cases, and that in other cases may well be less impactful per dollar donated. The rest of my giving will go to:

  • Organization(s) working to address climate change. I haven’t chosen one yet, but I plan to look at the research done by Founders Pledge and by Giving Green, and also consider Earthjustice, which I’ve given to in previous years.
  • The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), to support and facilitate immigration to the U.S. I learned about IRAP through the work of Open Philanthropy.
  • GiveDirectly (in Africa, not its U.S. program). As a financially privileged person in the U.S., I like the idea of giving some cash directly to people who really need it. I essentially believe that in an ideal world, the distribution of global wealth would be radically different, and a donation to GiveDirectly is a small step toward and signal of support for that future. This donation is small because I expect the Maximum Impact Fund has a greater impact on global poverty per dollar donated.

I also made small donations to racial justice organizations and political organizing, and to directly support people in need, earlier this year. Those donations were more emotionally motivated and came out of what I’d otherwise have spent on myself rather than my charitable budget.

James Snowden (Program Officer)

This year, I’m giving all of my donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. GiveWell’s recommendations continue to be the best way I know of to help people.

Earlier this year, I considered giving to organizations working to address racial injustice in the United States or the U.K. I decided not to. My conception of justice is centered on inequality. The greatest source of inequality in the world continues to be the accident of where someone is born. I think I can do more to create a just world, as well as help people as much as possible, by continuing to focus my giving internationally through GiveWell.

Jim Bobowski (Director of Marketing)

Although not by design, my family typically gives in three categories about equally each year. One third is directed locally toward community programs (school, Scouts, sporting programs) that we have a direct connection with and need support. One third is directed domestically to causes outside of our community. The final third is directed internationally, so we consciously think about and help people who face incredible economic and health hardships.

Our end-of-the-year decision was made significantly easier this year. Since we contributed extensively to political races, we needed to allocate only our international giving, a task made easier through the Maximum Impact Fund. After a year working at GiveWell and seeing the rigor and care with which the research team approaches each funding decision, I am convinced there is no better way I can help people abroad than entrusting Elie and the research team to allocate my family’s donation.

We also decided to take a portion of our planned 2021 international giving and turn it into a recurring GiveWell donation, also directed to the Maximum Impact Fund. I am hopeful that doing this will make giving more naturally embedded in our lives. I’m also hopeful it will provide our research team a bit more funding throughout the year and flexibility over which programs they support.

Justin Loiseau (Senior Research Associate)

My partner and I focused our giving this year on three overlapping objectives: maximize impact, increase incomes, and reduce climate change.

  • To maximize impact, we gave to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. We especially like this fund because it allocates money based on timely opportunities and overall room for more funding among GiveWell’s top charities.
  • Since we personally place a higher value on increasing incomes relative to saving lives than GiveWell, we also gave directly to GiveDirectly. With COVID-19, we expect GiveDirectly’s transfers have had a greater cushioning effect on household economic shocks than normal.
  • We are in the process of offsetting our (current and future) family’s carbon footprints. Rather than directly offsetting via carbon credits, we believe radical policy change and innovation are more likely to mitigate catastrophic climate change. We are therefore donating our carbon-footprint-equivalent cost to organizations working on these issues. This year, we donated to the Founders Pledge Climate Change Fund to take advantage of its match offer, but would otherwise have donated to the Clean Air Task Force (CATF). The CATF is included in the Founders Pledge’s prospectus and is also recommended by IDinsight’s Giving Green initiative.

Miranda Kaplan (Content Editor)

Though I haven’t been as thoughtful as I’d hoped to be this year about charitable giving, I’m happy to report that the majority of my family’s total giving will go to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund.

My partner and I are longtime monthly donors to GiveDirectly, have remained so this year, and plan to continue that support in the future. We think the idea behind GiveDirectly’s work is important, and with our contributions we hope to both directly finance GiveDirectly and encourage the practice of empowering those living in poverty by providing them with cash they can use as they see fit. Ultimately, though, I want the bulk of our giving to do as much good as possible, and donating to the Maximum Impact Fund both is more cost-effective and allows GiveWell the flexibility to respond to changing levels of need among our recommended charities. Earlier this year, we committed to donating the federal stimulus payments we received in response to COVID-19, a total of $2,400; after many months of hemming and hawing, we’ve decided that all of that money will go to the Maximum Impact Fund.

Beyond that, my partner and I have made many small donations throughout the year to a number of causes, including organizations advocating for racial justice, journalism nonprofits, political campaigns, and individuals we know facing financial hardship here and abroad. Together these gifts made up probably no more than 20% of our total giving. In many of these cases, we felt fairly confident that a small amount of money would mean a great deal to the recipient and would be near-immediately forgotten by us. Though I hope to continue steering more of our giving to the most cost-effective opportunities possible, I imagine we’ll always reserve some of it for similar funding emergencies that are literally or metaphorically closer to home.

Natalie Crispin (Program Officer)

We will be giving our annual gift to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund.

GiveWell is considering a few options for allocating Maximum Impact Fund donations received in the last quarter of 2020, including both life-saving and income-increasing programs. We are unlikely to be able to close all of the highly cost-effective funding gaps we see this year, and I am excited to help narrow the gap.

I’ve had the opportunity over the last ten years to work directly with each of our top charities. In early 2020, it looked like this year would be very different from past years. At the start of the pandemic, it seemed inevitable that the programs our top charities support would be significantly disrupted, if not fully cancelled, for an indefinite amount of time. But these predictions did not play out, with most programs going forward close to their original schedules with modifications to keep health workers and program participants safe. This is in no small part because of the flexibility and dedication shown by the staff of our top charities and their partners in government health and education ministries, who redesigned programs, handled new logistical challenges, stepped up coordination in a time of remote work, and added new processes to already full workloads. I am very glad to be among their supporters.

Neil Buddy Shah (Managing Director)

The overall goal of my partner’s and my giving is to improve the well-being of living beings as much as possible. Therefore, we plan to split our giving this year roughly evenly between:

  • GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund, because it has incredibly cost-effective, direct impacts on saving and improving lives, better than anything I have been able to find elsewhere.
  • IDinsight, because of its work to ensure that large-scale poverty alleviation programs are informed by rigorous evidence on what is most effective. I also used to be CEO and co-founder of IDinsight and believe in its long-term potential to create large-scale improvements in people’s lives, especially through its partnerships with governments across Africa and Asia and with large, evidence-oriented funders and nonprofits like GiveWell.
  • Animal welfare causes, supporting a collection of opportunities to reduce animal suffering.

Nicole Zok (Content Editing Lead)

For the past few years I’ve been donating 10% of my income, which is what I intend to do ~indefinitely. I believe that most of my impact comes through my work, but also find it incredibly motivating that as an individual donor I can save multiple lives per year with my donations.

I feel like someone says this every year, but I think GiveWell’s research team is in the strongest position it’s ever been in, and I believe even more strongly than in previous years that our recommendations are some of the best opportunities I could give to. Since I want my donation to go where it’s most needed, I’m giving to the Maximum Impact Fund. When I’ve donated to this option in past years (what we previously called “grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion”), knowing that some of my own money was on the line made me feel a lot more invested when it came time to think about where to direct this funding. I think that’s a helpful motivator, though not a crux for why I chose this option.

This year in particular, lots of causes have tugged at my heartstrings. Humanity has come an incredibly long way in the past 100,000 years (I’d much rather be alive now than at any other time in the past), but it’s clear that there’s still a lot that could be better for the people on this blue dot. All of the reminders this year of the many ways in which people are suffering have really solidified for me that there will always be tons of causes in need of support, which makes me feel even more committed to spending my scarce resources in a way that I believe will do the most good (according to my values). I believe that my donation to the Maximum Impact Fund will save a couple of children’s lives, and I don’t know of anything I’d rather support.

Olivia Larsen (Philanthropy Advisor)

I’m very excited that I gave the vast majority of my annual donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund! I continue to be thrilled at the prospect of being able to donate to charities that can save a human life for just a few thousand dollars, and I’m very lucky to be in a financial position to donate.

With most of my annual charitable giving, I want to have as much of an impact as I can. But I also come across opportunities during the year to support causes I care about, and it feels important to me to contribute toward those (most notably, a few different bail funds in the United States) as ways to take tangible action toward values I hold, rather than spending on myself.

Steph Stojanovic (Director of Development)

My family committed to giving 10% of our income several years ago. We will likely split our giving between GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund and unrestricted support of One for the World. We think it’s important to support groups that introduce new audiences to effective giving. My husband is a former board member of One for the World, and we give to it because we think it is doing a good job of spreading the concept of effective giving to college and graduate students. If I didn’t work at GiveWell, we would donate to GiveWell in an unrestricted manner to support operations and outreach expenses, but it feels a little weird to pay some of my own salary in a roundabout way, so we chose the Maximum Impact Fund instead! It is the best way to maximally leverage GiveWell’s research expertise.

Teryn Mattox (Program Officer)

I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to make the world a better place through both my day-to-day work and my monthly giving. I am so proud of and excited by the work we do at GiveWell to find giving opportunities that improve the lives of the global poor, and I think the Maximum Impact Fund is one of the best ways donors can improve human welfare with their money.

I also strongly weigh the welfare of animals in the moral calculus that drives my giving. In 2020, my family decided to transition nearly all of our giving to organizations promoting animal welfare. I feel comfortable making this switch given the amount of time and energy I devote to furthering GiveWell’s work improving the lives of the global poor. We felt particularly compelled to do this based on the intensity of the suffering inflicted upon animals, the staggering numbers of factory-farmed animals being brutally tortured each year, the potential impact of our donations in reducing this suffering, and our beliefs about the importance of animal suffering. We give to a variety of organizations promoting farmed animal welfare, most of which are recommended by Animal Charity Evaluators. We also give to the Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Fund and give additional money to several of the charities endorsed by the fund.

Whitney Shinkle (Director of Operations)

I am a relative outlier among GiveWell staff. I believe strongly in GiveWell’s work and the need for effectiveness to be a critical consideration in deciding where public and private “development” dollars are spent. However, I also feel a particularly strong obligation to support people who are suffering harm caused by other people. There are a lot of nuances that could be drawn, but generally I am most concerned by war, criminal and political violence, and related social injustices. Not least among the reasons that I find them particularly galling is the degree to which these problems disrupt and prevent access to simple, well-known, cost-effective life improvements like basic health care, particularly for vulnerable people.

This year I am giving ~10% of my donation to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. I think all the programs GiveWell recommends do excellent work, and I trust the research team to identify where these funds can do the most good at any given time.

The remaining ~90% went to a number of organizations that work in areas less amenable to GiveWell’s particular analyses (though I hold out hope that future years might see more work in these arenas). I mostly donate to organizations with which I and/or respected colleagues have personal professional experience and that I believe to be making good efforts to demonstrate effectiveness.

Of this amount, the majority went to organizations that work on:

  • International conflict mitigation: supporting refugees and internally displaced persons, positive peace-building efforts, and economic redevelopment.
  • Domestic social justice: racial and restorative justice, immigration, anti-human trafficking, and anti-domestic violence.

A small minority was directed to organizations that address my concerns less directly. These organizations work on:

  • Specific political campaigns and democracy-building
  • Environmental conservation and climate change
  • Nonprofit news

My volunteer time this year went mostly toward U.S. political campaigns, as well as some advocacy on behalf of U.S.-based racial equity organizations.

Notes[+]

↑1 See our staff giving posts from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. function footnote_expand_reference_container_13135() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13135').show(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13135').text('−'); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container_13135() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13135').hide(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_13135').text('+'); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container_13135() { if (jQuery('#footnote_references_container_13135').is(':hidden')) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13135(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container_13135(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor_13135(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_13135(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.20 }, 380);/*duration*/ } }

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GiveWell’s money moved in 2019

Wed, 12/09/2020 - 14:50

GiveWell donors contributed over $150 million to our recommended charities in 2019. This is the first year in our 13-year history we have reached this remarkable milestone.

While it is easy to celebrate this large headline figure, we should not lose sight of the transformative impact this number represents, nor should we overlook the compassion and generosity of the donors behind these dollars. We estimate that donations made to our top charities in 2019 will:

  • Avert the deaths of between 19,000 and 32,000 people,
  • Provide parasitic worm treatments to over 12 million children, and
  • Deliver unconditional cash transfers to over 14,000 families.[1]

The research we do to identify and recommend charities is only one part of the equation—it is the generosity of donors that turns our recommendations into tangible impact. It is a privilege to partner with donors to create real, measurable change and to direct funding where it can make the most difference in people’s lives. Thank you to our community of donors.

While we shared a preliminary update in February on the funding we directed to our recommended charities in 2019 (our “2019 money moved”), we have since completed all data gathering to present a full and complete picture of funding in 2019. This post lays out highlights from our final 2019 money moved report and shares more details about how donors gave to GiveWell’s recommended charities in 2019.[2]

Summary of influence: In 2019, GiveWell influenced charitable giving in several ways. The following table summarizes our understanding of this influence.[3]

Headline money moved: In 2019, we confidently tracked $152 million in money moved to our top charities, standout charities, and via our GiveWell Incubation Grants program. This amount, which we call “headline money moved,” only counts donations that we are confident were influenced by our recommendations. This includes the grants we make through the Maximum Impact Fund.

We also estimate that we played a significant role in influencing an additional $20 million in donations, but we are unable to attribute these donations directly to GiveWell. Because we are more uncertain about this influence, we do not include this amount in our “headline money moved” figure but include it in our “best guess of total money directed to charities” figure.[4]

The chart below shows the breakdown of our headline money moved into the following categories: grants that Open Philanthropy made to our recommended charities, donations from other donors to our recommended charities, and Incubation Grants. Please note that Open Philanthropy support (marked in gray) does not include funding it provided for GiveWell Incubation Grants, which are shown separately in purple.

Money moved by charity: Our eight top charities received the majority of our money moved. Our eight standout charities received a total of $10.7 million.

Money moved by program: Our top and standout charities implement a variety of health and poverty alleviation programs. But some of our recommended charities work on the same type of program. For example, we recommend four charities for their programs that support treatments for parasitic worm infections (deworming programs), two charities for their programs to prevent malaria (Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program and the Against Malaria Foundation), and four charities for their food fortification programs. Here, we look at the breakdown of money moved by program type.

The majority of our money moved, including donations to our Maximum Impact Fund, was directed to malaria prevention programs—followed by cash transfers, vitamin A supplementation, deworming, and mass media campaigns. Other programs each received less than 1% of our total money moved.

Money moved by size of donor: We also analyze our money moved by the amount that different donors give, which we categorize into six different “size buckets” (see the chart below, which excludes funding from Open Philanthropy).

A caveat: Our analysis of money moved by donor size is incomplete because we do not have data disaggregated by individual donor for all of the donations we track as money moved—primarily as a result of new European privacy regulations that have led some of our recommended charities to share less-detailed data with us.[5] Among the donations we can attribute to individual donors, the amount of money given increased across all donor size categories compared to 2018. Details are available in the full report.


Donations supporting GiveWell’s operations: In expectation of organizational growth, GiveWell raised $17.3 million in unrestricted funding (which we mostly use to support our operations) in 2019, compared to $12.4 million in 2018. The 14 largest individual donors, plus Open Philanthropy, contributed 66% of GiveWell’s operational funding in 2019. GiveWell’s total operating expenses in 2019 were $5.9 million.

We restrict the amount that any one individual or entity can provide to our operations to 20% of our operating budget.

For more detail, see our full metrics report (PDF).

References

Footnotes for this post may be found here.

The post GiveWell’s money moved in 2019 appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Our recommendations for giving in 2020

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 13:21

You can have a major, positive impact today by choosing to support organizations backed by strong evidence: our top charities.

We recommend the nonprofits that offer the most impact per dollar we’re aware of. In fact, we estimate that you can save a life by donating $3,000-$5,000 to our top recommendation.[1]

If you’re a longtime donor, you’ll recognize most of this year’s top charities. You may even wonder why our list hasn’t changed much. However, a tremendous amount of research—truly thousands of hours—has been done to ensure that these organizations continue to meet our high standards. And although there are many familiar names, one is entirely new: New Incentives.

We’re proud to share our recommendations and grateful to you for considering supporting them. We hope you’ll read on!

Summary

In this post, we’ll cover:

How to give in 2020

Our nine top charities are the best opportunities we’ve found for donors to save or improve lives.

We conduct an intense, monthslong assessment of each top charity before determining it can be added to our list. All top charities meet our high standards for evidence of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and transparency. We believe they will use donations well.

However, our work to ensure that our top charities meet our standards isn’t the end of our process. We continually assess where funding is most needed within our list of top charities. Donors can support the highest-priority needs by giving to our Maximum Impact Fund.

The Maximum Impact Fund is our top recommendation for donors who want to do as much good as possible with their gift. We regularly make grants from the Maximum Impact Fund to our top charities. We direct these grants where we believe they will achieve the most good at the time they’re given.

Our top charities’ funding needs constantly change. For example, a top charity might identify an opportunity to work in a new country that requires more funding than it has on hand. Another might receive a large grant that fills its immediate funding needs. We continually monitor these changes and re-prioritize our top charities’ needs.

Giving to the Maximum Impact Fund is the best way to take advantage of our latest research and to ensure your donation is used as well as possible, even within this great group of organizations.

If you prefer to select an individual charity instead, our 2020 top charities are:

  • Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program
  • Against Malaria Foundation (AMF)
  • Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program
  • SCI Foundation
  • Sightsavers’ deworming program
  • New Incentives (new this year!)
  • Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative
  • The END Fund’s deworming program
  • GiveDirectly

They are listed in order of how we currently prioritize funding them. When we prioritize our charities’ needs at this time of year, we account for donations from the Maximum Impact Fund in the third quarter of the year and our recommendations to Open Philanthropy, the largest single donor to our top charities.[2]

Open Philanthropy takes GiveWell’s recommendations into account when deciding how much to grant to each top charity. Usually, we make all of our recommendations to Open Philanthropy in November. This year, we made some of our recommendations in November and asked Open Philanthropy to make a second round of grants to our top charities in January 2021. If other donors fully meet the highest-priority needs we see today before Open Philanthropy makes its January grants, we’ll ask Open Philanthropy to donate to priorities further down our list. It won’t give less funding overall—it’ll just fund the next-highest-priority needs.[3]

Our work on COVID-19

We spent several months in 2020 assessing potential giving opportunities that could mitigate the effects of COVID-19. We followed research about emerging needs and spoke with experts and charities, including GiveWell’s top charities, about the needs they foresaw or were experiencing.

As part of this work, we looked for giving opportunities outside of our top charities list that could be as cost-effective or more cost-effective than our top charities, although we had less confidence in the impact of these opportunities due to our short review timelines and the uncertain nature of the pandemic. We recommended six grants totaling $3,656,000.[4] Beyond these six, we did not find opportunities that we believed to be as or more cost-effective than our top charities.

Our top charities implement crucial, cost-effective health programs that are continuing even during the pandemic. However, it was important to understand how the pandemic would impact their work—they all support programs that typically involve direct contact with people, such as hosting community meetings and visiting people’s homes. We looked at how our top charities adapted their delivery models during COVID-19, as well as funding needs and plans that were disrupted due to the pandemic. Overall, the pandemic had a fairly modest effect on the cost-effectiveness and funding needs of our top charities.[5] We continue to recommend that donors support our top charities via GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund.

We plan to follow needs that continue to emerge due to the pandemic, which may lead us to make additional recommendations in the future.

Key research updates

All year long, we follow our top charities’ work to confirm that they continue to meet our standards and to understand their funding needs and plans. There are a few major ways in which we do this:

  • We speak with each top charity regularly. Depending on whether we have major open questions, we typically check in every one to four months.
  • We ask each top charity for detailed information on the delivery of its programs, so we can see if it’s successfully reaching people.
  • We ask each top charity for its latest spending information and what it plans to do next.
  • We monitor new academic research and conduct our own analyses to improve our understanding of our top charities’ programs.

This year, we completed several large research projects to improve our understanding of our top charities, including:

  • Digging deeply into AMF’s monitoring. Although we always ask our top charities for information on the delivery of their programs, we conducted a particularly deep investigation this year into how AMF monitors whether it is successfully reaching people with malaria nets.[6] We have higher confidence in our cost-effectiveness estimate of AMF as a result. (More)
  • Updating how long we expect malaria nets to last. An important input into our assessment of AMF’s impact is how long AMF-distributed malaria nets last. This year, we did an analysis to more accurately estimate the coverage we should expect from its nets. This was a major project, but it did not significantly change our estimate of the durability of nets, although we now have much higher confidence in our estimate. (More)
  • Improving how we model parasitic worm infections among populations reached by the deworming programs we support. We looked at data on the prevalence and intensity of worm infections to more accurately assess the impact of deworming treatments. We also updated the way we account for infection intensity. This project had a significant impact—sometimes positive, sometimes negative—on our cost-effectiveness estimates for the four deworming charities we recommend and led us to reprioritize their funding needs. (More in 2020 GiveWell cost-effectiveness analysis — version 2, “Deworm the World” tab, cell A41)

We also completed smaller projects, such as:

  • Better understanding and more transparently sharing how GiveWell-directed support for malaria charities influences other malaria funders. We now estimate the impact on malaria funders in each country, rather than using a general estimate across countries. However, because our estimates did not significantly change in the largest countries in which AMF and Malaria Consortium work (the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, respectively), the overall impact on their cost-effectiveness was small. (More)
  • Developing a new approach to modeling the impact of receiving vitamin A supplements on children’s future productivity and earnings in adulthood. In most countries, this led to a small decrease in our estimate of Helen Keller International’s cost-effectiveness. (More)
  • Surveying a subset of our donors to understand how they compare the value of averting deaths at different ages to use as an input in our moral weights. This update had a minimal effect on our cost-effectiveness estimates for our top charities. (More)

In addition to all of our work to improve our understanding of our existing top charities, we also researched new, promising programs and charities to potentially recommend. We’re excited to announce a new top charity this year: New Incentives.

Introducing New Incentives

New Incentives incentivizes caregivers of infants to complete a series of routine, potentially life-saving childhood immunizations by providing them with a small cash transfer when each vaccine is given. It operates in North West Nigeria, where childhood immunization rates are low.

We named New Incentives a top charity this year after considering many factors, including the results of a high-quality study of its program. The study was conducted from July 2018 to February 2020 by IDinsight and was funded by Open Philanthropy at our recommendation. Based on that study, we estimate that New Incentives increases the use of incentivized vaccines by 22 percentage points.[7]

The study results, combined with New Incentives’ track record and plans for scaling up, led us to calculate a high cost-effectiveness for donations to the program: $3,000 to $5,000 per life saved, comparable to our other life-saving top charities.[8]

You can learn more in our New Incentives review.

Giving to GiveWell’s operations

GiveWell is a nonprofit. We rely on donations for our own operations. If you’re using our research to guide your giving, we hope you’ll also consider supporting GiveWell.

When you do, you’re contributing to the research we conduct and share with the public—like this blog post and all of the analysis that went into it. We recommend:

  • If you’ve never given to GiveWell’s operations before, consider adding 10% to your donation in support of our work.
  • If you’ve supported our operations in the past, we hope you’ll renew your support.

If you’re worried about us getting too much funding, please know that our “excess assets” policy prevents us from holding more funding than we expect to need for our own work in the coming years. It requires us to grant any operations funding we hold over a certain threshold to our recommended charities.

We also cap at 20 percent the proportion of our operating budget that any one individual or organization can contribute. This helps us avoid overly relying on a single source of support.

How to give efficiently

In addition to our recommendations for where to give, we also have advice for donors who want to know how to give to maximize the efficiency of their donations. See our:

Ways to learn more

Additional information is linked below:

  • Our latest cost-effectiveness analysis of our top charities. Please note that while we dedicate significant resources to making these estimates and while they are an important part of our work, we have significant uncertainty about the final figures. You can read more about this here.

    While we aim to maximize the good accomplished per dollar donated, these estimates are only one factor we consider when deciding how to prioritize among our top charities’ needs. We also consider charities’ qualitative strengths and weaknesses, the urgency of their funding needs, and other factors.

  • Qualitative assessments of our top charities are available here.
  • Our up-to-date reviews of our top charities are linked from this page,
  • You can contact us at info@givewell.org and in the comments below if you have any questions about our latest recommendations.

Thank you for being part of our community. We hope you’ll join us in funding these excellent organizations!

Footnotes

Footnotes for this post can be accessed here.

The post Our recommendations for giving in 2020 appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Maximum Impact Fund update: We estimate GiveWell donors’ $15.3 million to the Against Malaria Foundation will save over 3,000 lives

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 13:07

Thanks to our donors, we have disbursed $23.3 million in flexible funding to our top charities this year. This generous, flexible support is worthy of celebration!

This post focuses on our decision to grant $15.3 million to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), which includes the $11.7 million that donors gave to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion” in the first half of 2020.[1]

AMF supports the distribution of insecticide-treated nets in areas with high rates of malaria. The nets stop mosquitoes from biting and spreading the disease. We estimate our donors’ support for AMF will collectively save over 3,000 lives, mostly of young children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Guinea.[2] Without this grant, we think net distributions in DRC and Guinea would have been delayed.

We believe that AMF was the highest-impact choice for this grant. We chose AMF after assessing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our top charities, the urgency of our top charities’ funding needs, and our estimates of their impact per dollar. We’re grateful for GiveWell donors’ trust in providing flexible funding to fill this need.

Why we chose AMF

We typically allocate flexible donations to our top charities every quarter. However, we delayed allocating the donations we received to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion” in the first quarter of 2020. We wanted to better understand the impact of the growing COVID-19 pandemic on charities’ budgets and plans before making a decision about where funding would have the greatest impact.

AMF was a top contender for receiving this grant because of its high estimated impact per dollar. It is continuing its work during the pandemic, with some delays and modifications.[3] However, we wanted to resolve a couple open questions about its work before making a grant.[4]

First, we wanted to make sure that AMF needed additional funding. At the end of 2019, it held around $70 million that was earmarked for specific distributions, but we were unsure how much of this funding would be formally committed.[5] As of June 2020, AMF had committed nearly all of this funding and held only around $4 million in uncommitted funds.[6] Distributions AMF hoped to carry out in DRC and Guinea in late 2021 to early 2022 would require significantly more than $4 million.[7] There is a strong case the distributions would be delayed without this grant, as funding needs to be secured well before nets are provided.[8]

Second, we wanted to confirm that AMF had solid processes for checking that nets reached their intended recipients and were in use and in good condition. We expect strong monitoring from all of our top charities. We investigated AMF’s current monitoring practices in detail this year and believe AMF meets our high standards.[9] We plan to share more about this work in the coming months.

Other options considered

We considered making grants to Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program and Helen Keller International (HKI)’s vitamin A supplementation program, as we estimated that they were similarly cost-effective to AMF when we began our decisionmaking process. However, our investigation into their current plans and budgets did not turn up urgent funding needs. We had directed an $8 million grant to Malaria Consortium’s SMC program in June because of its high estimated cost-effectiveness, and we did not believe that it had additional time-sensitive needs following receipt of those funds.[10] We decided to wait until the end of the year to revisit making grants to Malaria Consortium and HKI.[11]

AMF emerged as our clear choice with its time-sensitive need for funding that we estimated would save a lot of lives.

Our bottom line for donors giving today

Going forward, we recommend that donors give to the Maximum Impact Fund (formerly known as “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion”). We will direct these funds where we believe they can be used most effectively.

We expect the $15.3 million grant to cover most of AMF’s urgent needs. For donors who wish to support a specific charity today, we recommend Malaria Consortium’s SMC program. We now model donations there as having the highest impact among our top charities.

We expect donations to Malaria Consortium will support its work in 2022. Providing funding to enable work in the future can be a high-impact option for donors, and we believe that supporting Malaria Consortium today is a great choice for donors seeking to maximize the good they accomplish per dollar donated.

We’re so grateful to our community of donors for providing flexible funding that will support the distribution of nets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea. Thank you!

References

Sources and footnotes for this post may be found here.

The post Maximum Impact Fund update: We estimate GiveWell donors’ $15.3 million to the Against Malaria Foundation will save over 3,000 lives appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

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