The Givewell Blog All Categories (update page version)

June 2022 open thread

3 weeks 2 days ago

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). 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.

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Miranda Kaplan

Neil Buddy Shah has been appointed CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative

2 months 2 weeks ago

I am excited to share that GiveWell Managing Director Buddy Shah has been appointed CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), a major global health organization working across a range of issues including malaria prevention and maternal and neonatal health. This news is bittersweet for me. I’m sad to be losing the talent, advice, and thought partnership Buddy brought to GiveWell, but I’m thrilled that he is taking up this position—the global health sector will be stronger for it.

CHAI is gaining a great leader in Buddy. But perhaps more importantly for GiveWell and our supporters, this appointment is a signal that effective giving is contributing to more corners of the global health landscape than ever before. Buddy is a strong champion of impact maximization, and I am excited that he will apply this lens in his new role.

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Elie

A major update in our assessment of water quality interventions

2 months 3 weeks ago

As we continue to grow, GiveWell seeks to maximize both the cost-effectiveness of the funding we direct and the likely room for more funding of the programs we support. We think we've identified a category of interventions that rates really well on both: water treatment, such as chlorination.

This is a major update for us. Before 2020, based on the available evidence, we didn’t believe that water quality interventions had a large enough effect on mortality to make them a competitive target for funding. We've since seen new evidence that has led us to significantly increase our estimate of the mortality reduction in young children that's attributable to these interventions: a 14% reduction in mortality from any cause, up from around 3%.

Though we have remaining uncertainties about these numbers, we’ve substantially updated our view of the promisingness of water treatment. Where we previously found that Evidence Action's Dispensers for Safe Water program was about as cost-effective as unconditional cash transfers, we now believe it's about four to eight times as cost-effective, depending on the location. That was a primary factor in our decision to recommend a grant of up to $64.7 million to Dispensers for Safe Water in January 2022.

We're sharing this news in brief form before we've published a grant page, because we're excited about the potential of this grant and what it represents. It's an area of work we haven't supported to a significant degree in the past, but one that we now think could absorb hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for cost-effective programming.

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Miranda Kaplan

March 2022 open thread

3 months 3 weeks ago

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.

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Miranda Kaplan

IPTi for malaria: a promising intervention with likely room to scale

5 months ago

Intermittent preventive treatment in infants (IPTi) for malaria provides preventive antimalarial medicine to children under 12 months old. It is among the most promising programs we've identified in our active pipeline of new interventions. It's also underutilized, and the population it targets is especially vulnerable to malaria. That implies potential to open up large amounts of room for more funding if IPTi begins to be used more widely—our crude estimate is between $50 million and $200 million globally once it's scaled—which is something we're increasingly thinking about as we aim to direct $1 billion in cost-effective funding by 2025. In September 2021, we recommended a small grant to Malaria Consortium and PATH to assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of implementing IPTi at national scale in two countries. We're hopeful that this scoping exercise will answer some of our many open questions about IPTi, and that this intervention continues to look promising as we learn more.

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Miranda Kaplan

December 2021 open thread

6 months 3 weeks ago

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.

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Margaret Lloydhauser

Staff members’ personal donations for giving season 2021

6 months 3 weeks ago

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. (See our staff giving posts from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.) Staff are listed alphabetically by first name.

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Isabel Arjmand

Our recommendations for giving in 2021

7 months 1 week ago

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

Just looking at the approximately $100 million 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

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Ben Bateman

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

7 months 1 week ago

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

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—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.

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Ben Bateman

Why malnutrition treatment is one of our top research priorities

7 months 2 weeks ago

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.) 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.

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Marinella Capriati

GiveWell’s money moved in 2020

7 months 3 weeks ago

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.

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Robin Dey

Initial thoughts on malaria vaccine approval

8 months 3 weeks ago

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.”

    jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13408_1_2').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13408_1_2', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], });

  • 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); } }

The post Initial thoughts on malaria vaccine approval appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Julie Faller

We’re discontinuing the standout charity designation

8 months 4 weeks ago

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); } }

The post We’re discontinuing the standout charity designation appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Elie

September 2021 open thread

9 months 2 weeks ago

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.

Catherine Hollander

June 2021 open thread

1 year ago

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.

Catherine Hollander

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

1 year 1 month ago

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.

Catherine Hollander

Update on Board meeting transparency

1 year 2 months ago

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); } }

The post Update on Board meeting transparency appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Catherine Hollander

March 2021 open thread

1 year 3 months ago

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 March 2021 open thread appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Catherine Hollander

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

1 year 5 months ago

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!

The post Donors in the Netherlands can now make tax-deductible gifts through GiveWell appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Catherine Hollander

Do you have questions about giving in 2020?

1 year 6 months ago

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.

Catherine Hollander
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