All Categories Blogs

More than a Spoonful of Medicine

6 days 5 hours ago

What does it take to prevent malaria? Some of the programs GiveWell recommends might sound straightforward—for example, seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) programs provide antimalarial drugs to young children—but the process of accomplishing this is not simple at all.

Below, we offer a post from Malaria Consortium that describes the many complex steps required to carry out an SMC campaign. See our reports for more information about the evidence for SMC and about Malaria Consortium's SMC program.

Read More

The post More than a Spoonful of Medicine appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

GiveWell Staff

Some Things We’re Reading

2 weeks 1 day ago

Today we’re sharing a few quotes from pieces we’ve come across recently in our work—claims have not been vetted, and (of course) interest is not endorsement.

  • The story of Ethiopian manufacturing—its rise, its faltering, and its potential for renewal—is an example, I believe, of where a little more empathy can lead to better economics.” (Oliver Kim, Global Developments)
  • “Every year, tuberculosis kills over a million people. Can a new vaccine turn the tide? For the last 100 years, we’ve only had one TB vaccine—and it leaves a lot to be desired.” (Jess Craig, Future Perfect)

Read More

The post Some Things We’re Reading appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

GiveWell Staff

100 Miles of Monitoring

2 weeks 5 days ago

We’re crossposting a blog post by New Incentives, one of our grantee organizations and Top Charities. New Incentives promotes vaccination in Northern Nigeria by providing cash incentives to parents and caregivers. Recently, one of New Incentives' field officers wrote about his experience collecting program data.

GiveWell asks all of our Top Charities to share detailed monitoring information, which we review to assess the quality of program implementation and the number of children reached. We also use this data as part of our cost-effectiveness analyses, which are the basis of our funding decisions.

We're sharing this post to provide a firsthand account of how that monitoring data is collected. We recognize that individual stories about a program can be misleading, as they can often highlight the best examples rather than typical cases. Still, we hope Sanusi’s experience opens one small window into the efforts our Top Charities take to ensure high-quality implementation.

Read More

The post 100 Miles of Monitoring appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

GiveWell Staff

Research Strategy: Water

3 weeks ago

Water is a relatively new area of grantmaking for GiveWell, but we’re excited about its potential. Two billion people around the world lack access to clean drinking water, and unclean water is a major cause of illness and death, primarily through waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera.

Within the water portfolio, we think about which specific programs in which specific places are likely to address these health burdens most cost-effectively, and what additional evidence we need to gather in order to make that determination.

In this blog post, we detail our current approach to our water portfolio, explore the areas we're excited to investigate next, and share the work we're doing this year to deepen our understanding of the sector. Through this work, we aim to make more highly cost-effective grants that bring clean water to many more people around the world.

Read More

The post Research Strategy: Water appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Erin Crossett

The fungibility question: How does GiveWell’s funding affect other funders?

3 weeks 5 days ago

How do GiveWell's funding decisions influence the actions of governments, funders, and other organizations? Answering this question is an important part of figuring out which global health programs are most cost-effective and thus which we should support. We've already written about two key factors in our cost-effectiveness estimates: the cost per person reached and the overall burden. But those are only part of the equation.

We also consider what others are likely to do in response to our choices. For example, does our funding displace money the local government had planned to allocate to the program? Or would our funding make other funders more excited to join us in making sure the program is implemented?

Wedding registries provide a loose analogy about how one person's decision might influence another's: If someone already bought the toaster on the list, you're probably not going to buy the lucky couple another one. The money that great-aunt Sally spent on the toaster has displaced the funding you had planned to allocate to the toaster: this is what we call “fungibility.”

In contrast, if the spouses-to-be have signed up for flatware service for 12 and only 6 settings have been purchased, you might prioritize filling out the remainder of the set, to be sure that the couple doesn't run out of spoons at their upcoming dinner parties. In that case, the guests who purchased the first 6 settings can "crowd in" funding from other guests: this is what we call "leverage."

Read More

The post The fungibility question: How does GiveWell’s funding affect other funders? appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Jeremy Rehwaldt

Increasing impact by combining programs

1 month ago

The idea has obvious intuitive appeal: If you’re already sending community healthcare workers door-to-door in (say) remote parts of Sierra Leone to deliver routine childhood vaccines, why not have those healthcare workers deliver chlorine for disinfecting drinking water, or oral rehydration solution for treating dehydration from diarrhea?

After all, if you’re already spending money on the fixed costs of delivery, why not provide other programs at the same time? You'd be able to amortize the costs across multiple goods and offer additional benefits to the community. (If you’re getting groceries delivered, it’s more efficient to have one driver deliver your eggs and milk and vegetables all together than to have separate drivers going round delivering each one separately.)

GiveWell is very interested in these "layered interventions," and we are excited to support them wherever they cross our cost-effectiveness threshold. But we've discovered it’s harder than you might think to find ways to combine programs effectively.

Read More

The post Increasing impact by combining programs appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Jeremy Rehwaldt

Researcher Spotlight: Erin Crossett, GiveWell Program Officer

1 month ago

Our research team spends over 50,000 hours a year looking for cost-effective organizations and interventions to save and improve lives, with the goal of producing the world's top research on where to give. This interview with Program Officer Erin Crossett provides a glimpse into the world of GiveWell research.

Q: What made you interested in joining the GiveWell research team?

A: I really cared about working at a place where evidence of real impact was the key determinant of what we investigated and what we funded. I think a lot of organizations nominally care about impact, and the term “impact” gets thrown around a lot. But I think it really means something at GiveWell—it’s a core part of the GiveWell research DNA, and that’s very motivating.

Read More

The post Researcher Spotlight: Erin Crossett, GiveWell Program Officer appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Chandler Brotak

The hardest part about fundraising for GiveWell

1 month 1 week ago

May marked my three-year anniversary as a Philanthropy Advisor at GiveWell. It’s a job I adore (as I’ve written about here and here), and I’ve recently been tasked with the exciting process of interviewing candidates for our growing team.

One of the best questions I’ve been asked in this process is: What’s the hardest part about fundraising for GiveWell? The short answer: GiveWell is funding constrained, but we can't point at a specific opportunity and say, "If you donate now, here's the impact your donation will actually cause.”

Instead, our answer is fairly abstract, and pretty far from traditional fundraising language. We tell donors that we would spend additional money on opportunities at or above our cost-effectiveness bar (which translates to saving a life for about $5,000), but we’re unable to explain in advance precisely what we will allocate additional funds to. That answer isn’t as compelling as telling someone a vivid story about how their money alone would allow us to fund a great program we’ll otherwise have to decline, but it has the advantage of being completely accurate and true.

Read More

The post The hardest part about fundraising for GiveWell appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Maggie Lloydhauser

June 2024 open thread

1 month 1 week 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.

Read More

The post June 2024 open thread appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

GiveWell Staff

May 2024 updates

1 month 1 week ago

Every month we send an email newsletter to our supporters sharing recent updates from our work. We publish selected portions of the newsletter on our blog to make this news more accessible to people who visit our website. For key updates from the latest installment, please see below!

If you’d like to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox each month, you can subscribe here.

Read More

The post May 2024 updates appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Chandler Brotak

Mobile vaccination with New Incentives

1 month 2 weeks ago

In this blog post, we’re crossposting the work of one of our grantee organizations and top charities: New Incentives, which gives cash incentives for parents and caregivers in Northern Nigeria to take advantage of standard childhood vaccines that are freely available from government clinics. Recently, New Incentives wrote about the experiences of their staff member Idris and a mobile vaccination team on one particular Saturday morning in Kano State, Nigeria.

We wanted to share the stories of Idris, Alawiyya, and this particular mobile vaccination team on this particular Saturday morning, even while flagging that it’s just one of the 5,900 clinics and 11,130 mobile vaccination sessions that New Incentives staff participated in during January 2024. The plural of “story” is not data, but the stories do combine into a whole lot of impact for babies and their families.

Read More

The post Mobile vaccination with New Incentives appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

GiveWell Staff

GiveWell’s Research Council

1 month 3 weeks ago

As GiveWell grows and matures as an organization, we're excited to continue learning from others in our field. We believe that actively seeking feedback on our work enables us to do more good. In May 2023, we launched a Research Council, a small group of experts we can consult on research questions and grant investigations.

We aimed to create a Council whose collective experience includes:

  • Deep familiarity with specific areas GiveWell researches
  • Substantial time working and/or living in the geographic areas where we fund work (low- and middle-income countries, primarily in Africa and South Asia)
  • Conducting research, especially randomized controlled trials (RCTs), on global health and development programs
  • Taking effective programs from pilot to scale
  • Working in partnership with major funding institutions and with country governments, especially the governments of countries where we support programs

So far, we've held three meetings with this full group to share further details of our research process and how we set our cost-effectiveness threshold. During these meetings, Council members provided helpful feedback about ways we might improve our research.

Read More

The post GiveWell’s Research Council appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Hannah Bell

Making our work more readable

2 months ago

Perhaps you noticed that our most recent blog post included a bit of whimsy and even a joke footnote. Our blog is changing slightly, and you can expect more of that!

When GiveWell first started blogging, the blog was a place to share broad thoughts on philanthropy and generate conversation. While we’re not planning to revert to the tone of our early blog posts (which we consider a mistake), we are trying to publish more on our blog and to make what we publish more readable. Our blog posts will be as accurate as ever, but we’re hoping that a more conversational tone will be easier to engage with.

This blog refresh stems from an organization-wide emphasis on legibility. This focus is related to our deeply held value of transparency. For people outside of GiveWell to truly evaluate the conclusions that drive our recommendations, our work needs to be not only public but also understandable.

Read More

The post Making our work more readable appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Maggie Lloydhauser

Consider the eggplant

2 months 1 week ago

Norman Borlaug, the “father of the green revolution,” transformed agriculture (and won a Nobel Peace Prize) for developing new wheat varietals that resisted diseases and greatly increased yields.

You might well wonder: if it’s possible for wheat, is it possible for other crops? Consider the eggplant: a popular purple fruit/vegetable that can be made into everything from hongshao qiezi to baba ghanoush. It’s beloved by many people worldwide, and also by a cute but destructive moth larva.

The “eggplant fruit and shoot borer,” as the name suggests, bores into the shoots and fruit of eggplants, damaging the crops. A new varietal, Bt eggplants, was developed by the Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (Mahyco), and later supported by partnerships with USAID, Cornell University, and local partners. This varietal is genetically modified to create proteins which are toxic to these little menaces, but safe for humans and the environment.

So: could encouraging the adoption of Bt eggplants create a purple revolution that meets GiveWell’s bar for outstanding programs?

Read More

The post Consider the eggplant appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Chandler Brotak

A major initiative to scale up water chlorination in India

2 months 2 weeks ago

We recommended a $38.8 million grant to Evidence Action to support the Indian government in providing clean water by setting up in-line chlorination in two states, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

This isn't a grant designed to directly deliver a service or commodity; instead, Evidence Action will use the funding to work in close partnership with state and local governments, providing technical assistance to support the delivery of the program. Providing all rural households with access to clean, piped water is a major priority for the Indian government. In-line chlorination, which uses a device to automatically disinfect water by adding chlorine as the water passes through a pipe, is a way to make drinking water safe.

We believe this grant may not only increase access to chlorinated water in the states it directly supports, but also inspire other states to adopt similar practices. A core part of the program's theory of change is that governments in locations outside the grant area may take up a program they might not otherwise adopt. This is the first very large grant we've made where that's been an important consideration. We think the upside is unusually high—if successful, this grant could eventually lead to tens or even hundreds of millions of additional people receiving safe water—but it's also riskier than most of our grants, as there are a number of ways the program could fail to have the desired impact. Our hope is that this grant will reduce mortality and improve health at a very large scale.

Read More

The post A major initiative to scale up water chlorination in India appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Isabel Arjmand

April 2024 updates

2 months 2 weeks ago

Every month we send an email newsletter to our supporters sharing recent updates from our work. We publish selected portions of the newsletter on our blog to make this news more accessible to people who visit our website. For key updates from the latest installment, please see below!

If you’d like to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox each month, you can subscribe here.

Read More

The post April 2024 updates appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Chandler Brotak

Malengo: Supporting students to pursue education internationally

2 months 4 weeks ago

GiveWell recently recommended a grant of up to $750,000 to Malengo, an educational migration program. Malengo supports students from low-income countries in moving to high-income countries for university. The goal is to enable them to earn a higher income over time, benefiting both the students and their families.

This post shares why we think Malengo's program could be cost-effective, how filling this specific funding gap might enable Malengo's program to become more financially sustainable, and what we hope to learn next.

Read More

The post Malengo: Supporting students to pursue education internationally appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Isabel Arjmand

March 2024 open thread

3 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.

Read More

The post March 2024 open thread appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Jeremy Rehwaldt

March 2024 updates

3 months 2 weeks ago

Every month we send an email newsletter to our supporters sharing recent updates from our work. We publish selected portions of the newsletter on our blog to make this news more accessible to people who visit our website. For key updates from the latest installment, please see below!

If you’d like to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox each month, you can subscribe here.

Read More

The post March 2024 updates appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Chandler Brotak

What we fund, #1: We fund many opportunities outside our top charities

3 months 4 weeks ago

GiveWell aims to find and fund programs that have the greatest impact on global well-being. We're open to funding whichever global health and development opportunities seem most cost-effective. So while our top charities list is still what we're best known for, it's only part of our impact; we also dedicate substantial funding and research effort to opportunities beyond top charities.

In 2022, 71% of the funds we directed supported our four current top charities, and 29% were directed to other programs. However, most of our research capacity goes toward programs other than our top charities. This is because (a) most programs we direct funding to aren't top charities (we have four top charities but directed funding to about 40 other grantees in 2022), and (b) it requires more effort to investigate a program we know less deeply.

In this post we’ll share:

  • The overall scope of our grantmaking
  • Why we dedicate funding and research capacity to programs other than our top charities
  • The types of opportunities we support

Read More

The post What we fund, #1: We fund many opportunities outside our top charities appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Isabel Arjmand
Checked
57 minutes 55 seconds ago
Exploring how to get real change for your dollar.