Nothing But Nets – October 2012 version

We have published a more recent review of this organization. See our most recent report here.

GiveWell aims to find the best giving opportunities we can and recommend them to donors (why we recommend so few charities). We tend to put a lot of investigation into the organizations we find most promising, and de-prioritize others based on limited information. When we decide not to prioritize an organization, we try to create a brief writeup of our thoughts on that charity because we want to be as transparent as possible about our reasoning.

The following write-up should be viewed in this context: it explains why we determined that (for the time being), we won't be prioritizing the organization in question as a potential top charity. This write-up should not be taken as a "negative rating" of the charity. Rather, it is our attempt to be as clear as possible about the process by which we came to our top recommendations.

Published: October 2012


Nothing But Nets is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation to raise awareness and funding for distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets in Africa.1 It grants the funds it raises to other organizations that purchase and distribute the nets, such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF.2 Nothing But Nets is not directly involved in deciding where nets should be sent or in monitoring whether nets reach intended recipients and are used correctly by them. Because of this, Nothing But Nets was not able to provide us with details of how nets are allocated to particular locations and people or what follow up is done to monitor the quality of the distribution programs.3


  • 1

    "Nothing But Nets is a global, grassroots campaign to raise awareness and funding to fight malaria, a leading cause of death among children in Africa. Nothing But Nets provides everyone – students to CEOs, bishops to basketball players – the opportunity to join the fight against malaria by giving $10 to send a net and save a life. While the UN Foundation has been working with the UN to fight malaria for years, it was Rick Reilly’s column about malaria in Sports Illustrated challenging each of his readers to donate at least $10 to send anti-malaria bed nets, that led to the creation of the Nothing But Nets campaign in 2006...
    Nothing But Nets works with UN partners like UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency, and the World Health Organization to purchase nets, transport them to Africa, and distribute them to families. Net distributions are typically part of a wider public health effort within a country coordinated by the Ministry of Health, the UN and other local and international organizations." Nothing But Nets, "About the Campaign."

  • 2

    "How does my $10 donation get to Africa?
    Nothing But Nets works with the Measles Initiative to purchase the nets, transport them to Africa, and distribute them to families. The Measles Initiative is a long-term effort to control measles deaths that has successfully delivered more than 400 million vaccinations and other health services in sub-Saharan Africa. The Measles Initiative partners -- the American Red Cross, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the United Nations Foundation -- have expertise in accessing remote, hard-to-reach areas throughout Africa.

    How does Nothing But Nets choose which countries receive bed nets?
    Nothing But Nets works with United Nations partners to purchase long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets, distribute them, and educate families on their use. The UN agencies, including the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the World Health Organization (WHO) world closely with local ministries of health to determine where nets are needed. These decisions take much consideration and are based on the prevalence of the disease, the number of years since distribution, and the interest and preparedness of each country. Such coordination is necessary to conduct effective and efficient campaigns as well as to ensure sustainability." Nothing But Nets, "Frequently Asked Questions."

    "GiveWell: It is my understanding that Nothing But Nets' role is to raise funds that are granted to other organizations to buy and distribute nets in conjunction with Measles vaccination campaigns. Is that a correct and complete summary?
    Nothing But Nets: That's mostly accurate. We generally send funds to UN agencies: WHO, UNHCR, and UNICEF. We don't generally work in conjunction anymore with the Measles Initiative." Amy Jensen, phone conversation with GiveWell, August 22, 2011.

  • 3

    "GiveWell: What processes do you use to make sure that nets get to where they are supposed to and that they are used properly?
    Nothing But Nets: Part of the funding that we cover is education on the ground about how to use nets. The $10 per net figure covers manufacture ($5), distribution ($3), and education ($2). We don't have strict monitoring and evolution. That's handled by the agencies. We've seen anecdotally that nets continue to be used...
    GiveWell: You mention on your website that you conduct follow up surveys. Can we see the follow up surveys? What have you learned from these?
    Nothing But Nets: We're not the malaria experts. We rely on the agencies to find needs and distribute nets." Amy Jensen, phone conversation with GiveWell, August 22, 2011.