Vitamin Angels - November 2009 Version

We have published a more recent review of this organization. See our most recent report on Vitamin Angels.

About this page

GiveWell aims to find the best giving opportunities we can and recommend them to donors. 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 we wouldn'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.

A note on this page's publication date

The last time we examined Vitamin Angels was in 2009. In our latest open-ended review of charities, we determined that it was unlikely to meet our criteria based on our past examination of it, so we did not revisit it.

We invite all charities that feel they meet our criteria to apply for consideration.

The content we created in 2009 appears below. This content is likely to be no longer fully accurate, both with respect to what it says about [Vitamin Angels and with respect to what it implies about our own views and positions. With that said, we do feel that the takeaways from this examination are sufficient not to prioritize re-opening our investigation of this organization at this time.

Published: November 2009

We investigated Vitamin Angels because they work to increase access to vitamin A and multivitamins, an approach we find promising. We reviewed Vitamin Angels' website and spoke to Cami Allen, Program Manager of Vitamin Angels, and Ada Laurén, Manager of Technical Services, on the phone.

What they do

Vitamin Angels receives donations of vitamins and a deworming drug from private sources and makes in-kind grants to organizations working on the ground in developing countries.1


We asked Vitamin Angels the following questions:

  • Is there evidence that vitamins are reaching intended beneficiaries?
  • Are grant recipients held responsible for failure to distribute vitamins as promised?
  • What percentage of the vitamins are given to very young children? (The evidence we have reviewed indicates that vitamin A supplementation is an effective program for children under the age of 5 but not necessarily for individuals over the age of 5.2 )
  • Are vitamins distributed at the recommended frequencies?
  • What would Vitamin Angels do with additional donations?

Vitamin Angels shared with us some of the reports they have received from grant recipients,3 but told us that they do not yet have a way to verify that the reports are accurate.4 Additionally, we do not know if Vitamin Angels holds recipient organizations accountable for distributing supplements and medications on time and to the intended beneficiaries. We therefore cannot confidently recommend that donors support Vitamin Angels.

Vitamin Angels told us that they are currently shifting their focus to target more children under 5. Additionally, they plan to expand their monitoring system, including hiring independent local observers, in the next year. We look forward to reevaluating Vitamin Angels once they have monitoring data available.5


  • Allen, Cami. Program Manager. Email to GiveWell, September 15, 2009.
  • Allen, Cami, Program Manager, and Ada Laurén, Manager of Technical Services. Phone conversation with GiveWell, September 29, 2009.
  • BRA Dominicana. Vitamin Angel Alliance informe trimestral (April 2008-March 2009). Vitamin Angels asked that we keep this document confidential.
  • Cristo Salva. Vitamin Angel Alliance multivitamin program for Honduras (2009). Vitamin Angels asked that we keep this document confidential.
  • Fonkoze. Report on the distribution of little angels multivitamins to children of Fonkoze members in Haiti. Vitamin Angels asked that we keep this document confidential.
  • GiveWell. Problems and solutions overview.
  • Haitian Development Fund. Vitamin Angels reporting form (June 2009). Vitamin Angels asked that we keep this document confidential.
  • Jukes, Matthew C. H., Lesley J. Drake, and Donald A. P. Bundy. 2008. School health, nutrition and education for all: Leveling the playing field. Oxfordshire: CABI Publishing.
  • Save the Children. Vitamin A deficiency among school-age children: Impact on morbidity and mortality and implication for programs. Vitamin Angels asked that we keep this document confidential.
  • Vitamin Angels. Annual actual distribution. Vitamin Angels asked that we keep this document confidential.
  • Vitamin Angels. Commodity commitments: Projections and actuals (2009 Q3).
  • Vitamin Angels. Financial statements (2005-2007) (PDF).
  • Vitamin Angels. Grant recipient reports. Vitamin Angels has not given us permission to publish the reports online.
  • Vitamin Angels. Resource requirements (October 2009). Vitamin Angels asked that we keep this document confidential.
  • Vitamin Angels. Staring your micronutrient project. (accessed July 12, 2010). Archived by WebCite® at
  • 1

    In 2007, the most recent year for which we have financial statements, Vitamin Angels received $44.6 million in in-kind contributions and $0.9 million in cash donations. Vitamin Angels notes that its model "involves obtaining in-kind donations of essential vitamins, anti-parasitics, and supplements. Cash donation are used to pay for logistics, warehousing, transportation, program oversight, administration, fundraising, salaries, product solicitation, and all other expenses." Vitamin Angels distributed $40.4 million in nutrition products in that year. Vitamin Angels, "Financial Statements (2005-2007)," Pg 3-4 and 10.

    "Vitamin Angels grants selected micronutrient commodities to qualified non-profit organizations able to connect essential micronutrients, especially vitamin A, with beneficiaries." Vitamin Angels, "Staring Your Micronutrient Project."

  • 2

    GiveWell, “Problems and Solutions Overview.” See Malnutrition section.

  • 3

    Vitamin Angels, “Grant Recipient Reports.”

  • 4

    Cami Allen and Ada Laurén. Phone conversation with GiveWell, September 29, 2009.

  • 5

    Cami Allen and Ada Laurén. Phone conversation with GiveWell, September 29, 2009.