What Others Are Saying
Table of Contents
As seen in the media
This is my annual giving column, so I won’t beat around the bush. I recommend donating to GiveWell’s four top-rated charities. . . . I give to GiveWell’s charities every year, and while that’s not the whole of my giving, that’s the part I feel most confident about. Giving to organizations I’m so certain of is a good feeling, and I hope you get to feel it, too.
My wife and I have been giving annually to GiveWell since I first discovered it. What I like about donating to the group is having the confidence that our money is being used directly toward efforts to save lives.
Philanthropy has made huge strides in the last couple of decades, with far more emphasis on cost-effective interventions that are scalable to bring about change. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped lead the way, and Web sites like Givewell.org guide small-time donors.
The gold standard for giving.
How do you give? Is there a non-profit that you've been donating to for years? Or do you let the flood wash over you, acting when a heart string feels a tug? It turns out there's a better way: A small band of researchers, headed by refugees from the financial sector, scour the planet for organizations that have the maximum impact with the dollars they are given. This is the idea behind GiveWell, a charity-evaluating nonprofit started in 2006. Its mission is to identify organizations throughout the world that are doing good, and then subject them to careful scrutiny, including site visits. It posts the results, including extensive case files, on its website for free.Its motto: "Real change for your dollar." As we enter into the prime giving season, GiveWell provides a valuable service for the donor who has few preconceptions and just wants to make the world better.
Last year, GiveWell found itself in the position of having more funding available than extremely cost-effective opportunities to spend it on. So it made the (somewhat controversial) announcement that it would roll $110 million in funds into 2022, instead of distributing those funds to charities right away, in hopes of finding more high-impact opportunities later.
The gambit paid off: Whereas a year ago GiveWell had found $450 million worth of cost-effective opportunities, this year it’s more like $900 million — meaning the size of the pool has roughly doubled. Now, instead of having too much money and too few great causes to spend it on, GiveWell has too many great causes and too little funding to support them all. Specifically, it finds itself around $300 million short.
“It's of course possible to research charity options yourself, but you can save some time by outsourcing that labor to a careful, methodologically rigorous charity recommender like GiveWell. Charity Navigator has started following in GiveWell’s footsteps by evaluating charities based on their ability to do the most good at the lowest cost.
On average, Americans spend more time watching television in one day than they do researching charities in an entire year. Finding good charities takes time. It means using the few organizations, such as GiveWell, that do in-depth studies of charities' effectiveness. And it means remembering that the best organizations, charitable or otherwise, are built on more than a good story or a charismatic leader.
When I speak about why we ought to be doing more to help the world's poorest people — something I do often — the most frequent question I get is: how can we know that our donation will really help the poor? Until GiveWell came along, it was difficult to give a convincing answer to that question. Previous charity-rating organizations just looked at how much of a charity's income went to program expenses, rather than administration - and it doesn't take much thought to realize that that figure tells you nothing about how effective the charity's programs are. GiveWell has filled a huge gap, and at the same time has started a major trend towards greater transparency and demonstrated cost-effectiveness in the charitable world.
Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna
The detail in which GiveWell explains its reasoning and the thoroughness of its research into its top charities are unmatched, as far as we've seen. We've been impressed by the co-founders' dedication to their work, humility about what they know and what they don't, and ability to adapt the GiveWell model as they learn. While Good Ventures does not accept unsolicited requests for funding, we do consider all of GiveWell's recommended charities for substantial grants.
Having been an activist and donor in the social sector for a few years now, I have not run across a group of people doing more rigorous, demanding evaluations of non-profits than the GiveWell team. They bring a thoughtfulness and precision to each of the fields they study that is rare in the sector. I can't think of a better resource for a careful donor.
A donor can feel confident that an organization recommended by GiveWell meets the highest standards of performance.
GiveWell, by far the best charity evaluator working today, has a new top ranked charity, the Against Malaria Foundation. Why is VillageReach, their best ranked charity for several years, no longer at the top? First, GiveWell is ranking more charities and charities are now more willing to provide GiveWell the kind of detailed information on outcomes that GiveWell demands. Thus, more charities are vying for the top spot. Even more important is this: 'VillageReach was our top-rated organization for 2009, 2010 and much of 2011 and it has now received over $2 million due to GiveWell's recommendation. We do not believe that VillageReach has short-term funding needs. . . .' When was the last time that a charity or evaluator told you that due to successful fund-raising there are now more urgent needs elsewhere? Impressive. As I have for several years, I will be following GiveWell's advice and donating to the Against Malaria Foundation and several of GiveWell's other top charities.
As longtime Slow Boring readers know, we believe that GiveWell does tremendous work and a portion of the newsletter’s revenue goes to their top charities each month.
– Matt Yglesias, "A Conversation with GiveWell's Elie Hassenfeld," January 4, 2023
Giving What We Can
We all want our donations to make a difference. But choosing where to give our money isn't always an easy task. Not all charities are equal. Just like companies, some are much better at what they do. They save more lives, they work more productively, and serve causes that are often highly neglected by others. If we want to make the maximum impact with our donations, it's important to find these effective charities. . . . And that’s why GiveWell’s work is so important. For the last fifteen years, GiveWell has been helping people all around the world make smarter donations. Their approach is backed up by data and evidence. They’ve been responsible for directing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of funds to their supported charities.
– Luke Freeman, "#11 – Neil Buddy Shah: A Deep Dive into GiveWell's Work," October 6, 2022
- Evidence Action – Evidence Action Doubles Safe Water Reach, July 27, 2023
- MiracleFeet – MiracleFeet Awarded $5.8 Million from GiveWell to Expand Clubfoot Treatment, July 21, 2023
- Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE) – Y-RISE Awarded GiveWell Grant of $1.35M for Core Operations, May 15,2023
- New Incentives – A Day in the Life: Abubakar Aliyu, Field Officer, April 25, 2023
- Evidence Action – The Best Shot for Pregnant Women and Newborns, February 7, 2023
- r.i.c.e. – r.i.c.e.'s Neonatal Lifesaving Partnership Is Funded by GiveWell; A Description of What We Do, December 9, 2022
- Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) – GiveWell Funds CHAI-led New Program Incubator, November 10, 2022
- Vital Strategies – New Initiative Launches to Address Neglected Global Health Crisis of Alcohol Harms, November 1, 2022
- New Incentives – New Incentives Receives $35 Million in Funding to Scale Up Cash Incentives for Routine Childhood Vaccination Program in Nigeria, August 8, 2022
- PATH – PATH Welcomes US$5 Million Grant to Expand Malaria Vaccine Access in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, April 19, 2022
- Evidence Action – We’re Doubling the Size of Dispensers for Safe Water, Reaching Millions More People and Saving the Lives of Young Children, April 6, 2022
- IRD Global – Improving Immunizatiodn Coverage across Vulnerable Communities, January 24, 2022
- Results for Development (R4D) – R4D Receives Phase 2 Grant to Support Tanzania’s Pneumonia Treatment Program, January 15, 2020
- Fortify Health – Fortify Health Receives $1 Million GiveWell Incubation Grant, 2020
Other relevant articles
- Ezra Klein writes a New York Times opinion piece on what effective altruism gets right, December 4, 2022 (archived)
- Vox offers guidelines for giving effectively, November 29, 2022 (archived)
- Farhad Manjoo pens a New York Times opinion piece on how to know your donations are doing the most good, December 15, 2021 (archived)
- GiveWell and top charity Against Malaria Foundation are mentioned in an episode of NPR's Hidden Brain podcast on moral decision-making, June 8, 2020 (archived transcript).
- NPR’s Planet Money interviews GiveWell's James Snowden about our response to the coronavirus pandemic and how donors can optimize their giving, May 5, 2020 (archived).
- Vox includes GiveWell in its article on donating and volunteering to help during the coronavirus pandemic, April 14, 2020 (archived).
- Vox writes about the challenge of calculating “moral weights” and GiveWell’s project with IDinsight to get better data to inform these calculations, December 20, 2019 (archived).
- Vox writes about GiveWell in its list of charities that do the most good, December 17, 2019 (archived).
- Tim Harford of BBC News writes about the question of why individuals give to charity and discusses the role of GiveWell and effective altruism, December 12, 2019 (archived).
- NPR speaks with GiveWell’s Josh Rosenberg about our research process and our project with IDinsight to inform our "moral weights," December 3, 2019 (archived).
- Devex writes about GiveWell’s plans to expand the scope of our research beyond the current recommendations, May 24, 2019 (archived).
- New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof cites GiveWell’s cost-effectiveness and funding-gap estimates in his piece, “How I Would Spend Trump’s Wall Money," February 6, 2019 (archived).
- New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof features GiveWell in his annual holiday guide for presents with meaning, December 1, 2018.
- Vox features GiveWell’s research in its list of charities that do the most good, December 25, 2018 (archived).
- The Economist features GiveWell in an article about effective altruism, June 2, 2018.
- Mr. Money Mustache includes GiveWell in his article on tips for giving to charities, December 4, 2017 (archived).
- The New York Times describes GiveWell as a resource for “The Spreadsheet Method of Giving” (calculating altruistic return on investment) in a guide for planning personal giving, November 28, 2017.
- NPR features GiveWell in an article on "how to get the most bang for your charity buck" on Giving Tuesday, November 27, 2017 (archived).
- In a video from NowThis Politics, GiveWell Executive Director Elie Hassenfeld shares his advice for giving effectively, November 28, 2017.
- Fast Company features GiveWell's Incubation Grants program, March 16, 2017 (archived).
- NPR's Morning Edition features GiveWell on Giving Tuesday, November 29, 2016 (archived).
- Esquire features GiveWell in an article about how to give effectively, April 28, 2016 (archived).
- The Wall Street Journal cites GiveWell's research in an article about choosing where to donate, December 4, 2015 (archived).
- Vox features GiveWell's research in an article about which charities do the most good, December 1, 2015 (archived).
- Marketplace interviews GiveWell’s Catherine Hollander for a piece about making altruism more effective, December 1, 2015 (archived).
- The Atlantic discusses GiveWell's research in the context of a reporter’s search for the best charitable cause in the world, June 15, 2015 (archived).
- The Economist features GiveWell in an article about impact-driven philanthropy, May 23, 2015 (archived).
- Tim Harford features GiveWell's research as an alternative to a social media fundraising campaign on More or Less on BBC Radio 4, September 7, 2014 (archive of summary).
- The New York Times column "Your Money" features GiveWell in an article on the challenges of giving effectively, April 25, 2014 (archived).
- In a New York Times op-ed, Peter Singer cites GiveWell for its "serious evaluation of charities helping people in extreme poverty," August 11, 2013 (archived).
- Bay Area NPR station KQED features GiveWell's Alexander Berger on a segment about how to decide where to give your charitable dollars, June 19, 2013 (archived).
- The Washington Post's Wonkblog features GiveWell as a resource for donors in an article about earning to give, May 31, 2013 (archived).
- The Washington Post debunks myths about charitable giving, December 27, 2012 (archived)
- The New York Times column "Fixes" features GiveWell in an article on giving effectively, December 5, 2012 (archived).
- The New York Times features GiveWell in an article on measuring the impact of giving, September 28, 2012 (archived).
- New York Times columnist Nick Kristof recommends GiveWell's top charity and cites GiveWell's research, December 3, 2011 (archived).
- Bloomberg BusinessWeek features an overview of GiveWell’s origin story, November 23, 2011 (archived)
- The Boston Globe goes in depth on GiveWell and giving season, November 20, 2011 (archived)
- The New York Times cites GiveWell in an article about donating in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, March 16, 2011 (archived).
- USA Today points to GiveWell as a donor resource, November 30, 2010 (archived).
- Nicholas Kristof writes a New York Times opinion piece on strides within philanthropy toward analyzing cost-effectiveness, November 20, 2010 (archived)
- CNN interviews GiveWell co-founder Holden Karnofsky in segment on effective giving, January 25, 2010.
- CNN Radio interviews GiveWell co-founder Elie Hassenfeld about using overhead to evaluate charities, January 20, 2010.
- A Wall Street Journal article on resources for evaluating charities recommends GiveWell, November 8, 2009 (archived).
- Half the Sky, a book by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof points to GiveWell as a donor resource, September 8, 2009.
- NPR interviews GiveWell co-founder Holden Karnofsky on the importance of researching your donations, December 10, 2008.
- NPR interviews GiveWell's founders, December 24, 2007.
- The New York Times (front section) features GiveWell and its founders, December 20, 2007 (archived).
- Wall Street Journal article (Personal Journal section) highlights GiveWell among its resources for donors, December 20, 2007.
- CNBC interviews GiveWell's founders, December 20, 2007. (Video inactive when this page was last updated, but may be active again later).