Information About Donating

This page includes information about options for donating to our recommended charities, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about donations.

Table of Contents



Last Updated: November 2022; Published: September 2015

Donate to GiveWell in Support of Our Recommended Charities

We recommend that donors use our online donation form because this method requires the least administrative work for us. More details on donation methods can be found below. Please note that if you do not indicate how you would like your donation to be designated when you give to GiveWell (e.g., to our recommended charities), your donation will be treated as unrestricted funding, which we may choose to either use for operating expenses or grant to recommended charities.

  • Online credit card donations: Use this form. Transactions are processed by a third party (www.stripe.com). As with all credit card transactions, GiveWell is charged a percentage fee on every transaction.

    For credit card donations, GiveWell is charged 2.60% (3.60% for AMEX) + $0.40 on each transaction. The fee is taken out by the credit card processor: if you donate $100, we receive $97.00 (or $96.00 if using AMEX).

  • Online through PayPal: Use our online payment form and choose Paypal as the payment method at checkout. More information about donating via PayPal can be found here. PayPal charges 2.2% + $0.30 on each transaction: if you donate $100, we receive $97.50. There is no additional administrative work for us to process PayPal donations.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) / Automated Clearing House (ACH): For donors giving more than $50, we recommend donating via EFT. Donors can make secure one-time or recurring payments via our main donation form. Choose ACH as the payment method and provide the appropriate banking information when prompted.

    GiveWell is charged 0.8% + $1.00 account validation fee on each initial ACH transaction, but the overall fees on an ACH donation are capped at $5.60. (For recurring monthly or quarterly donations, GiveWell is charged 0.8% + $1.00 on the initial transaction, and 0.8%+ $0.40 per transaction on each subsequent transaction up to $5.60.) There is no additional administrative work for GiveWell to process ACH transactions.

    Because the costs to GiveWell are capped, this is the most cost effective way to make large donations. If you donate $100, Givewell will receive $98.20. If you donate $1000, GiveWell will receive $994.40.

  • Donate by check: Due to the administrative work associated with processing checks, we ask that donors use checks only for donations of $1,000 or more. Checks have no processing fees, but require more administrative work for us than credit card, PayPal, or EFT/ACH donations. We therefore recommend that donors use our online donation form for gifts smaller than $1,000.

    Reporting your check donation in advance online helps us cut down on administrative costs. Please report your donation using this form and then follow the instructions for mailing your check. If you would prefer to print and mail our check donation form, you can use this donation form (Microsoft Word version here).

  • Donate by bank transfer. Due to the administrative cost associated with processing bank transfers, we ask that donors use bank transfers only for donations of $1,000 or more. If you are interested in making a donation to GiveWell via bank transfer, please follow the instructions here. Donations made by bank transfer may have fees for the donor. It is our impression that some banks charge a fee for transfers and some do not. If you're interested in donating by bank transfer, we suggest you check with your bank about the fees involved. GiveWell does not pay fees on bank transfers.
  • Donate stocks. Due to the administrative cost associated with processing donations of stock, we ask that donors donate stock only if the value of the stock at the time of transfer is estimated at approximately $1,000 or more. Donations of stock are processed by E*Trade. E*Trade charges a $4.95 commission on each sale. If you are interested in making a donation to GiveWell via stocks or securities, please follow the instructions here. Alternatively, donors giving $5,000 or more can give to GiveWell's Vanguard donor-advised fund, which may be able to accept certain types of securities that E*Trade cannot, including Vanguard mutual funds.
  • Donate via a Qualified Charitable Distribution: We are happy to accept donations via Qualified Charitable Distributions from individuals’ accounts. For more information, see this page.
  • Cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. Due to the administrative cost associated with processing donations of cryptocurrencies, we ask that donors donate cryptocurrency only if the value of the currency at the time of transfer is estimated at approximately $1,000 or more. Donations of cryptocurrency are processed by Coinbase. Coinbase charges fees; please review the details about Coinbase's fees and surcharge here. If you are interested in making a donation of cryptocurrency to GiveWell, please follow the instructions here. We are able to accept donations of all cryptocurrencies that are tradable on Coinbase, a list which currently includes Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, and 0x. If you would like to donate a cryptocurrency not listed, please email us at donations@givewell.org.

The same methods and recommendations apply for donations made to GiveWell in support of our own operations. You can find information on 2022 end-of-year tax deadlines here.

It is important to us to track donations made due to our research. If you choose to give directly to one or more of our recommended charities (rather than through our site), please let us know through our donation report form and, if the charity's donation form provides a place to do so, please tell the charity that your gift was a result of our research. Follow the links below to donate directly:

You can find information on 2022 end-of-year tax deadlines here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Donations

(1) It allows us to track our own impact on donations, (2) it gives us a chance to ask you if you'd like to receive updates on GiveWell's research, and (3) when we grant the funds to the charity, we can designate them as we believe is best.

Please note that if you submit a donation to GiveWell with no designation (for example, mailing a check but not filling out the check donation form), we will treat it as unrestricted funding, which we may choose to either use for operating expenses or grant to recommended charities.

No, GiveWell collects no fees from donations to support its recommended charities. Once we have reviewed and approved your request to grant a donation to our recommended charities, 100% of your donation (after credit card fees) will be used to support the charity or charities of your choice (more details on the grant approval process here).

How is GiveWell supported?

GiveWell is supported by donors who explicitly choose to direct funding to our operations. Some donors choose to add 10% of their donation amount to support GiveWell's operations, and others choose to give their full donation amount as unrestricted funding to support our operations.

We generally use unrestricted funding for operating expenses (which includes staff salaries, travel expenses, website maintenance, and other routine operational costs). However, we have an "excess assets" policy, which provides that once we surpass a certain level of unrestricted assets, we earmark the excess for granting rather than continue to hold it ourselves. You can read more about our excess assets policy here.

We cap at 20 percent the proportion of our operating budget that any one individual or organization can contribute. This helps us avoid overly relying on a single source of support.

Will my donation be tax-deductible?

Information about how to make tax-deductible donations in various countries can be found here.

When does GiveWell grant funds it has collected to charities?

We typically grant from our Top Charities Fund (we updated the name of this fund in September 2022; more information here) to one or more of our recommended charities each quarter. We currently aim to make grants to charities within about two months after the end of each calendar quarter (for example, by the beginning of June for donations received in January through March). We may alter this schedule in the future (e.g., if a charity tells us that having the funds sooner will impact its operations or if we face capacity limitations). We make grants to fill the highest-priority funding needs at the time of our decision.

We also make grants on a rolling basis from our All Grants Fund.

If I request that you allocate funds from my donation for your recommended charities, will all of my donation be granted to those charities?

Donors to GiveWell can request that we use their donations for the support of a particular recommended charity (or charities), for the Top Charities Fund (we updated the name of this fund in September 2022; more information here), or for our All Grants Fund. Donors communicate allocation preferences to us in several different ways, depending on the donation method they choose; for example, by specifying how they want their donation to be used on our credit card donation form or check donation form, or by emailing us.

Our grantmaking process includes review and approval of grants to recommended charities by our Board of Directors. We generally approve grants in accordance with donors’ allocation preferences by granting all funds (less applicable financial transaction fees) to the charities that donors have told us they want to support, and have historically made grants in accordance with donors' allocation preferences in all cases. However, we retain the right to exercise final discretion over how funds from all donations are allocated.

GiveWell retains final discretion over how funds from donations are allocated to ensure that donations from US donors are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law, including when GiveWell grants funds to international charities formed outside the US. Generally speaking, US donors cannot take a charitable contribution deduction for a donation to international charities that are not formed in the US. Some of GiveWell’s recommended charities (and charities we might recommend in the future) are formed outside the US and do not have tax-exempt US-based organizations. GiveWell has reviewed each of these organizations and confirmed that they advance charitable purposes and otherwise meet applicable US legal requirements, so we, as a US 501(c)(3) organization, are able to grant funds to them. However, in order for a US donor to take a charitable contribution deduction for a donation that the donor recommends we grant to such an international charity, GiveWell has to exercise legal discretion and control over the donated funds, which means that we have the right to allocate the funds to a different charitable purpose than to a grant to that international charity.

How are donations to the Top Charities Fund allocated?

GiveWell will apply its judgment to allocate these donations among recommended charities. We take into account charities' funding needs and donations they have received from other sources when deciding where to distribute funding from the Top Charities Fund. (We updated the name of this fund in September 2022; more information here.) We then make these grants to the highest-value funding opportunities we see among our recommended charities. This page lists distributions we have made from the Top Charities Fund since 2014.

How are donations to the All Grants Fund allocated?

GiveWell will apply its judgment to allocate these donations. This discretionary grantmaking is intended to go to the highest-impact giving opportunities we identify, some of which may not be represented by organizations on our top charities list. This page describes the goals of our discretionary grantmaking, and lists all grants that we have made or recommended since 2014.

How do I modify or cancel a recurring donation? How do I update the credit card number for a recurring donation?

Please send us an email at donations@givewell.org if you would like to modify or cancel your monthly donation to GiveWell.

We can only assist with donations made for the support of recommended charities through GiveWell; in order to change or cancel a donation made directly to a GiveWell-recommended charity, you will need to reach out to the charity directly.

I want to give stocks or other securities, or I want to donate by bank transfer.

If you are interested in making a donation to GiveWell via stocks or securities, please follow the instructions here.

If you are interested in making a donation to GiveWell via bank transfer, please follow the instructions here.

Can I donate to a donor-advised fund?

GiveWell has a donor advised fund (DAF) through Vanguard Charitable for this purpose. More information and instructions for donating are available here.

I want to donate in honor of someone.

If you are giving by credit card, there is an option on our online donation forms to dedicate your donation to someone. If you check this box and and tell us the person's email address, we'll send them an email letting them know about your gift. Alternatively, you can download and use our acknowledgment letter templates.

I tried entering my credit card number and got an error. What do I do?

We’re sorry about the trouble. We know that some donors occasionally experience problems with our donation pages. One thing that has worked for some donors in the past is using a different browser.

If that fails, we can also accept credit card donations via PayPal at http://www.givewell.org/donate/paypal, and we can accept donations by check made out to GiveWell and sent to 1714 Franklin Street #100335, Oakland, CA 94612. Other donation options are listed above.

We appreciate you letting us know if you continue to have website issues so that we can troubleshoot. Please email donations@givewell.org with a description of the problem.

How do I include GiveWell as a beneficiary of my will or trust?

Please visit ​​​​​​this page for more information.

What happens if I don't indicate how I'd like my donation to be used?

We sometimes receive donations without guidance on how the donor wants them to be used, such as a check made out to "GiveWell" with no accompanying check donation form, as well as donations made through certain online platforms or donor-advised funds. We will treat these donations as unrestricted funding, which we may choose to either use for operating expenses or grant to recommended charities. This designation will be communicated via the receipt you receive from GiveWell, and we're happy to change it if you let us know.

How does GiveWell structure matching campaigns?

We do our best to ensure that the matching funds offered are additive and wouldn't have otherwise been given to GiveWell and/or our recommended organizations. We refer to this as a "true" match. We don't believe in restructuring gifts that would have been made anyway as "matches."

We solicit matching funds from donors who have expressed interest in increasing our reach. We review their giving history and likelihood of future giving to see if matching funds appear additive to what they would have otherwise given. If they do, we accept their gift and add it to a pool of funding we may use for future matching campaigns.

When we believe the use of matching funds would be helpful for us—for example, running a matching campaign to get better data on the effectiveness of a marketing effort—we draw from this pool of available matching funds. We generally limit the time frame of each campaign we run. Any funds that are not matched during the campaign will remain in the matching pool for future use.

This structure gives us the flexibility to run matching campaigns as opportunities arise. We may structure matches differently in the future. If you have any questions about how a matching campaign we're running has been structured, please don't hesitate to be in touch.

Other questions?

Please don't hesitate to email us at donations@givewell.org.


Source URL: https://www.givewell.org/donate/more-information