Sources for Top Charities page
Published: November 2020; Updated August 2023
Table of Contents
Estimating the impact of your donations
For information about our general approach to estimating the impact of the charities and funding opportunities we recommend, see this page.
GiveWell has 37 full-time research staff. The names and roles of research staff can be found here.
Each research staff member contributes about 1,840 hours per year (40 hours per week multiplied by 46 weeks, accounting for holidays and time off). We assume that one-quarter of their time is spent on non-research work, such as staff meetings. We thus roughly estimate that they collectively conduct more than 50,000 hours of research per year (37 staff multiplied by 1,840 hours per year multiplied by 75% of time on research).
Impact of malaria
Estimates of annual malaria deaths vary from about 627,000 to 640,000.1 About 95% of the malaria deaths reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) for 2020 were in sub-Saharan Africa, and children under five years old accounted for about three-quarters of malaria deaths globally.2
Presuming the proportion of children dying from malaria is approximately constant across countries, then more than 70% of total malaria deaths were children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa (95% of total malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa multiplied by 77% of total malaria deaths occurring in children under five results in 73%).
Impact of vitamin A deficiency
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's Global Burden of Disease project estimates that vitamin A deficiency increases the risk of diarrhea, measles, and lower respiratory tract infections.3 In 2017, an estimated 233,000 global deaths were linked to this increased risk.4
Impact of vaccine-preventable diseases
The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project estimates more than 640,000 global deaths from malaria in 2019. “Measure: Deaths, 2019 number: 643,380.9.” Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease, GBD Compare, Global malaria deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates approximately 627,000 malaria deaths in 2020. “Globally, malaria deaths reduced steadily over the period 2000–2019, from 896 000 in 2000 to 562 000 in 2015 and to 558 000 in 2019. In 2020, malaria deaths increased by 12% compared with 2019, to an estimated 627 000; an estimated 47 000 (68%) of the additional 69 000 deaths were due to service disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic..” WHO, World Malaria Report 2021, Pg xvi.
WHO, World Malaria Report 2021, Pg 25, Figure 3.2d. For the list of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, see the list at the bottom of this page: World Bank, "Sub-Saharan Africa". “The percentage of total malaria deaths among children aged under 5 years continued to decline over the past 20 years, from 87% in 2000 to 76% in 2019, but increased slightly to 77% in 2020.” WHO, World Malaria Report 2021, Pg 25.
"In its Global Burden of Disease (GBD), IHME models VAD [vitamin A deficiency] as both a direct cause of years lived with disability (YLDs) and as a risk factor for three other diseases (diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs), and measles)." GiveWell's non-verbatim summary of a conversation with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, April 5, 2019
The GBD project attributes 233,000 deaths to "Vitamin A deficiency: all causes" in 2017. GBD 2017 Risk Factor Collaborators, 2018, p. 1948.
"In 2019, global coverage rates for the third dose of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP3) reached 85 per cent." This vaccine is "often used as an indicator of how well countries are providing routine immunization services." UNICEF, "Immunization," 2020. We say “at least” because coverage tends to be lower for other vaccines. For global vaccination rates, see Our World in Data, Global vaccination coverage, World, 2019.
In 2019, 57% of infants in Nigeria received the third dose of the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine. Our World in Data, Global vaccination coverage, Nigeria, 2019