We offer multiple giving funds for donors with different preferences, and strongly believe each of these options is a very impactful way to give. By donating to one of GiveWell’s giving funds (outlined below), you take advantage of our ongoing research and analysis, ensuring that your gift is allocated to the highest-impact giving opportunities that we’ve identified.
If you want to support GiveWell and/or our grantees but aren't sure which option is right for you, this guide can help you decide how to direct your giving.
Table of Contents
Top Charities Fund
The Top Charities Fund makes grants to the highest-priority funding needs among our top charities—allocating your gift to where we believe it will do the most good. Our top charities are highly impactful, and we have a high degree of confidence in their work. (Note: We updated the name of this fund in September 2022.)
Recommended for: Donors who want to give to high-impact work that GiveWell has a high degree of confidence in.
What it is: A gift to GiveWell that is restricted to grants to our top charities. GiveWell takes no fees from these donations, and they will not be used for GiveWell's operations or non–top charity programs.
What it will go toward: Donations are allocated quarterly toward the highest-priority funding gaps we've identified among our top charities. These are programs that we've estimated to be very cost-effective, and in which we have a high degree of certainty, in accordance with our criteria.
An example of grants in this category:
- $79.9 million for Malaria Consortium's seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Togo (January 2022). This program was extremely cost-effective in the past: we estimate that the cost per life saved was $4,500, on average, for seasonal malaria chemoprevention grants we recommended in 2020. This grant allows Malaria Consortium to maintain its current scale in several regions through 2023 or 2024 (depending on region).
All Grants Fund
The All Grants Fund supports any grant that meets our cost-effectiveness bar. This may include:
- grants to GiveWell top charities
- grants that incubate, scale, or allow us to get more certainty about a potential future top charity
- grants made purely on the basis of expected value
- grants to support research
Recommended for: Donors who want their gifts to support grants only, and are happy to support high-expected-value opportunities that we're less sure about than our top charities.
What it is: A gift to GiveWell that is restricted to grantmaking. GiveWell takes no fees from these donations, and they will not be used for GiveWell's operations.
What it might go toward: Donations are allocated on a rolling basis to top charity grants or non–top charity grants that meet our cost-effectiveness bar for funding. As of July 2022, we expect to direct about three-quarters of our grants to top charity programs and one-quarter to other programs, so there's a high likelihood that your donation to the All Grants Fund will support a top charity grant.
In recent years, we've recommended a wide range of grants outside of our top charities, including:
- $5 million to PATH to support ministries of health in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi in the implementation of the RTS,S malaria vaccine (January 2022).This grant supports a high-impact opportunity with an established organization, although we don’t expect the program to scale. We estimated this opportunity to be similarly cost-effective to some of our top charities.
- $203,796 to Tufts University for the expansion of the Kenya Study of Water Treatment and Child Survival (September 2020). This grant is primarily funding evidence gathering. We believe it could potentially lead to high impact in the future by developing the evidence base for a promising program.
Although some programs like these don't meet our criteria for top charities, we still want to support them if they are cost-effective and impactful, consistent with our mission to maximize global well-being.
The unrestricted fund supports spending on any GiveWell priority, including our own operating expenses. This fund is the maximally flexible giving option.
Recommended for: Donors who are enthusiastic about GiveWell's approach and want to support the activities—such as our research, recruitment, and fundraising—that allow us to keep finding and funding excellent grant opportunities.
What it is: A gift to GiveWell that we can deploy in any way we see fit. The donor does not designate a specific use for these funds.
What it might go toward: GiveWell's operations (including staff salaries, facilities, etc.), grants to top charities, or grants to non–top charity programs. GiveWell's operational budget is funded entirely by unrestricted donations, and most unrestricted gifts will go to support our operations, although they may also be used for grantmaking (more here).
Donating to an individual top charity
Donors may also choose to support a specific charity, rather than one of our giving funds.
Recommended for: Donors who are particularly excited about one top charity and want to ensure that their full donation supports it.
What it is: A gift to GiveWell that we then regrant to the individual top charity specified by the donor. GiveWell takes no fees from these donations, so the full donation amount (less payment processing fees) will go to that program.
What it will go toward: The top charity of the donor's choice, subject to our review and approval process.
We collect donations on behalf of our top charities, rather than encouraging donors to give to these programs directly, because:
- It allows us to track the impact of our work to direct donations to these programs.
- It gives us a chance to ask if you'd like updates on GiveWell's research.
- When we collect donations on a program's behalf, we can grant it out as either unrestricted or restricted to a particular use. Historically, some top charities have not given individual donors the option to restrict their donation to a single program, and often our top charity recommendation applies to only one program from an implementing organization. Giving through GiveWell ensures that your donation goes toward only the specific program that we have evaluated and currently recommend.
We recognize that some donors prefer to give directly to these programs instead of donating through GiveWell. We've provided a list of links through which to do so here. To help us track the impact of gifts made due to our research, we ask that you fill out our donation report form here when you donate directly to one of our top charities.
When you give to a specific fund, your donation is used as part of the total pool of funding that GiveWell directs. This means that, while your donation will support the fund of your choice, its true impact may be felt elsewhere. This is because your donation will affect how we decide to allocate money from other funds and sources.
For example, when you donate to the Top Charities Fund, you increase the pool of funding we have available to support top charities. This might mean that we end up allocating more of our flexible funding (such as the All Grants Fund), which we would have otherwise directed to top charities, to non-top charity funding opportunities instead.
More information on fungibility and how it affects impact is here.