Published: May 2011
Table of Contents
How do charities help?
United States charities focused on the cause of equality of opportunity aim to improve the lives of individuals born into disadvantaged socio-economic situations. They work on areas including early childhood care, education, extra curricular programs, substance abuse prevention, college access, and job training.
What are the challenges of finding a great charity?
Many programs focused on helping people in the United States have not been evaluated,1 and when they have been, many have found little or no evidence of a significant impact.2 Furthermore, often programs have been evaluated for only short-term impacts (e.g., increased earnings over the course of a year following the program), and their long-term impact has not been assessed.
Where should you give?
When we focused on U.S. charities in the past, we recommended the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). KIPP is a charter school network aiming to improve academic achievement for low-income students. KIPP stands out from the rest of the charter school organizations we considered, and we believe it improves educational outcomes for the students it serves.
We have also recommended Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). NFP provides nurse home visitors to young, low-income, first-time mothers. Based on multiple randomized controlled trials with more than 10 years of follow up, we believe that NFP improves the lives of the children and mothers it serves. We believe NFP is outstanding but that it has limited short-term room for more funding.
For more information on U.S. charities, see all U.S. charities we've considered.
We discuss the process and criteria we used in 2010 to identify our top U.S. charities, and provide further detail on common evaluation problems and the sources of evidence we used.
We also reviewed four promising programs in-depth: Career Academies, Incredible Years, the Nurse-Family Partnership program, and volunteer tutoring.
See our page on most charities' evidence.
See our page on social programs that don't work.