The GiveWell Blog

Celebrated charities that we don’t recommend

Normally, we focus on identifying outstanding charities, and minimize the time spent on opaque or otherwise lackluster ones. But lately, we’ve gone into a bit more detail about our take on several of the best-known and most appealing charities out there. What all of the charities below have in common is that (a) we have… Read More

Gifts of livestock (e.g., Heifer International)

It seems particularly hard to find information about the past impact of “gifts of livestock” programs (such as those promoted by Heifer International). I’ve been thinking about such programs conceptually, though, and I have a lot of trouble understanding the reasoning behind these programs. Two key points: It seems like giving out livestock brings with… Read More

Chess in the Schools

The New York Times recently profiled Chess in the Schools: The Chess-in-the-Schools program has sought to foster analytical skills on the theory that these will help students succeed academically. The group teaches 20,000 children a year and calculates that it has taught 425,000 children since 1986. Children gather to learn the game at the group’s… Read More

Why can’t you make the sale?

I recently attended a seminar with the fascinating Seth Godin and heard an interesting anecdote about VisionSpring: I could see that every single person who came to this meeting had enough money [$3] … to buy a pair of new reading glasses. And I could tell from how old they were that they were qualified… Read More

Village Phone: Another great story under the microscope

Ever since I heard about the Grameen Foundation’s Village Phone program, I’ve been optimistic. The program involves helping people in remote villages run pay-for-use cellphone services: they get their cellphone, and a loan to buy it, via Grameen, then charge other villagers to use it. It’s an approach to fighting poverty that’s (a) relatively new;… Read More

Agriculture charity evaluation: Incomes boosted are not the same as lives changed

What’s wrong with this “evidence of impact” for high-profile charities? The Millennium Villages project‘s main evidence of impact so far appears to be increasing crop yields by a factor of 4-15x in 3 villages. (H/T to the recent coverage of Millennium Villages on Aid Watch) A KickStart evaluation (available on our website (DOC)) reports that… Read More