The GiveWell Blog

Are GiveWell’s top charities the best option for every donor?

We’re sometimes asked whether we think GiveWell’s top charities are the “best,” in some absolute sense of the word, or whether we’d ever advise that a donor give to an opportunity outside of our recommendations. This post aims to clarify how GiveWell thinks about different giving options and their suitability for different types of donors.

We believe that GiveWell’s top charities offer donors an outstanding opportunity to do a lot of good and are the best option for most donors. However, some donors—those with a very high degree of trust in a particular individual or organization to make this decision, donors with lots of time (in excess of 50 hours per year, and likely more) to consider their giving decision, or donors whose values point strongly toward a particular cause outside of the ones GiveWell covers—may find opportunities to have a greater impact per dollar than GiveWell’s top charities. Note that we think these characteristics are likely to be necessary, but not sufficient, for finding these types of opportunities; we still expect good giving to be hard, and spending, for example, 50 hours per year on research isn’t necessarily going to yield better opportunities.

In this post, we describe relevant considerations for donors in greater detail.

How thin the reed? Generalizing from “Worms at Work”

Hookworm (AJC1/flickr) My last post explains why I largely trust the most famous school-based deworming experiment, in particular the report in Worms at Work about its long-term benefits. That post also gives background on the deworming debate, so please read it first. In this post, I’ll talk about the problem of generalization. If deworming in southern Busia… Read More

Why I mostly believe in Worms

The following statements are true: “GiveWell is a nonprofit dedicated to finding outstanding giving opportunities through in-depth analysis. Thousands of hours of research have gone into finding our top-ratepd charities.” GiveWell recommends four deworming charities as having outstanding expected value. Why? Hundreds of millions of kids harbor parasitic worms in their guts[1]. Treatment is safe,… Read More

Our updated top charities for giving season 2016

We have refreshed our top charity rankings and recommendations. We now have seven top charities: our four top charities from last year and three new additions. We have also added two new organizations to our list of charities that we think deserve special recognition (previously called “standout” charities). Instead of ranking organizations, we rank funding… Read More

Deworming might have huge impact, but might have close to zero impact

We try to communicate that there are risks involved with all of our top charity recommendations, and that none of our recommendations are a “sure thing.” Our recommendation of deworming programs (the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and the Deworm the World Initiative), though, carries particularly significant risk (in the sense of possibly not doing much/any good,… Read More