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

Donor illusions

There’s an persistent conflict in international charity: It feels great to be able to say, “My donation helped THIS person.” But it’s rarely – if ever – practical for that sort of connection to be real. As a result, international charities tend to create “donor illusions” by implying that donations can be attributed more tangibly,… 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