The GiveWell Blog

How we evaluate a study

We previously wrote about our general principles for assessing evidence, where “evidence” is construed broadly (it may include awards/recognition/reputation, testimony, and broad trends in data as well as formal studies). Here we discuss our approach to a particular kind of evidence, what we call “micro data”: formal studies of the impact of a program on… Read More

Rethinking VillageReach’s pilot project

Background Over the past 3 years, VillageReach has received over $2 million as a direct result of our recommendation. VillageReach put these funds towards its work to scale up its health logistics program, which it implemented as a pilot project in one province in Mozambique between 2002 and 2007, to the rest of the country…. Read More

What it takes to evaluate impact

When someone asks me what makes GiveWell different from other third-party charity evaluators, I often answer by listing all the things we’ve done in order to investigate our current top-rated charity, VillageReach. We’ve done extensive background research on international aid and argued for key takeaways such as the overall promise of international aid for donors,… Read More

In defense of the streetlight effect

In a recent guest post for Development Impact, Martin Ravallion writes: The current fashion [for evaluating aid projects] is for randomized control trials (RCTs) and social experiments more generally … The problem is that the interventions for which currently favored methods are feasible constitute a non-random subset of the things that are done by donors… Read More

Can choosing the right charity double your impact?

Reader Evan writes: I’ve been thinking about how best to donate to Haiti, and I reviewed some of the materials on your website and found them pretty helpful and persuasive. So thank you! But then my law firm announced that it would match donations to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders. Given that, I… Read More

More on the microfinance “repayment rate”

We are concerned about the way repayment rates are often reported. We’ve written about this issue before, arguing that different delinquency indicators can easily be misleading and pointing to one example we found where a microfinance institution’s reported repayment rate substantially obscures the portion of its borrowers that have repaid loans. Following the links from… Read More