The GiveWell Blog

Getting the word out

It’s been about 5 days since we released our Africa report, and now we’re trying to get the word out. Some stuff: This week’s Chronicle of Philanthropy features us, and in a true act of sadism puts me on the cover. Smart Money mentions us in an article on intelligent giving. On the other hand,…

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What a “life saved” means

The goal of Cause 1 is to save lives in Africa, and we estimate that a good strategy can save a human life for somewhere in the ballpark of $1000. Sounds like an unbelievable deal, right?

Not to everyone. I was recently talking to a Board member and mentioned how much cheaper it seems to be to change/save lives in Africa vs. NYC. He responded, “Yeah, but what kind of life are you saving in Africa? Is that person just going to die of something else the next year?”

I think it’s interesting how (a) completely fair, relevant and important this question is for a donor; (b) how rarely we see questions like this (“Sure I helped someone, but what kind of life did I enable?”) brought up and analyzed. Here’s what we know right now:

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