The GiveWell Blog

Why we prefer the carrot to the stick

A couple of the commenters on a previous post object to our idea of “rewarding failure” and prefer to focus on “putting the bad charities out of business.” In theory, I’d like to see a world where all charities are evaluated meaningfully, and only the effective ones survive. But the world we’re in is just… Read More


Dan Pallotta sent me a copy of Uncharitable about a month ago, and I’ve been late in taking a look at it. I highly recommend it for people interested in general discussions of the nonprofit sector. The discussion I’ve seen of the book so far (Nicholas Kristof and Sean Stannard-Stockton) has focused on how much… Read More

A proposal to reward failure

Here’s a grant idea we’d probably pursue if we had the funds to do so. I’d be interested in what other grantmakers think of it. I believe enormous good could be done by offering grants to charities that can prove their programs don’t work. Proving a program’s ineffectiveness is difficult and expensive – just as… Read More

Guest post: Proven programs are the exception, not the rule

This is a guest post from David Anderson, Assistant Director at the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, the group responsible for the Evidenced-based Programs website. Mr. Anderson’s responsibilities include reviewing studies of effectiveness and looking for proven programs. He’s worked at the Coalition since 2004. The views expressed below are solely those of the writer. The… Read More

Before you donate

Nathaniel Whittemore’s Social Entrepreneurship Blog asks bloggers for “one thing you need to know before you donate to charity this holiday season.” My answer: you need to know that your favorite social program might just not work. This isn’t a warning against fraud or inefficiency (though both of those are important too). It’s a warning… Read More

Strong results for malaria vaccine

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports strong results from a clinical trial testing the efficacy of a malaria vaccine. The double-blind, randomized trial found a significant impact on malaria incidence among the group receiving the malaria vaccine. The full study is available here. The summary results: 894 children were randomly… Read More