The GiveWell Blog

Embedded philanthropy

This blog post is part of the Embedded Philanthropy Blog Series, sponsored by Telecom for Charity. The blog series was launched in May 2009 to highlight expert thinking and encourage discussions on the state of embedded philanthropy in today’s economy. “Embedded philanthropy” (as defined by former GiveWell Board member Lucy Bernholz, via Tactical Philanthropy) is… Read More

Some thoughts on the yellow fever vaccine

There’s news today that the Yellow Fever Initiative is facing a budget shortfall and may be unable to purchase needed vaccines in the near future (h/t Christine Gorman): Emergency supplies of yellow fever vaccines are set to run out next year, and there is no funding to continue immunisation campaigns after that, World Health Organisation… Read More

What can the developed world teach the developing world?

When we aim for something more ambitious than transferring our wealth to those in need, we’re often implicitly assuming that we have superior knowledge, compared to the people we’re trying to help. This seems to me to be the sort of thinking underlying this comment: “how does handing out cash build community, solve macro problems,… Read More

Pitfalls of the overhead ratio?

Good Intentions are not Enough gives some stunning examples of how charity can go wrong, and specifically points at the widespread emphasis on “low overhead” (which we have repeatedly criticized) as a culprit. It’s worth noting that literal “administrative expenses” metric is often less harmful than the broader definition of “overhead.” For example, many evaluation… Read More

Why not just give out cash?

Aid Watch raises an interesting question: why should nonprofits provide medical treatment, education, or anything else other than cash handouts to those in the greatest need? I can only think of two reasons, both noted in the Aid Watch post. Reason 1: perhaps charities can make better decisions on behalf of disadvantaged people than those… Read More