The GiveWell Blog

Why can’t you make the sale?

I recently attended a seminar with the fascinating Seth Godin and heard an interesting anecdote about VisionSpring: I could see that every single person who came to this meeting had enough money [$3] … to buy a pair of new reading glasses. And I could tell from how old they were that they were qualified… Read More

The Gates Foundation’s agriculture program: Experimenting or floundering?

Here’s what we know about the Gates Foundation’s agriculture program: Gates believes it’s suggestive that “apart from a few states and small, oil-rich countries, no country has managed a rapid rise from poverty without increasing agricultural productivity. In the poorest countries, agriculture employs a majority of the people.” This isn’t a new argument or an… Read More

Gates Foundation on agriculture funding: Where are the facts?

The Gates Foundation states that “funders have sharply cut their international aid to agricultural development over the past few decades.” It is implied that this is a major reason for the failure to see a “Green Revolution in Africa.” We have been unable to locate support for this claim. Using data from OECD – the… Read More

Village Phone: Another great story under the microscope

Ever since I heard about the Grameen Foundation’s Village Phone program, I’ve been optimistic. The program involves helping people in remote villages run pay-for-use cellphone services: they get their cellphone, and a loan to buy it, via Grameen, then charge other villagers to use it. It’s an approach to fighting poverty that’s (a) relatively new;… Read More

Helping farmers is harder than you’ve heard

Imagine that a charity is able to teach a farmer some basic, useful things about farming (like “crop rotation, dip irrigation and the planting of trees that enrich over worked soil” or “disease-resistant cassava replication, distribution and sale; crop diversification; soil conservation; and expanding market opportunities”). Such simple knowledge could last the farmer forever and… Read More

6 myths about microfinance charity that donors can do without

Is microfinance a good bet for a donor? We feel the answer is complicated, and that the many extreme exaggerations of microfinance’s impact get in the way of making an informed decision. This post summarizes the differences between the stories you’ve probably heard and the reality according to available evidence. Myth #1: the way microfinance… Read More