The GiveWell Blog

Smile Train

These charts from Smile Train imply an appealing story: (a) Smile Train performs surgeries for $250 apiece. (b) Smile Train’s main use of donations is to fund $250 surgeries. (c) A donation to Smile Train funds more surgeries than would the same donation to another cleft palate organization. (d) If Smile Train had much more… Read More

Poor in the U.S. = rich

A single-parent family of three in New York, making $8000 per year, makes under half the income level of the Federal poverty line and qualifies for food stamps, TANF (direct cash benefits) and Medicaid. (Details at our guide to U.S. public assistance) And yet, at $2,667 per person per year, this family is wealthier than… Read More

Hunger here vs. hunger there

There has been a fair amount of buzz lately (examples here, here, here, here) about “food insecurity” in the U.S. According to the Reuters headline, one in seven Americans is short of food. In looking into the data, what has surprised us is how different the meaning of “hunger” is when we’re talking about the… Read More

Acumen Fund and social enterprise investment

Seth Godin makes an appealing case for “social enterprise investment” along the lines of The Acumen Fund: When two people trade, both win. No one buys a bar a soap unless the money they’re spending for the soap is worth less to them than the soap itself. When someone in poverty buys a device that… Read More

The Global Fund and transparency

We recently complained that “UNICEF provides no information about where the money goes and what projects are in progress.” Some might feel that this complaint comes from unrealistically high standards of transparency, especially for organizations such as UNICEF. How is an organization spending $2.7 billion a year supposed to report its activities? Our answer would… Read More

Two charities, one microfinance institution

We’re looking for a good option for U.S. donors interested in supporting microfinance. We’ve been examining the largest, most prominent U.S.-registered charities in this area: Grameen Foundation, Unitus, Accion, Women’s World Banking, Opportunity International and FINCA. All of these are large organizations that list a variety of “partner” microfinance institutions. One thing that might surprise… Read More