The GiveWell Blog

TakeAction @ GuideStar

We are thrilled to announce a partnership with GuideStar via its new feature, TakeAction @ GuideStar.

TakeAction allows donors to select a cause that interests them and see general information as well as recommended charities, with content provided by GiveWell, Philanthropedia, and Great Nonprofits.

To date, GuideStar has provided only basic information, and only information at the level of “charities,” not “causes.” A donor searching for a particular charity could find financial information and (in some cases) open-participation reviews from Great Nonprofits, but could not find (a) information about the charities’ likely effectiveness & impact; (b) information to help get basic grounding in a cause, and choose the best charities within it.

We are particularly excited about the latter change. We believe strongly in “active giving” (finding the best charity possible in your cause of interest) as opposed to “passive giving” (starting with a particular charity in mind and giving as long as it raises no red flags). We believe that GuideStar’s new content is a major and important step toward helping its users give to the best possible organizations, and create healthier incentives in the sector.

TakeAction is new, and we expect that it has a lot of progress yet to make. (We believe that all three of the partner organizations have a lot of progress of our own to make, hopefully leading to coverage of more causes among other things). Today’s launch is only a preliminary step. GuideStar recognizes this and is eager for feedback, so please send it using the “Feedback” links on their various pages.

But for a sector that has been dominated by flawed, superficial metrics and giving focused on donors’ needs, rather than recipients’, this is an enormously encouraging development. One of the oldest, best-established donor resources is partnering with new ventures so that it can make real progress in what it enables donors to do. We hope this is just the beginning.


  • Michael on April 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm said:

    Amazing and hard work. Do you only run from donations or is there an income stream at all from this impressive site and great service? Keep it up either way.


  • Gayle GIfford on April 14, 2010 at 3:40 pm said:

    These raters are all looking rather incestuous to me. In the name of transparency, I’d like to know the degree of overlap on boards and I’d be very interested in the funding streams that are behind all of them.

  • Holden on April 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm said:

    Gayle, I am not clear on what can be gained by answering these questions. TakeAction is explicitly a partnership; it seems to me that one should always assume that personal relationships may be a factor in a partnership (though in our case I don’t think they are a major one). TakeAction’s goal is to make certain information publicly and widely available; it seems to me that this information should be judged on its merits. How would it change the picture if these groups had significant overlap in Board members or funders?

    That said, I’ll share what I know about the overlap:

    • None of GiveWell’s staff or Board members serve on the staff or Boards Directors of GuideStar or any of the partners. I do serve on the GuideStar Exchange Advisory Board, which has no role in governance.
    • I believe that all of the TakeAction partners (including GiveWell), as well as GuideStar, have received funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The Hewlett Foundation has generally encouraged collaboration.
    • We are not aware of any affiliations with GuideStar or the TakeAction partners among any of our donors aside from the Hewlett Foundation.

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