The GiveWell Blog

Who needs in-kind donations more: The recipients or the givers?

First it was shoes, then shirts. I don’t have much to add on questions like “Are supplies in fact clogging the roads?” and “Are there in fact people in Africa who don’t wear shirts because they can’t find/afford them?” But to me, the argument against in-kind donations is both simple and general (i.e., it doesn’t… Read More

If you’re worried about high interest rates, you should be worried about any microfinance institution

I’m very interested in the recent debate over microfinance interest rates (see our response to the NYT article, as well as Te-Ping Chen’s comments at It seems that realizing how high interest rates can be has been a wake-up call to many that microfinance can easily be doing damage as well as good. If… Read More

Room for more funding and fungibility: From the horse’s mouth

We’ve previously argued that the “headline program” a charity uses to raise money may not be the one you’re effectively funding with donations – even if your donations are formally restricted to that program. (See our full series on the topic). Now the Chronicle of Philanthropy quotes a fundraiser saying exactly the same thing, as… Read More

Charity reviews vs. movie reviews

Note: I posted most of this post last night as a comment. There has been some interesting back-and-forth in the comments lately between Laura Deaton and me (see the Should Charity Evaluation be “fair”? thread). Laura seems worried that by issuing ratings and a list of “top” charities, we are implying a level of objectivity… Read More

No interest rate is too high

Recent coverage of microfinance has had a sharp focus on interest rates, implying some line between “reasonable” interest (associated with “social investment”) and “excessive” interest (associated with “loan sharking”). In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega, outraged that interest rates there were hovering around 35 percent in 2008, announced that he would back a microfinance institution that… Read More