The GiveWell Blog

Disaster relief report published; Doctors Without Borders, Partners In Health, and Direct Relief International stand out

Our new report grades major disaster relief organizations on their transparency and accountability to donors. It provides detailed reports on each charity, a summary table with our conclusions, and the full details of our process.

We conclude that Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health and Direct Relief International stand out for the clarity with which they discuss their activities and expenditures.

Over the coming months, we’ll be adding to this report by examining information from the response to the 2004 Asian tsunami. We’ll also be providing some more discussion of non-transparency-related factors behind the donation decision. For example, Direct Relief International and Doctors Without Borders are very different in their focus – the former focuses on distributing supplies while the latter largely facilitates and supplies medical treatment. Personally, I find the latter to be a more appealing vehicle for addressing pressing and challenging needs in a relief situation. Other donors may prefer to support organizations with broader mandates, which are more likely to play direct roles in (for example) providing shelter and assisting with longer-term reconstruction.

That said, we feel that what we have now is a substantial improvement over the information and analysis previously available to donors. It consolidates the clearest and most detailed information provided by each organization, and it can help donors take a first step toward creating incentives for organizations to raise money by being more transparent (and not just more pushy in fundraising) than their competitors.

While we haven’t assessed the quality of individual organizations’ relief efforts, we have accompanied our report with a general overview of what the overall relief effort has and hasn’t accomplished in the year since the disaster, and for how much.

GiveWell’s report on major disaster relief organizations