The GiveWell Blog

In defense of the streetlight effect

In a recent guest post for Development Impact, Martin Ravallion writes: The current fashion [for evaluating aid projects] is for randomized control trials (RCTs) and social experiments more generally … The problem is that the interventions for which currently favored methods are feasible constitute a non-random subset of the things that are done by donors… Read More

Suggestions for the social sciences

Chris Blattman cites our advice on using academic research and asks for “Other suggestions for the profession.” We have several and this seemed like a good time to share them. Our suggestions should be taken in context, of course. On one hand, we do not have staff with backgrounds in academia; there’s a lot we… Read More

Microlending debate: An example of why academic research should be used with caution

We often use academic research to inform our work, but we try to do so with great caution, rather than simply taking reported results at face value. We believe that if you trust academic research just because it is peer-reviewed, published, and/or reputable, this is a mistake. A good example of why we’re concerned comes… Read More

Evaluating local charities in India

A donor of ours earmarked $10,000 for regranting to a local charity in India, and in deciding how to give this away (and for general learning) we conducted 20+ site visits to small NGOs during our travels. In a sense, this was a chance for us to try out a more traditional method of giving:… Read More

Natalie’s general notes from living in India

Previous posts shared Holden’s and Elie’s general thoughts from last year’s several-month staff trip to India. This post shares my thoughts; the next will discuss our thought process in deciding which local charity to support. General notes on site visits I was quite surprised (pleasantly so) by how receptive the charity directors we contacted in… Read More

Elie’s general notes from living in India

A previous post shared Holden’s general thoughts from last year’s several-month staff trip to India. This post shares my thoughts; the next will share Natalie’s. Site visits are short and it’s impossible get a full picture of an organization, its work, and its likely impact. But, little things about how programs look on the ground… Read More