GiveWell does not solicit donations from the general public. We cover our operating expenses mostly by privately soliciting donations from people (and institutions) who are big fans of our work. This allows us to operate – when dealing with those outside our “inner circle” – as a pure advisor, without having to “compete with our own top charities.”
Occasionally this policy creates some confusion for donors interested in giving to promote “effective giving” in general, not just interested in directly funding proven interventions. Such donors sometimes express interest in donating directly to GiveWell, and when we state that we aren’t seeking donations from them, they conclude that their giving can’t help us. But it can, significantly, if they give to our recommended charities (in such a way that we can track the donation).
The main way this takes place is through our money moved metric, which tracks the donations given to our recommended charities on the basis of our recommendations. This figure has several important implications for our mission:
We advertise our “money moved” figure for charities in order to make the case that our investigations are worth their time. Since our founding 2007, we’ve seen continuously improving access to the people whom we need to speak with in order to do our research well: charity representatives, academics, etc. We believe our growing “money moved” has been a key factor. Because of this dynamic, higher “money moved” directly improves the quality and efficiency of our research process.
More generally, our “money moved” figure serves as a general indicator for interest in effective giving. We hope that in the future, the “effective giving” world will be much larger, with more organizations devoted to helping to find the best giving opportunities. People who would consider starting such organizations can learn about the size of the potential “market” from our figures. Charities that are outside our current scope may still wish to start planning for a future in which our sort of analysis plays a larger role, and our figures may serve as an indication of how likely this future is.
Our “money moved” figure is a major tool for our own fundraising, and a major input into the size of our operating budget. The higher the figure, the stronger the case for a growing operating budget, and the easier time we have raising the funds we need for it.
Our growth in money moved has been strong so far. If this weren’t the case, we’d have had far more trouble raising money, doing research, and making the case for our influence.
If you’re a donor looking to help GiveWell in our mission, please consider
- Donating to our top charities.
- Making sure that the donation is attributable to GiveWell and thus countable in our “money moved” metric. You can do this by giving using GiveWell’s website (note that in the case of our #1 charity, AMF, our website points to AMF’s website and AMF provides the tracking function) or by using our donation report form.
- Telling your friends about us using Facebook, Twitter, email, or in-person conversations. Note that we track the number of donations we influence as well as the number of dollars, and we pay attention to (and advertise) the robustness of our “money moved” figure as well as the level.