The GiveWell Blog

June 2016 open thread

Our goal with hosting quarterly open threads is to give blog readers an opportunity to publicly raise comments or questions about GiveWell or related topics (in the comments section below). As always, you’re also welcome to email us at or to request a call with GiveWell staff if you have feedback or questions you’d prefer to discuss privately. We’ll try to respond promptly to questions or comments.

If you have questions related to the Open Philanthropy Project, you can post those in the Open Philanthropy Project’s open thread.

You can view our March 2016 open thread here.


  • Chris on June 16, 2016 at 8:18 am said:

    In the past I have given to Givewell to direct my donations to a specific charity– with 10% added to support Givewell.

    Is there anyway to go back and see what charities I have directed my donation to? Or will my reccords just show the money as having just gone to Givewell since I have directed it through givewell?

  • John Saunders on June 16, 2016 at 8:24 am said:

    I’ve been looking at the discussion of ‘talent gaps’ (in contrast to ‘funding gaps’) on the 80,000 hours blog:

    Do you have a take on their relative importance, and in relation to ‘earning to give’ more generally?

  • Vipul Naik on June 16, 2016 at 1:14 pm said:

    Two quick questions:

    (1) What’s the timeline for publishing the Q1 2016 money moved and web traffic review? Or, is the review discontinued?

    (2) Does GiveWell plan to do a formal announcement of the mid-year update to its charity recommendations? This was mentioned in an earlier blog post, and I see various updates posted to the mailing list, but no clear announcement yet of an overall list refresh.

  • 1) Has the GiveWell team considered adding a means of fundraising for the recommended charities? It’s easy to donate using the GiveWell website, but if I want to have a fundraising page to gather others’ donations, I have to go to a third party. I think this functionality would allow you more direct ways of tracking money moved and expose more people to GiveWell. If I use a third party to raise money for AMF, for example, my donors won’t see the GiveWell website and I am obliged to report back to you once I get the donations in.

    2) Has GiveWell considered putting together a summary video about the organization and philosophy (explanatory animations always welcome) to be used as an alternative to the usual graphic-less write-ups that are intended for a less pedestrian audience? This would seem to follow your other outreach efforts (I.e., podcast) and support item 1.

  • Sean (GiveWell) on June 17, 2016 at 4:08 pm said:

    Hi John – we don’t have an overall take on the relative importance of talent gaps vs funding gaps. We believe that both types of gap exist: regarding funding gaps, our top charities have substantial room for more funding, including the Against Malaria Foundation’s substantial gap and the possibility that GiveDirectly could give away hundreds of millions of dollars in the long-term. For more on this, see our November 2015 top charities announcement post.

    We also see substantial “talent gaps.” We wrote about this in a post on charities we’d like to see created. We’ve also
    written about the fact
    that throughout GiveWell’s history, our talent gap for staff has tended to be more pressing than our funding gap as an organization.

    Finally, we wrote a post with our take on the idea of “earning to give.”

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on June 20, 2016 at 1:48 pm said:

    Chris – thanks for your support! We’d be happy to follow up with you about which charities you’ve supported; you can email for your individual donation records.

    There are a few different ways to direct funding to our recommended charities by donating through GiveWell’s website, which will be reflected on your GiveWell donation receipt:

    (1) Indicating specifically which charities you’d like your funding to support (e.g., designating your donation for the Against Malaria Foundation). In this case, we’ll redirect your funding to that organization, and that organization’s name will be reflected on your receipt from GiveWell.

    (2) Donating to “grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion.” In this case, GiveWell will apply its judgment to allocate the donation among recommended charities. We expect to follow our most up-to-date recommended funding allocation to make these decisions (we currently recommend an allocation of 100% to the Against Malaria Foundation). Your receipt from GiveWell will say “Grants to recommended charities.”

    (3) Donating to GiveWell’s operations. This funding supports GiveWell as an organization, and is not redirected to our top charities unless we surpass a certain level of unrestricted assets, at which point we will regrant additional funding to our top charities. Your receipt from GiveWell will say “GiveWell operating support.”

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on June 20, 2016 at 1:50 pm said:

    Vipul –

    (1) The quarterly reviews have not been discontinued. We deprioritized the Q1 report due to other priorities in the past few weeks, but plan to post it soon.
    (2) We are planning to publish a blog post announcing our mid-year update once our updated reviews are posted. We hope these will be published in the next few weeks.

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on June 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm said:

    Ben –

    1) We are not planning to add a means of fundraising for our recommended charities at this time. We imagine this would take some staff time to set up and are unsure whether there would be significant demand for the service. That said, we have directed individuals interested in this type of outreach to the Against Malaria Foundation’s website, which enables you to set up a fundraising page: Charity Science, a foundation focused on public outreach around effective charities, including GiveWell’s recommended charities, also has more information about conducting fundraisers for charities on its website.

    2) This is something we have considered, but are not currently prioritizing. A high-quality video would be a difficult and time-intensive project, and not one we’re sure we’re well-suited to at the moment, especially relative to our other priorities.

  • Vipul Naik on June 21, 2016 at 9:10 pm said:

    Hi Catherine,

    “We deprioritized the Q1 report due to other priorities in the past few weeks, but plan to post it soon.”

    The delay in quarterly reviews appears to have been increasing over time (previously, it used to be published a week after the quarter ended; in Q2 2015, it was one month late, then in Q3 2015, it was two months late). Since there will always be other priorities (twice-a-year recommendation refreshes, organizational restructuring, training new recruits, outreach efforts, or whatever else is being done right now) I am wondering what a reasonable timeframe is to expect the quarterly review to be published in order to serve a meaningful function as a quarterly review, and when unusual circumstances/other priorities will settle down sufficiently in order to be able to meet that deadline.

    “We are planning to publish a blog post announcing our mid-year update once our updated reviews are posted. We hope these will be published in the next few weeks.”

    Thanks for the update. I understand that this is a new effort by GiveWell and the timeline and workflow for it are not thoroughly established.

    I appreciate GiveWell’s efforts to publish quarterly reviews and recommendation refreshes, and to communicate in advance anticipated deadlines for these. However, I feel that one potential area for improvement is clear communication of cases where previously announced timelines will no longer be met, in order to reduce the need for follow-ups. Possible ways to do so without necessarily overloading people who are not that interested include: (a) sending emails to the Google Groups mailing list, and (b) adding updates to previous blog posts/announcements with revised timelines, when it becomes clear that the original timeline won’t be met, so that somebody who is wondering what happened to the previously announced expected timeline can check and see the new status.

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on June 23, 2016 at 10:12 am said:

    Vipul –

    Thanks for your comments. Due to our staff size and competing priorities, the timing of our publications may vary from project to project, or quarter to quarter. We do our best to publish on a reasonable timeframe while also being flexible to other priorities and the need to work carefully to ensure accuracy. We don’t currently plan to implement a new system for updating on our timelines due to our uncertainty about how to implement this most usefully and without being too capacity-intensive.

  • Chris Corliss on June 23, 2016 at 3:13 pm said:

    Hi, I attended the New York research event and Holden mentioned that it may be better to move up 2016 contributions for AMF, rather than wait until the holiday season. Could you provide any more detail around that?


  • Catherine (GiveWell) on June 24, 2016 at 11:16 am said:

    Chris –

    We ultimately decided not to urge donors to move up their gifts this year. We just published our mid-year top charities update, which discusses this question. The update is available here:

  • Vipul Naik on September 19, 2016 at 3:43 pm said:

    When will you host the next open thread? Or, are the open threads discontinued?

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on September 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm said:

    Vipul –

    The September open thread was pushed back a few days due to capacity constraints resulting from the launch of our new website and blog. We will have a new open thread published on the GiveWell blog this week.

Comments are closed.