The GiveWell Blog

Allocation of discretionary funds from Q2 2018

In April to June 2018, we received $1.2 million in funding for making grants at our discretion. In addition, GiveWell’s Board of Directors voted to allocate $2.9 million in unrestricted funds to making grants to recommended charities. In this post we discuss:

  • The decision to allocate the $4.1 million to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) (70 percent) and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) (30 percent).
  • Our recommendation that donors give to GiveWell for granting to top charities at our discretion so that we can direct the funding to the top charity or charities with the most pressing funding need. For donors who prefer to give directly to our top charities, we continue to recommend giving 70 percent of your donation to AMF and 30 percent to SCI to maximize your impact.
  • Why we have allocated unrestricted funds to making grants to recommended charities.

Allocation of discretionary funds

The allocation of 70 percent of the funds to AMF and 30 percent to SCI follows the recommendation we have made, and continue to make, to donors. For more discussion on this allocation, see our blog post about allocating discretionary funds from the fourth quarter of 2017.

We ask each top charity to provide details of how they will use additional funding each year, as part of our process to update our “room for more funding” summary for each top charity. This year, we have asked for this information by the end of July. We also ask each of our top charities to let us know if they encounter unexpected funding gaps at other times of year. We have not learned of new funding gaps in the last quarter.

What is our recommendation to donors?

We continue to recommend that donors give to GiveWell for granting to top charities at our discretion so that we can direct the funding to the top charity or charities with the most pressing funding need. For donors who prefer to give directly to our top charities, we are continuing to recommend giving 70 percent of your donation to AMF and 30 percent to SCI to maximize your impact. The reasons for this recommendation are the same as in our Q4 2017 post on allocating discretionary funding.

We will complete a full analysis of our top charities’ funding gaps and cost-effectiveness by November and expect to update our recommendation to donors at that time.

Why we have allocated unrestricted funds to making grants to recommended charities

In June, GiveWell’s Board of Directors voted to allocate $2.9 million in unrestricted funds to making grants to recommended charities. We generally use unrestricted funds to support GiveWell’s operating costs. The decision was made to grant out some of the unrestricted funds we hold in accordance with two policies:

  • Our “excess assets” policy specifies that once we surpass a certain level of unrestricted assets, we grant out the excess rather than continue to hold it ourselves. We reviewed our unrestricted asset holdings and projected revenue and expenses for 2018-2020 and concluded that we held $1.8 million more than was required to give us a stable, predictable financial situation (details of how this rule is applied are at the previous link). The Board voted to irrevocably restrict this amount to making grants to recommended charities. Note that we continue to need ongoing donor support for our operations. This decision incorporates our projections for future donations.
  • In order to limit the risks of relying too heavily on any single source of revenue, we cap the amount of funding that we will use from one source to support our operating costs at 20% of our projected annual expenses. In early 2018, we received a donation of $2.1 million in unrestricted funds. Our operating expense budget for 2018 is $4.9 million. Therefore, the Board voted to retain $1.0 million to support operating costs in 2018 and irrevocably restrict $1.1 million to making grants to recommended charities.

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