The GiveWell Blog

Introducing our new Managing Director: Dr. Neil Buddy Shah

I’m very excited to announce that Dr. Neil Buddy Shah is joining GiveWell as Managing Director starting this summer.

We’re beyond thrilled that Buddy, a leader in the global health and development space, has chosen to be part of our team at this exciting time. We have significantly expanded our research focus over the past few years to identify high-impact giving opportunities beyond our current top charities list. In addition to working with me to set our strategy generally, a core component of Buddy’s work will be pushing our research and funding expansion forward by leading GiveWell’s efforts to learn from and contribute to the broader international development community.

He is exceptionally qualified to do so. Buddy has spent the last eight years as Founding Partner and CEO of IDinsight, a group GiveWell has worked closely with and supported through our Incubation Grants program. We’re confident that IDinsight will continue to do great work over the coming years.

Buddy is now heading the leadership transition process at IDinsight. He expects to join GiveWell around July. Welcome to the team!

About Buddy

Buddy’s impressive biography speaks to his commitment to and accomplishments in the global development sector. In addition to co-founding and leading IDinsight, a nearly 200-person organization dedicated to using data to improve international development programs and funding, he helped conceptualize and launch many of IDinsight’s contributions to the sector, including “decision-focused evaluations,” “embedded learning partnerships,” machine learning applications, and IDinsight’s large-scale, tech-enabled rural data collection infrastructure, “Data on Demand.”

Buddy has designed and co-led IDinsight engagements across Asia and Africa, working as a trusted advisor to senior leaders within national government ministries, multilaterals, foundations, and NGOs. He split his time between Cambodia, India, and Uganda while launching IDinsight’s first projects.

Before co-founding IDinsight, Buddy worked in the World Bank’s Governance and Public Sector Reform Unit and at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). He holds an AB in economics from Harvard, an MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and an MPA in International Development from Harvard Kennedy School. Buddy is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as visiting faculty in Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education program.

Buddy’s role

Buddy will work closely with me to set GiveWell’s high-level strategy: our goals and plans for achieving them. I expect that his success in founding, growing, and running a large non-profit will make him an excellent partner in this work. I have no plans to fundamentally change my role at GiveWell; Buddy will provide additional capacity and insights.

Another significant part of Buddy’s role will be engaging with the international development community. Although we have engaged regularly with the community over the past 12+ years, we haven’t made it a strategic priority to learn from and contribute to the community’s conversation about doing as much good as possible and to fund opportunities in support of that goal—until now.

Buddy plans to meet with leaders at development institutions, write op-eds and articles to raise our profile and share our findings, speak at key conferences, and identify opportunities to co-fund grants with others in this space. We believe this engagement will increase the impact of our work in a number of ways, including by:

  • Learning from the community. How can we improve our methodology? Which programs, charities, and grants should we evaluate?
  • Increasing the reach of our findings and methodology by proactively sharing with a community of people dedicated to poverty alleviation and global health.
  • Uncovering promising funding opportunities in global health and development and leading GiveWell’s grantmaking process to support them.
  • Raising our profile so that we can connect with great job candidates who will increase our impact.

We’re excited about all we expect Buddy to accomplish at GiveWell and look forward to having him on the team.


  • Our Father's House Soup Kitchen on February 7, 2020 at 4:02 am said:

    Absolutely insightful. Thank you so much for sharing this article. Looking forward to Buddy to accomplish the GiveWell. Please keep us posted about this one.

  • Get Qoral Health on February 8, 2020 at 9:54 am said:

    In this talk from EA Global 2018: San Francisco, Dr. Neil Buddy Shah makes three arguments about effective altruism: that effective altruists should continue to be rigorous, that we should consider riskier interventions than we do, and that we should tailor our interventions at least somewhat to the moral preferences of their beneficiaries.

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