Added October 2022: From 2020 to 2022 we used the name “Maximum Impact Fund” to refer to the fund used to support the highest-priority funding needs among our top charities each quarter. In September 2022, we changed the name of this fund to the “Top Charities Fund” to better describe what opportunities this fund supports; more information here.
Thanks to our donors, we have disbursed $23.3 million in flexible funding to our top charities this year. This generous, flexible support is worthy of celebration!
This post focuses on our decision to grant $15.3 million to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), which includes the $11.7 million that donors gave to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion” in the first half of 2020.
AMF supports the distribution of insecticide-treated nets in areas with high rates of malaria. The nets stop mosquitoes from biting and spreading the disease. We estimate our donors’ support for AMF will collectively save over 3,000 lives, mostly of young children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Guinea. Without this grant, we think net distributions in DRC and Guinea would have been delayed.
We believe that AMF was the highest-impact choice for this grant. We chose AMF after assessing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our top charities, the urgency of our top charities’ funding needs, and our estimates of their impact per dollar. We’re grateful for GiveWell donors’ trust in providing flexible funding to fill this need.
Why we chose AMF
We typically allocate flexible donations to our top charities every quarter. However, we delayed allocating the donations we received to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion” in the first quarter of 2020. We wanted to better understand the impact of the growing COVID-19 pandemic on charities’ budgets and plans before making a decision about where funding would have the greatest impact.
AMF was a top contender for receiving this grant because of its high estimated impact per dollar. It is continuing its work during the pandemic, with some delays and modifications. However, we wanted to resolve a couple open questions about its work before making a grant.
First, we wanted to make sure that AMF needed additional funding. At the end of 2019, it held around $70 million that was earmarked for specific distributions, but we were unsure how much of this funding would be formally committed. As of June 2020, AMF had committed nearly all of this funding and held only around $4 million in uncommitted funds. Distributions AMF hoped to carry out in DRC and Guinea in late 2021 to early 2022 would require significantly more than $4 million. There is a strong case the distributions would be delayed without this grant, as funding needs to be secured well before nets are provided.
Second, we wanted to confirm that AMF had solid processes for checking that nets reached their intended recipients and were in use and in good condition. We expect strong monitoring from all of our top charities. We investigated AMF’s current monitoring practices in detail this year and believe AMF meets our high standards. We plan to share more about this work in the coming months.
Other options considered
We considered making grants to Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program and Helen Keller International (HKI)’s vitamin A supplementation program, as we estimated that they were similarly cost-effective to AMF when we began our decisionmaking process. However, our investigation into their current plans and budgets did not turn up urgent funding needs. We had directed an $8 million grant to Malaria Consortium’s SMC program in June because of its high estimated cost-effectiveness, and we did not believe that it had additional time-sensitive needs following receipt of those funds. We decided to wait until the end of the year to revisit making grants to Malaria Consortium and HKI.
AMF emerged as our clear choice with its time-sensitive need for funding that we estimated would save a lot of lives.
Our bottom line for donors giving today
Going forward, we recommend that donors give to the Maximum Impact Fund (formerly known as “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion”). We will direct these funds where we believe they can be used most effectively.
We expect the $15.3 million grant to cover most of AMF’s urgent needs. For donors who wish to support a specific charity today, we recommend Malaria Consortium’s SMC program. We now model donations there as having the highest impact among our top charities.
We expect donations to Malaria Consortium will support its work in 2022. Providing funding to enable work in the future can be a high-impact option for donors, and we believe that supporting Malaria Consortium today is a great choice for donors seeking to maximize the good they accomplish per dollar donated.
We’re so grateful to our community of donors for providing flexible funding that will support the distribution of nets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea. Thank you!
Sources and footnotes for this post may be found here.
Update on October 16, 2020: We realized that an earlier version of this post’s title may have incorrectly implied that the total given to the Maximum Impact Fund in the first half of 2020 included a separate, unrestricted donation of $3.6 million that we granted to AMF; see here for details. We have updated the title to avoid this confusion.