The GiveWell Blog

Do you have questions about giving in 2020?

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.

Many people make charitable donations in December. If you’re considering making a gift in the coming weeks and you want more information before doing so, we’re happy to help!

We’re glad to answer questions in writing and on the phone. For written responses, please email or leave a comment on this blog post. For a phone call, please fill out this form to request a call with a GiveWell staff member.

We’re happy to field questions on topics like:

  • which organizations we recommend most highly today and why,
  • the pros and cons of different donation methods,
  • the tax deductibility of different giving options and the implications of the CARES Act for U.S. donors,
  • support for logistical questions about making a donation,
  • additional details on the Maximum Impact Fund, our top recommendation for donors,
  • and more.

We hope to hear from you!


  • Sonia Albrecht on December 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm said:

    How do you calculate that “Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program is 16 times as cost-effective as GiveDirectly’s standard (non-COVID-19) cash transfer program.[8] “? In particular, how do you compare outcomes that are measured in lives saved to outcomes that are measured in income increased?

  • Siegfried Wenus on January 4, 2021 at 6:57 am said:

    Hi! I listened to a podcast from Tim Ferris recommending
    After traveling in many underdeveloped countries, I personally think the only way of helping people, in the long run, is to give kids access to education. The education needs also to be able to alter certain cultural behavior, like female suppression, lack of common social contribution beyond the own family and so on. I would like to donate to an effective organization in this field. Do you have any recommendations?

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on January 4, 2021 at 5:48 pm said:

    Hi Sonia,

    I’m glad you found our information on moral weights! That’s the right link for explaining our overall approach. The specific moral weights inputs we used at the end of 2020 are in our cost-effectiveness model here (with additional information in the cell notes).

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on January 4, 2021 at 5:50 pm said:

    Hi Siegfried,

    Thanks for your question! We don’t recommend any programs focused on education. In general, GiveWell aims to find the programs that we believe will have the greatest impact with additional donations. We currently think the evidence for educational programs is less strong than the evidence supporting the programs we recommend today. We’ve written about our research on education here.

  • Elon Musk recently asked for feedback on how to donate his wealth in a way that will make a difference. Jeff Bezos in the past has also asked the same question. Have you ever thought of organizing a twitter campaign to get a few thousand Givewell supporters to tweet at Musk or Bezos and see if they notice? Or maybe just asking them through private channels? They could probably close the current room for more funding gap for every Givewell charity and not even blink, and it seems like the data and outcome driven approach of Givewell would appeal to tech people. Just a thought.

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on January 12, 2021 at 12:44 pm said:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Aiyana on January 19, 2021 at 5:38 am said:

    Why covid-19 came? This thing changed our entire life.

  • Linda W. Sims on February 5, 2021 at 11:56 am said:

    Your Guidestar profile is incomplete. See
    Based on the Mission statement it sounds like you evaluate NPO’s, but don’t actually give donations to them. After reviewing your FACEBOOK page, it appears you do donate funds. I suggest you complete GuideStar info about your company. I prefer to review an independent organizations’ assessment of a company.

  • I’ve recently become aware of your organization and appreciate your work investigating my impacts as a donor. I’ve also been a long-time donor to KIVA (and a few other small micro-finance charities). Most of your research on micro-finance was mixed at best, but it was also mostly a decade old. Wondering if you have more recent research on trends, both positive and negative, in micro-finance and if it still remains fiscally dubious.

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on February 11, 2021 at 4:00 pm said:

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for letting us know!

    You’re absolutely right that in addition to sharing our research and our list of top charities, we also accept donations for the organizations we recommend. You can read more about that here.

    We also make GiveWell Incubation Grants.

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on February 11, 2021 at 4:03 pm said:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your question! We focus our research process on the programs that seem most promising, according to our criteria. We deprioritized our work on microfinance after 2011 because we found that the evidence of impact wasn’t as positive or as strong as it is for our other priority programs. You can find more information on our page about microfinance. We are unlikely to revisit our conclusions on microfinance in the near term, unless we learn of new evidence that suggests we should reprioritize it.

    You might find some of our older writing on the topic interesting:
    * This blog post compares cash transfers (e.g., the work done by GiveWell top charity GiveDirectly) to microfinance (e.g., Kiva).
    * This page discusses “giving marketplaces” like Kiva. There was a 2009 discussion over exactly how the “giving marketplace” connection works and whether Kiva was presenting a misleading picture, which we discuss in a series of posts that can be found here.
    * We wrote about microfinance interest rates here.

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