The GiveWell Blog

March 2021 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.

You can view previous open threads here.


  • Greetings,

    I had a few questions.

    1. I was wondering, has Givewell considered notifying their donors on their email list when your top charities are having independent donation matching events so as to further maximize the impact of their contributions, not exclusively through Givewell? It seems like a wasted opportunity when those donation matching periods occur but people who would normally donate to those top charities through Givewell do not hear about them. I think you should consider helping your base be more engaged with those opportunities.

    2. What insights for Givewell management did you extract from the donation matching campaign that Givewell set up for first time donors last year?

    3. Why has Givewell not redesigned their payment processing page to give donors a convenient option to donate directly from their bank accounts instead of credit/debit card so as to save on processing fees? I know this is mentioned as an alternate option on the right side of the page and we are given information to do it ourselves. I just wonder why it was not already designed into the payment processing system that Givewell uses to make it more desirable to donors, which I assume they would be incentivized to do to save on card processing fees.

    Thank you for your time and take care.

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on March 29, 2021 at 6:27 pm said:

    Hi Eddy,

    Thanks for your questions!

    1. We’re committed to providing counterfactual matching opportunities to our donors, to the best of our ability (we’ve written about this here). What that means is that we only want to promote matches where we’re confident the matching donor would not have otherwise given. We feel most confident in offering counterfactual matches through our own network, which is why we’ve focused on GiveWell matches for the time being. We may do more with our top charities going forward, but we haven’t prioritized this as a first step.

    2. We offered a $250 match for first-time donors who heard about us through podcast ads during the 2020 year-end giving season. Because donors had to indicate which podcast they heard about us on in order to be eligible for the match, the incentive helped us get better information about which podcasts were successful for us. The match seemed to have incentivized some listeners to donate, although it’s difficult to say what proportion of them wouldn’t have donated counterfactually (if we had just advertised and not offered a match). The match did seem to influence the sizes of donations to some extent. We saw some different trends in donation sizes between 2019 (when the matching amount was $1k) and 2020 (when the matching amount was $250), suggesting that the match amount was a strong motivator (when we offered $250 matches, we saw more $250 donations; when we offered $1k matches, we saw more $1k donations).

    3. Thanks for letting us know about your preference to donate directly via bank transfer through our website. We haven’t heard much demand for this option from our donors and so this isn’t something we’ve considered adding. It’s helpful to know that this is something you’d be interested in!

  • Vasco Grilo on March 31, 2021 at 8:31 am said:

    Good afternoon,
    I am interested to know your thoughts on World Food Program’s ShareTheMeal App (
    Kind regards,

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on March 31, 2021 at 9:52 am said:

    Hi Vasco,

    Thanks for your question!

    Rather than trying to rate as many organizations as possible, we focus on finding and recommending a small number of outstanding giving opportunities to help donors save or improve lives the most with their gifts.

    We look for organizations that are evidence-backed, cost-effective, transparent, and underfunded. You can learn more about what we look for on our criteria page.

    Though we consider many organizations as we search for outstanding giving opportunities, we do not aim to rate or review each of them, so unfortunately we generally cannot answer questions about specific opportunities, such as World Food Program’s ShareTheMeal App, that are not on our list of recommended organizations.

    You can learn more about what we do on this page and in our FAQ. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

  • John f Smith on April 1, 2021 at 4:20 am said:

    Hi my name is John Smith I’m 57 years old I’m from Summerville Georgia I live in a mobile home where I rent the past winter I went without any heat my landlord after asking him on many occasions to install heaters in my mobile home refuse to do so and only told me to go to Walmart and buy me a portable heater and his wife Tara Wilson text me and told me to have my case manager from Lookout Mountain community service go buy me a portable heater instead of them putting one in meaning my landlord so what I would do is take the mattress for my bed and put on the floor in front of the stove and turn the stove on my dog and I would sleep their front of the stove keep warm at night during the day I wear my winter coat and make sure my dog was covered up pretty good he’s 14 years old I was trying to find a place to move to get away from this place but financially it was hard for me to do so and then what’s this virus going on not too many people wanted to rent. That’s not only problem around just trailer there’s several problems which I had to dress the landlord with and we never fixed after living in the cold like I did and he didn’t care my landlord Jackie Wilson I decided I would call the building inspector and have him come in during inspection inside and outside Allen mobile home which I invited him to do so. He found multiple code violations he told me that he probably wouldn’t need to condemn this trailer and wrote on the paper that he gave me it’s unlivable for human to be in here and living at this time building inspector has made numerous attempts to schedule times for my landlord to meet him here at my residence to talk to him and go over the code violations and where they were my landlord keeps making excuses whether he forgot that day or his wife’s in the hospital. I have a floor that’s leaning to one side light fixtures falling I couldn’t take a shower at all because the bathroom and that back here it was too cold so I do find myself to the front area to one room and take a bath in the sink in the the kitchen and wash up like right there. My landlord change the lease also I’m raise my rent and also made me responsible for any repair of any appliances that would happen I’ve checked with other renters of his and their lease does not say the same thing I feel that this landlord knowing that I’m a homosexual and a white man is prejudiced against me I never seen the landlord but maybe two times and that’s been from a distance I think he thinks that being gay and white rugs off cuz he won’t get very close to me at all he stands probably a house away from me talkin to me they’ll knock on the door and they’ll run to the driveway here’s my hand to God I seen it. I’m trying to take legal resources and do a civil lawsuit against the landlord for not having heat from me and my law he should have done that being prejudiced against me being homosexual because he has asked me questions about my sexual orientation before and me being on disability and have a handicap knowing this and he still did not put heat in here that’s absolutely disgusting that he would let somebody live like that and collects rent he calls himself a minister that’s not a church I would want to go to. So I’m out looking for places to live and what is my illness I’ve had two heart attacks I have post-traumatic stress syndrome from a home invasion where ice pistol whipped and beaten that occurred in Columbus Ohio severe depression HIV positive and I’m currently and congestive heart failure there’s anything that you can assist me with and help me wish I would appreciate it so very much how to hear from you very soon thank you John Smith

  • Selon Nerias on April 1, 2021 at 2:25 pm said:

    Is the content of the monthly update shared publicly anywhere? It’d make it easier to share them on social media, though I understand there’s a tradeoff between that and keeping them exclusive to make signing up for the email newsletter more appealing.

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on April 5, 2021 at 7:07 pm said:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for getting in touch with GiveWell. Unfortunately, we do not provide this type of support.

    I’m sorry not to be more helpful and we send you our best wishes during this difficult time.

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on April 5, 2021 at 7:08 pm said:

    Hi Selon,

    We don’t currently publish the newsletters on our website or via social media, but we’re considering doing so going forward, which will make them easier to share. Thanks for letting us know that you’d prefer this option!

  • David Nash on April 16, 2021 at 5:32 am said:

    I would second the comment by Selon. I would like to share the monthly update on why malaria is still being funded as I think it gives a good response to a question people do ask.

    At the moment the only way I can see of sharing that is via copy and pasting it, there isn’t a ‘view in browser’ option on the email.

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