The GiveWell Blog

September 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.


  • I have a question about the Content Editor job posting – under “Visas”, it says “we’re currently not accepting applications from candidates who need authorization to work in the U.S.”

    Does this exclude people without visas entirely, or is international remote work a possibility for this position?

  • Hi Give Well. I read the Bangladesh mask study you funded and read the summery of your reasons for funding the study. The reasons are good and you motivation to fund the study is great as I expect from you all. My questions is why did the study get framed as a pro mask when the data showed no statistically significant reduction in infections with increased mask use? It is another randomized trial that shows no benefit for mask use along with every other RCT to date. I thought you would do an honest assessment of the data. Thanks

  • Catherine (GiveWell) on September 20, 2021 at 5:30 pm said:

    Hi Luke,

    Thanks for your question! We are the funders of the study, but the analysis is the authors’, so they are better positioned to speak to the findings and interpretation. It sounds like you have seen our page on why we funded the study, but just in case—additional information is here!

  • Maggie (GiveWell) on September 21, 2021 at 3:40 pm said:

    Hi Ell,

    Thank you for your question!

    International remote work is possible for the Content Editor position, but we are only able to accept applications from applicants with U.S. work authorization. This includes applicants working from outside of the United States.

    On a related note, it’s important to note that GiveWell has a strong preference for staff to work within 3 hours of Pacific Time Zone when working remotely.

  • Iain Elliot on October 3, 2021 at 1:47 am said:


    You often post news about open full time positions. Do you see ways that part time (international – I live in Germany) volunteers could help?



  • Maggie (GiveWell) on October 6, 2021 at 1:00 pm said:

    Hi Iain,
    Thanks for your interest in supporting our work. Unfortunately, we’re not currently seeking volunteer support, but we appreciate you reaching out!

  • Hello,

    I read through the report on HKI Vitamin A supplementation. It looks like a very promising cause. I was surprised to not see a discussion of reduced morbidity as part of the analysis. In particular, reduced blindness, since both HKI and UNICEF state that Vitamin A deficiency is the #1 cause of preventable childhood blindness. Can you help me understand when and why this information is or is not included in GiveWell analysis? If there is information on the morbidity reduction of this intervention I would love to see it.


  • Maggie (GiveWell) on October 22, 2021 at 2:35 pm said:

    Hi Tyner,

    Thanks for your question!

    While we’re aware of the connection between vitamin A deficiency and blindness, we don’t explicitly model the effects of vitamin A supplementation on preventing vision loss and blindness in our cost-effectiveness analysis because we expect these benefits to be small relative to the intervention’s core benefits (reducing mortality). We do make a small adjustment in our CEA (row 99) to account for the fact that we don’t explicitly model vision impact in our core CEA.

    As explained in our CEA:

    We only explicitly model some of the possible effects of each top charity’s program. Many other potential impacts of each program are excluded to keep the core models tractable. On this sheet, we include rough guesses on how much each excluded effect would change our overall cost-effectiveness estimates if it were explicitly modeled . We also rank each effect according to three criteria . We use these rankings to create a weighted best guess of the impact of each effect on cost-effectiveness. We apply these adjustments in the “Adjustments for effects excluded from our core model” section of each top charity sheet.

    We go into more depth on this issue here. In summary, we don’t think that the vision benefits ascribed to Vitamin A supplementation change the program’s cost-effectiveness very much.

    We are happy to share more if you have any follow up questions!

  • Hi,

    I’ve had a very brief look at your room for funding in this spreadsheet:
    It appears as though most of the top charities can no longer absorb significant funding (putting GiveDirectly and New Incentives aside). Does this mean that on the margin, it is no longer worth donating to e.g AMF, if one wanted to have impact right now? Or if the impact is lower than if there was room for funding, then how much lower is it?

  • Maggie (GiveWell) on November 16, 2021 at 11:46 am said:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your question!

    We realize this sheet is misleading. It wasn’t intended to show all the grants we expected to recommend in the next year, only those we knew the most about at the time we published that spreadsheet.

    We have realized that this sheet is sending a confusing message, and we aren’t going to include it in this form in the next version of the CEA that we publish. We expect to share updated information about room for more funding by the end of November.

    We typically fund programs a few years out— you can read more about this in our blog post: Why we’re excited to fund charities’ work a few years in the future.

    We expect that we’ll soon share funding opportunities at AMF in 2024, and that those opportunities will continue to be very cost-effective. In practice, if you give to AMF our best guess is that AMF will plan to use your donation in the future to fill a gap that is of similar cost-effectiveness as the net distributions AMF has funded in the past.

    Your literal dollars will have an impact there. But if donors using GiveWell’s research direct enough funding to totally fill those specific funding gaps at AMF (and we expect to), the true impact of your donation will be the marginal dollar that GiveWell grants to another organization because of your donation to AMF. We don’t know how cost-effective it will be — that will fluctuate based on how much we raise and the opportunities we identify — but we maintain a high bar for cost-effectiveness, and it will go to the most cost-effective opportunities we can find. Note that the timeline of impact won’t be immediate, given that we’re funding at least a couple years out.


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