For this post, a number of GiveWell staff members volunteered to share the thinking behind their personal donations for the year. We’ve published similar posts in previous years.1See our staff giving posts from 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. Staff are listed alphabetically by first name.
You can click the below links to jump to a staff member’s entry:
- Andrew Martin
- Audrey Cooper
- Elie Hassenfeld
- Erin Crossett
- Isabel Arjmand
- Jeremy Rehwaldt
- Kameron Smith
- Lauren Imholte
- Maggie Lloydhauser
- Natalie Crispin
- Natalie Kanter
- Olivia Larsen
- Roman Guglielmo
- Steph Stojanovic
- Teryn Mattox
I continue to be impressed by the care and thoughtfulness I see from my colleagues in making grant allocation decisions. Seeing and participating in this work informs my decision to give all of my donation this year to the All Grants Fund. In addition to GiveWell’s Top Charities, I’m excited to be able to support other highly cost-effective programs through the All Grants Fund, as highlighted in this blog post.
We plan to donate to GiveWell’s Top Charities Fund again this year. Each of the top charity programs has substantial funding needs, such that they could reach more people and save more lives if they receive more donations. I’m excited to help these programs close the gap.
We also plan to continue our support of the International Refugee Assistance Project and criminal justice organizations. Throughout the year, we also make smaller donations to local causes (such as services for people experiencing homelessness, community gardens, etc.) as well as gifts in honor of friends to their charities of choice.
This year, my family is planning to give 80% of our annual donation to GiveWell’s All Grants Funds and 20% to GiveDirectly.
We’re giving to GiveWell’s All Grants Fund because it gives GiveWell the most flexibility to direct funds where we (GiveWell staff) think they will do the most good. This may mean supporting programs at Top Charities, but it could mean funding newer organizations, research, or more speculative opportunities that are high (expected) impact.
Our decision to give to GiveDirectly is less straightforward. Based on GiveWell’s cost-effectiveness models, the funds my family is giving to GiveDirectly would do more good if given elsewhere (roughly speaking, GiveWell’s best estimate is that funds to top charities and the All Grants Fund do about ten times as much good in expectation).
We’re giving 20% to GiveDirectly for two reasons:
- When I talk to people who aren’t already familiar with GiveWell’s work, I often reference GiveDirectly. Many people aren’t aware of the vast income disparities between high-income and low-income countries. I talk about GiveDirectly because (a) it’s very simple and easy to explain and (b) years ago, I visited GiveDirectly’s program in Kenya, so I’m able to speak personally and specifically about people who benefited from GiveDirectly’s work.
For example, I often tell people about a specific family I met who received ~$1,000 from GiveDirectly. Like many other families, they chose to use part of their cash transfer to replace their thatched roof with a metal one. Before receiving these funds, when it rained in the middle of the night, the family (if I recall correctly, a mother and two children) would have to move out to a neighbor’s house that was ~60 feet away to stay dry. They’d come back the next day to find their belongings soaked.
Or, when I talk to people with an interest in evaluation, I tell them that, when I visited Kenya, GiveDirectly enabled me to randomly select households to visit. On any site visit, donors should expect that organizations are aiming to shape a compelling narrative of their impact, so I loved that GiveDirectly helped me see a more representative picture of their work.
These types of anecdotes aren’t GiveWell’s standard style of communication, but they’re helpful in connecting with people who haven’t thought much about global poverty. I’m grateful to GiveDirectly for giving me the opportunity to connect with donors in this concrete way and for their commitment to transparency. I want to support their work with my personal giving because of it.
- I also like the idea of doing some giving in a very straightforward way—one that relies on fewer debatable judgment calls. GiveDirectly’s program is exceptionally simple and direct: it lets individuals choose what they most want. While it may not do as much good as a gift to GiveWell’s Top Charities or All Grants Fund, I am very confident that it does a huge amount of good.
So, the workable compromise we reached this year is to give the vast majority of our donation to the All Grants Fund, while giving some to GiveDirectly as well.
The majority of my year-end giving will go to—you guessed it!—GiveWell’s All Grants Fund. The research team has identified highly cost-effective giving opportunities to organizations that have been rigorously shown to save human lives, reduce suffering, and improve well-being. Given this year’s market tumult, GiveWell anticipates having more giving opportunities than funds available and I’m eager to narrow that gap with my own money.
The remaining funds will be split between non-profit investigative journalism organizations like ProPublica and the Marshall Project (which serve as key checks on our public and private institutions), a local affordable housing non-profit (more housing is good), and GiveDirectly (it’s hard to be the bar!).
I’m grateful to be in a position to make relatively small sacrifices that can have meaningful impacts on the lives of others. My general thinking around giving is similar to what I wrote last year and in previous years.
- GiveWell. I’ll be making 50% of my annual donation to GiveWell’s Top Charities Fund this year. As an individual donor I prefer to give to the Top Charities Fund, even though I think that for GiveWell as an institution, it’s extremely valuable to support the wider range of programs covered by the All Grants Fund. With the Top Charities Fund, I know that my donation will go to one of the four outstanding programs we have the most confidence in, and I can clearly see that my donation has a life-saving impact, in expectation.
- Farm animal welfare. 40% of my giving will go to organizations working to improve the welfare of farmed animals. I’m not as confident in the impact of this portion of my giving as I am in the impact of my donation to GiveWell. But I want to support some work in this space because I think it’s awful that humans brutally torture, abuse, and maim animals for food and I think organizations like these are making a difference. I’m not a perfect supporter of animal welfare—I’m not a vegan!—but I can still contribute with my donations.
Within farm animal welfare, I expect to give to Faunalytics, The Humane League, the Fish Welfare Initiative, and Shrimp Welfare Project. I think farm animal welfare is extremely neglected relative to how important it is, and fish welfare probably especially so. Honestly, I don’t know much about the extent to which shrimp can suffer, but it seems plausible to me that they can, and I don’t want to dismiss the idea of caring about shrimp just because it might sound strange to some people.
I expect my donations are largely fungible with Open Philanthropy’s farm animal welfare program or the Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Fund. I’m fine with that—I think those programs do great work! And I like the feeling of being connected to the specific organizations I’m giving to.
- Other causes. I’ll use the remaining 10% of my giving to support a handful of other causes I think are important, mostly around migration (International Refugee Assistance Project, Malengo) and other international development causes (e.g. D-Prize, GiveDirectly). My interest in these areas is the same as in previous years.
Each year I give a percentage of my annual income to nonprofit organizations. My giving for 2022 is divided approximately evenly into three categories:
- GiveWell’s All Grants Fund. One-third of my giving follows GiveWell’s recommendation of donating to the All Grants Fund (I recently switched my allocation to the All Grants Fund from the Top Charities Fund). I am very confident in GiveWell’s research and grant recommendations, and I know that my donation—and my everyday work—will have a meaningful impact.
- Advocacy organizations aimed at systemic change (through Grassroots International and the Southern Power Fund, both of which regrant my donations to grassroots organizations seeking transformational change, many led by women of color). I believe that human beings are more likely to flourish when they have agency over their lives, that centering the perspective of those whose voices are likely to be overlooked is important, and that many social problems cannot be solved without changing structures. It also feels valuable to me, as a person with many forms of privilege, to take steps toward sharing the power I have; this is one very small step I can take.
- Organizations working to mitigate climate change (including Rainforest Foundation US, which partners with indigenous people to protect rainforests, including through RCT-studied forest monitoring). I am concerned about the likelihood of increasingly severe and long-lasting harm from climate change, especially on the most vulnerable populations, and believe that taking action now is essential.
The large majority of my annual giving this year went to GiveWell (to the Top Charities Fund for much of the year, and then to the new All Grants Fund once it became available). I give through GiveWell because my moral leanings are fairly well aligned with GiveWell’s and because I believe that collectively the organization can make a better decision about where my money can accomplish the most good than I would be able to on my own (even with GiveWell’s research at my disposal).
The remainder of my giving (about 15%) goes to climate change/conservation, racial justice, and political causes. This portion of my giving is based more on my own personal intuition about causes that are largely beyond the scope of GiveWell’s current work but which I think are important and can accomplish a great deal of good in ways that may be difficult to quantify with a GiveWell-style model.
As a new GiveWell employee this year, I’m also excited to be a first-time GiveWell donor! It hasn’t taken long to convince us—my family will be directing most of our giving to GiveWell’s All Grants Fund. Also, we recently moved to a new state and find meaning in supporting local, sustainable food systems. We plan to direct the rest of our gifts to the Food Systems Team within our state’s 350 chapter and our local “Friends of the Market” fund to support farmers in our region.
My husband and I first began giving a percentage of our income after an influential conversation with a friend who had recently taken the Giving What We Can Pledge. That conversation helped me really rethink how much I could afford to give, and has shaped my relationship to giving. We have not taken the pledge, but may do so in the future once we’re certain that we can permanently uphold the commitment.
This year, we struggled with the decision of whether to maintain that percentage. 2023 will be a year of large expenses for us (we’re expecting a second child and will be purchasing our home) and this year more than perhaps any other, we could justify stepping back from giving. In my role at GiveWell, though, I spend much of my time speaking to donors who give generously to the programs we recommend. I’m inspired by the consistency with which so many of our donors give, and by the truly remarkable work accomplished by GiveWell’s recommended charities.
This year, we’ll be maintaining our donation level with the largest portion of our giving going to GiveWell’s All Grants Fund. I’m excited that for the first time, the full scope of GiveWell’s grant-making is accessible to donors at all levels.
We will also be making much smaller donations to organizations that benefit our local community, including: the local library where our son plays several times a week, the local land conservancy to which we owe a lot of the public access to nature we enjoy, and the civil rights advocacy group where I previously worked.
A rather boring answer: My family and I will be giving to GiveWell’s All Grants Fund.
I’d potentially be interested in giving to support animal welfare and pandemic preparedness and perhaps some other causes as well, but I haven’t found the time to look into where to give effectively and in-line with our values in those areas, or to determine a reasonable split of funds among causes. So we’re going with the simplest option for us, where we’re confident our donation will be put to good use.
This year I will be donating 75% of my annual giving to GiveWell’s All Grants Fund, and the other 25% to organizations working towards the equitable (re)distribution of wealth, land, and power.
I feel grateful to be a part of an organization that encourages donors and staff members alike to have conversations about personal giving. This is the first year I’ll be taking a more principled approach to my personal giving (versus ad-hoc donations throughout the year), and I look forward to carrying on the energy behind these conversations with my family and friends!
I donate 10% of my income to charity, and I’m excited to allocate that to GiveWell’s All Grants Fund this year! I want to give my colleagues on the research team flexibility to use my donation to support either our Top Charities, or any program we see that meets our high bar for grantmaking.
With all the time that GiveWell spends in the weeds of charity analysis and discussing intangible bars for grantmaking, it can sometimes be easy for me to intellectualize the work that GiveWell and our Top Charities do. But when making my personal giving decision, I often remember how astonishing it is that a donation that feels like a relatively small sacrifice for me can save the lives of children I will, in all likelihood, never meet. It’s an incredible opportunity, and I’m grateful to our research team for identifying these important funding gaps.
I also gave a few smaller donations that I don’t count toward my 10%, most notably to the charity my mom helped run for many years, which focuses on helping children in my hometown of Tucson, AZ.
Around this time last year was the first time I donated any significant amount (for me) to charity. In my contribution to last year’s post, I said I hoped to work toward giving at least 5% of my income to people or projects that need it more than I do. I’m proud to say that, in 2022, I’ve been able to donate on a consistent basis, and that I currently commit to donating 5% of my pre-tax income each quarter.
Although I know it’s somewhat mis-aligned with the spirit of giving season, I plan to make my next quarterly donation in January, and I’ll likely divide it evenly between a few different organizations and funds. I often choose to support funds, like the Climate Change Fund at Founders Pledge, or one of GiveWell’s discretionary funds, rather than donating directly to the organizations that will ultimately realize the impact. Because funds like these are allocated based on continuous research by the organizations that manage them, I think this gives my donations the best chance to be used most cost-effectively.
Next month, I plan to support GiveWell’s unrestricted fund, the Giving Green Fund via Giving What We Can, and The Humane League. I’ve chosen to aim my donations at these particular causes—global health, climate change, and farm animal welfare—not because of any careful calculus I’ve done myself (I leave that to my colleagues at GiveWell), but because I believe they are some of the most important, urgent, and hopefully solvable global problems. Fortunately, there are excellent and trustworthy organizations working on them—offering the opportunity for a donation to make a real difference.
I was a GiveWell donor before I started working here and my confidence in our research has only increased each year I remain on staff. We’ll be giving 100% of our giving to the All Grants Fund because the ~20 brains on the research team will make better decisions on how to allocate funds than we will! We’ll be making a smaller contribution this year from money we already have in our donor advised fund. We’re expecting to make a larger gift next year so will “bunch” charitable giving into 2023—we don’t think it makes a huge difference on the impact of our gift if we wait 6-12 months to give more.
I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to make the world a better place through both my day-to-day work and my charitable giving. I am so proud of and excited by the work we do at GiveWell, and I think the All Grants Fund is one of the best ways donors can save and improve human lives with their money.
My family also strongly weighs the welfare of animals in the moral calculus that drives our giving. Since I joined GiveWell, we’ve transitioned all of our significant giving to organizations promoting (largely farmed) animal welfare. I feel comfortable with this allocation given the amount of time and energy I devote in my day to day work to furthering GiveWell’s work improving the lives of the global poor.
The reason we feel compelled to do this is based on the intensity of the suffering inflicted upon farmed animals, the staggering numbers of factory-farmed animals alive at any given moment, the potential impact of our donations in reducing this suffering, and our beliefs about the importance of animal suffering. We give to a variety of organizations including the Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Fund, the Humane League, and other assorted organizations supported by the Animal Welfare Fund or Animal Charity Evaluators.
We also have a number of small, recurring monthly donations that we don’t consider part of our core giving, but are more like extra “fun money” we spend to support our local community in Oregon.