Every month we send an email newsletter to our supporters sharing recent updates from our work. We publish selected portions of the newsletter on our blog to make this news more accessible to people who visit our website. For key updates from the latest installment, please see below!
The GiveWell Blog
To celebrate the end of 2023, we’re highlighting a few key things to know about GiveWell—from A to Z. These aren’t necessarily the 26 most important parts of our work (e.g., we could include only “transparency” or “top charities” for T) but they do fit the alphabet, and we’ve linked to other pages where you can learn more.
Bar. We set a cost-effectiveness bar, or threshold, such that we expect to be able to fully fund all the opportunities above that level of cost-effectiveness. This bar isn’t a hard limit; we consider qualitative factors in our recommendations, as discussed here. This post also discusses our bar in more detail.
Cost-effectiveness. The core question we try to answer in our research is: How much good can you do by giving money to a certain program? This blog post describes how we approach cost-effectiveness estimates and use them in our work.
Donors. Unlike a foundation, we don’t hold an endowment. Our impact comes from donors choosing to use our recommendations.
In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available and analyzed, GiveWell raised the largest amount of money in our history, over $600 million. We thank our donors for continuing to trust us to find and recommend highly cost-effective giving opportunities. The following table summarizes our funds raised and our funds directed to programs in metrics year 2021 and 2022.
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. Staff are listed alphabetically by first name.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
This post is the third in a multi-part series, covering how GiveWell works and what we fund. Through these posts, we hope to give a better understanding of our research and decision-making.
- How we work, #1: Cost-effectiveness is generally the most important factor in our recommendations
- How we work, #2: We look at specific opportunities, not just general interventions
Our goal is to recommend funding to the programs we believe have the greatest impact per dollar donated. There’s no simple algorithm for this question. Answering it necessarily involves making judgment calls. Our first post in this series discussed the importance of cost-effectiveness analyses and the many factors we consider; in this post, we’ll share:
- How we make subjective choices in the face of imperfect information
- Some examples of judgment calls that illustrate our approach:
- Combining data and intuition: Estimating the effect of water chlorination on mortality
- Valuing disparate outcomes: Comparing clubfoot treatment to life-saving programs
- Anticipating the likely decisions of other actors: Predicting the impact of technical assistance for syphilis screening and treatment