The GiveWell Blog

What we fund, #1: We fund many opportunities outside our top charities

GiveWell aims to find and fund programs that have the greatest impact on global well-being. We’re open to funding whichever global health and development opportunities seem most cost-effective. So while our top charities list is still what we’re best known for, it’s only part of our impact; we also dedicate substantial funding and research effort to opportunities beyond top charities.

In 2022, 71% of the funds we directed supported our four current top charities, and 29% were directed to other programs. However, most of our research capacity goes toward programs other than our top charities. This is because (a) most programs we direct funding to aren’t top charities (we have four top charities but directed funding to about 40 other grantees in 2022), and (b) it requires more effort to investigate a program we know less deeply.

In this post we’ll share:

  • The overall scope of our grantmaking
  • Why we dedicate funding and research capacity to programs other than our top charities
  • The types of opportunities we support

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GiveWell’s 2023 recommendations to donors

We’re excited about the impact donors can have by supporting our All Grants Fund and our Top Charities Fund. For donors who want to support the programs we’re most confident in, we recommend the Top Charities Fund, which is allocated among our four top charities. For donors with a higher degree of trust in GiveWell and willingness to take on more risk, our top recommendation is the All Grants Fund, which goes to a wider range of opportunities and may have higher impact per dollar. Read more about the options for giving below. We estimate that donations to the programs we recommend can save a life for roughly $5,000 on average, or have similarly strong impact by increasing incomes or preventing suffering.

Why your support matters

We expect to find more outstanding giving opportunities than we can fully fund unless our community of supporters substantially increases its giving. Figures like $5,000 per life saved are rough estimates; while we spend thousands of hours on our cost-effectiveness analyses, they’re still inherently uncertain. But the bottom line is that we think donors have the opportunity to do a huge amount of good by supporting the programs we recommend.

For a concrete sense of what a donation can do, let’s focus briefly on seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), which involves distributing preventive medication to young children.

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Our recommendations for giving in 2022

We wrote back in July that we expected to be funding-constrained this year. That remains true as we approach the end of the year, putting us in the unusual position of leaving impact on the table.

We’ve set a goal of raising $600 million in 2022, but our research team has identified $900 million in highly cost-effective funding gaps. That leaves $300 million in funding gaps unfilled. By donating this year, you can help us not only meet but exceed our goal—and say yes to more excellent opportunities to save and improve lives.

Additionally, our giving guidance for donors has changed this year. For the first time, our top recommendation is to give to our new All Grants Fund, which we allocate to any need that meets our cost-effectiveness bar. We think it’s the best bet for donors who want to support the most promising opportunities we’ve found to help people, regardless of program or location. And it reflects our current views on how we can best meet our goal of maximizing global well-being—by taking advantage of every path to impact, whether that’s funding top charities, seeding and scaling newer programs, or funding research.

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