The GiveWell Blog

Medicine and philanthropy

David Leonhardt’s excellent piece on health care reminded me of the debates within philanthropy. For most of human history … [doctors’] treatments consisted of inducing vomiting or diarrhea and, most common of all, bleeding their patients … Yet patients continued to go to doctors, and many continued to put great in faith in medicine …… Read More

Evaluating microfinance charities

When we think about microfinance, we don’t ask “which person” or “which story” to fund; we think about which organization to fund. As explained at our discussion of microfinance myths, we don’t think the traditional story donors are told is accurate. We do think microfinance could be helping people in other ways – or hurting… Read More

High-impact nonprofits are rare, but worth funding

Following up on Thursday’s Alliance for Effective Social Investing meeting, Sean at Tactical Philanthropy writes: A high performance nonprofit is a very well run organization. It has outstanding leadership, clear goals, an ethic of monitoring performance and making adjustments as needed, and it is financially healthy. A high impact nonprofit is one whose efforts have… Read More

Two worlds

Why are people so excited about one study of one charter school showing improved performance on math tests? (Our coverage of the study here). It’s because in academic circles, improving academic performance is seen as an extremely thorny problem with a very long list of past failures. (See pages 1-2 of the paper for an… Read More

Small, unproven charities

Imagine that someone came to you with an idea for a startup business and offered you a chance to invest in it. Which of the following would you require before taking the plunge? Familiarity with (or at least a lot of information about) the people behind the project Very strong knowledge of the project’s “space”… Read More

The most important problem may not be the best charitable cause

I recently ran across a charity called Project AK-47 that declares: Over 100,000 kids are carrying machine guns in the armies of Southeast Asia. Instead of walking to school, they march to war. Instead of playing, they train to kill. If we don’t intervene, most of these children will be soldiers for at least 7… Read More