The GiveWell Blog

An essential question that no one is asking charities

If a charity demonstrates that its core program has changed lives in the past, is likely to change lives in the future, and gets great “bang for your buck,” is this enough reason to donate to it? We say no. The missing piece: Will more funding lead to more of the good program(s)? We generally…

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Denying the choice

GiveWell spends a lot of time on the question, “Should I give to charity A or charity B?” One of the things that has surprised us about the world of charity is how many people insist on answering, “Both” or “You can’t/shouldn’t be asking that question.” To them, all that matters is whether a charity…

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Chess in the Schools

The New York Times recently profiled Chess in the Schools: The Chess-in-the-Schools program has sought to foster analytical skills on the theory that these will help students succeed academically. The group teaches 20,000 children a year and calculates that it has taught 425,000 children since 1986. Children gather to learn the game at the group’s…

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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 ……

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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…

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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…

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