The GiveWell Blog

GiveWell’s 2021 metrics report

In 2021, GiveWell directed the largest amount of money in our history, over $500 million, which we believe will be beneficial or life saving to many people in need. We thank our donors for continuing to trust us to find and recommend some of the most highly cost-effective giving opportunities in the world.

Note that this year, we’ve also updated our metrics report to more clearly communicate about our work. Previously, we reported on our “money moved,” a metric that tried to provide a composite picture of both the funds we raised and directed in a given year. However, starting with our 2021 report, we’ll be reporting on these metrics separately as “funds raised” and “funds directed,” which we believe will be simpler and clearer.

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An update on GiveWell’s funding projections

As little as six months ago, we were in the position of having more funding available than we could spend on opportunities that met our very high cost-effectiveness bar. Today, the opposite is true—we don’t expect to have enough funding to support all the cost-effective opportunities we find.

In this post we will: provide an update on GiveWell’s projected funding position, explain how we have been successful in identifying cost-effective opportunities, and share our initial thoughts about what this update means for GiveWell’s forward-looking grantmaking strategy.

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Our recommendations for giving in 2021

You can have a remarkable impact by supporting cost-effective, evidence-based charities.

Just looking at the approximately $100 million GiveWell had discretion to grant in 2020—a subset of all the money we directed to the charities we recommend—the impact of our donors is impressive. We estimate these grants will:

  • Save more than 24,000 lives
  • Treat over 6 million children with a full course of antimalarial medication
  • Provide vitamin A supplementation to over 8.6 million children
  • Deliver over 4.4 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to protect against malaria
  • Vaccinate 118,000 children
  • Treat over 11.4 million children for parasitic worms

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We aim to cost-effectively direct around $1 billion annually by 2025

A little over a decade ago in 2010, GiveWell directed around $1.5 million to the charities we recommended. In 2021, we expect we’ll raise at least $500 million, and may raise as much as $560 million or more.

We never anticipated that we’d grow this large this quickly. We’ve seen rapid growth from donors of all sizes, the most recent of which is a commitment of $300 million from Open Philanthropy.

While this growth comes with challenges—we’re working hard to hire enough researchers—it’s a testament to our donors’ trust in us and enthusiasm for our mission.

But these big numbers are relatively small in the long-term scope of what GiveWell hopes to achieve. We believe there are billions of dollars’ worth of annual cost-effective giving opportunities that we have yet to identify.

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GiveWell’s money moved in 2020

2020 was another year of tremendous growth. GiveWell donors contributed over $240 million to our recommended charities (our “2020 money moved”), a 60% increase from the approximately $150 million we directed in 2019. This is part of an exciting, long-term trend. Just a decade ago, in 2010, GiveWell’s total money moved was $1.5 million.

We believe these donations will save tens of thousands of lives and benefit many others. This incredible impact would not be possible without the continued support and generosity of our donors. While our research enables us to identify and recommend highly cost-effective giving opportunities, our donors are responsible for turning those recommendations into real change for some of the poorest individuals in the world.

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Early signs show that you gave more in 2020 than 2019—thank you!

Our donor community appears to have given significantly more in 2020 than 2019, according to early data on donations we processed.

Growth was strong relative to previous years—even 2019, which also had strong growth—and across many different dimensions. Overall, donations to GiveWell more than doubled in 2020.

We estimate that these donations will collectively save more than 12,000 lives; provide over 2 million deworming treatments to children, leading to an approximate increase in that group’s lifetime earnings of more than $21 million; and deliver almost 3,000 cash transfers to low-income households. For simplicity, the impact estimates in this paragraph exclude some donation types, and so don’t represent the full impact of donations to GiveWell in 2020.[1]

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