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

Too much attention on the giver’s experience; not enough on the recipient’s

From the recent discussion on Tactical Philanthropy: As philanthropists/donors/funders, we spend so much time thinking about how to maximize social benefit through our activities, that often we lose sight of the personal benefits that we experience from these endeavors. We disagree. Consider the current state of the nonprofit sector. We have practically no information about… Read More

How would a malaria vaccine affect charity?

What happens if a malaria vaccine becomes available – and is far more effective than medicine and perhaps insecticide-treated nets? I hope that all malaria charities will transition, as smoothly as they can, to assisting with immunization programs. But I’m not sure. Immunization-focused charities include the GAVI Alliance, the Measles Initiative and VillageReach. Malaria-focused charities… Read More

Why can’t you make the sale?

I recently attended a seminar with the fascinating Seth Godin and heard an interesting anecdote about VisionSpring: I could see that every single person who came to this meeting had enough money [$3] … to buy a pair of new reading glasses. And I could tell from how old they were that they were qualified… Read More

Are charities helping? We don’t know

In a recent debate, David Hunter’s article on the nonprofit sector has taken heat for its assertion that “While nonprofits work incredibly hard, with passion and dedication, and often in incredibly difficult circumstances to solve society’s most intractable problems, there is virtually no credible evidence that most nonprofit organizations actually produce any social value.” We… Read More

“A” for effort?

Sean at Tactical Philanthropy has continued his discussion of “high-performing” vs. “high-impact” organizations, which we previously commented on. The message he is sending (see posts here and here) is partly that we need to take the emphasis off of “funding organizations that have shown results” and put it on “funding organizations that seem ‘on the… Read More