The GiveWell Blog

Allocation of discretionary funds from Q4 2019

We recently allocated donations made from October through December 2019 to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion.” We granted $11.9 million to Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program and $1.5 million to Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program.

We allocate donations to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion” (discretionary funds) quarterly, according to where we see the highest-priority funding needs. Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program and Helen Keller International (HKI)’s vitamin A supplementation (VAS) program had the top-priority needs among our top charities at the time we made this decision.

Malaria Consortium provides preventive anti-malarial medication to young children during the time of year when malaria transmission is highest. HKI supports provision of vitamin A supplements to young children, which reduces their risk of dying of infectious disease.[1] We estimate that the combined discretionary grants to these organizations will save 5,600 lives.[2]

In this post, we discuss:

  • Our process for deciding where to allocate discretionary funds. (More)
    • We share updates on:
      • HKI’s VAS program. (More)
      • Malaria Consortium’s SMC program. (More)
      • SCI Foundation. (More)
    • We also discuss uncertainties in our decision. (More)
  • Our bottom line for donors giving today. (More)

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Allocation of discretionary funds from Q3 2019

In the third quarter of 2019, donors gave a combined $2.6 million to GiveWell for granting to recommended charities at our discretion. We greatly appreciate this support, which enables us to direct funding where we believe it can be used most impactfully. We grant this funding to one or more of our top charities each quarter.

We decided to allocate all $2.6 million to Helen Keller International’s (HKI) vitamin A supplementation (VAS) program. HKI is a GiveWell top charity that supports provision of vitamin A supplements to young children, reducing their likelihood of dying from infectious disease. It does so by providing technical assistance, engaging in advocacy, and contributing funding to government-run VAS programs in sub-Saharan Africa. We based our decision on our estimate of the high cost-effectiveness of the work HKI expects to conduct with this funding.

We provide an updated recommendation for donors below.

Summary

In this post, we discuss:

  • what HKI will do with this funding. (More)
  • our process for deciding where to allocate funds. (More)
  • our bottom line for donors giving today. (More)

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Announcing our 2019 top charities

We’re excited to announce our top charities for 2019. After thousands of hours of vetting and review, eight charities stood out as excellent.

These charities work on evidence-backed and impactful health and poverty alleviation programs serving people in the poorest parts of the world. We’ve identified specific opportunities for our top charities to use an additional $75 million in donations to save 33,000 lives, $30 million to treat 36 million children for parasitic worm infections, and $450 million to provide unconditional cash transfers to 375,000 extremely low-income individuals. Our expectation is that our top charities can effectively use even more funding than that—that’s just a starting point.

Our 2019 recommendation: “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion”

Our top recommendation for donors giving in 2019 is to give to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion.” We will grant these funds each quarter to the top charity or charities where we believe they will have the greatest impact.

The top charity we model as having the highest impact per additional dollar can change throughout the year. To inform our understanding, we ask our top charities to provide us with updated information on an ongoing basis. For example, a top charity may share that it has found new opportunities for impact, such as the potential to work in a new country with a significant need for its program.

In addition, top charities typically receive funding from GiveWell donors and other sources on an ongoing basis. We update our expectations of how much additional funding charities need each quarter by incorporating funding they have received since our last allocation of “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion.”

Summary

  • Our 2019 top charities (More)
  • How we prioritize our top charities’ funding needs (More)
  • New information we learned in 2019 (More)
  • Giving to GiveWell’s operations (More)
  • Tips for donating efficiently (More)
  • Questions? (More)
  • More information on our top charities and 2019 review process (More)

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Allocation of discretionary funds from Q1 2018

In the first quarter of 2018, we received $2.96 million in funding for making grants at our discretion. In this post we discuss:

  • The decision to allocate the $2.96 million to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) (70 percent) and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) (30 percent).
  • Our recommendation that donors give to GiveWell for granting to top charities at our discretion so that we can direct the funding to the top charity or charities with the most pressing funding need. For donors who prefer to give directly to our top charities, we continue to recommend giving 70 percent of your donation to AMF and 30 percent to SCI to maximize your impact.

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Key questions about Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program

One of our two new top charities this year is Helen Keller International (HKI)’s vitamin A supplementation program. We named HKI’s vitamin A supplementation program a top charity this year because:

  • There is strong evidence from many randomized controlled trials of vitamin A supplementation that the program leads to substantial reductions in child deaths.
  • HKI-supported vitamin A supplementation programs are inexpensive (we estimate around $0.75 in total costs per supplement delivered) and highly cost-effective at preventing child deaths in countries where HKI plans to work using GiveWell-directed funds.
  • HKI is transparent—it has shared significant, detailed information about its programs with us, including the results and methodology of monitoring surveys HKI conducted to determine whether its vitamin A supplementation programs reach a large proportion of targeted children.
  • HKI has a funding gap—we believe it is highly likely that its vitamin A supplementation programs will be constrained by funding next year.

HKI’s vitamin A supplementation program is an exceptional giving opportunity, but as with the case for donating to any of our other top charities, not a “sure thing.”

I’m the Research Analyst who has led our work on HKI this year. In this post, I discuss some key questions about the impact of Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program and what we’ve learned so far. I also discuss GiveWell’s plans for learning more about these issues in the future.

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Our top charities for giving season 2017

This year, we added two new top charities, Evidence Action’s No Lean Season program and Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program, and retained our seven top charities from 2016. We also added Evidence Action’s Dispensers for Safe Water program to our list of standout charities.

We recommend that donors give to GiveWell for granting to top charities at our discretion so that we can direct the funding to the top charity or charities with the most pressing funding need. For donors who prefer to give directly to our top charities, we recommend giving 70 percent of your donation to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and 30 percent to the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) to maximize your impact. We expect Good Ventures, a foundation with which we work closely, to provide significant support to each top charity; our recommendation to give to AMF and SCI is based on how much good we believe additional donations can do.

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