The GiveWell Blog

Announcing the Change Our Mind Contest for critiques of our cost-effectiveness analyses

We’re extremely excited to be announcing the Change Our Mind Contest to encourage critiques of our cost-effectiveness analyses that could lead to substantial improvements of our overall allocation of funds. For all the details, see this page.

Cost-effectiveness is the single most important input in our decisions about what programs to recommend, and we believe it’s possible that we’re missing important considerations or making mistakes that lead us to allocate funding suboptimally. We’ve been excited to see people engaging with our cost-effectiveness analyses, and we’d like to inspire more of that engagement.

With that in mind, we’re inviting you to identify potentially important mistakes or weaknesses in our existing cost-effectiveness analyses and tell us about them!

Read More

Why are we always criticizing charities?

Recently, we’ve criticized (in one way or another) many well-known, presumably well-intentioned charities (Smile Train, Acumen Fund, UNICEF, Kiva), which might lead some to ask: should GiveWell focus on the bad (which may discourage donors from giving) as opposed to the good (which would encourage them to give more)? Why so much negativity and not…

Read More

Our process: Narrowing the field

One of the aspects of our research process that has generated some objections is our use of “heuristics,” i.e., shortcuts to winnow the field of recommended charities from 300+ to a manageable number for closer investigation. The heuristics we use are described here. A good statement of the objections comes this comment at Hatrack forums:…

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

Qualitative evidence vs. stories

Our reviews have a tendency to discount stories of individuals, in favor of quantitative evidence about measurable outcomes. There is a reason for this, and it’s not that we only value quantitative evidence – it’s that (in our experience) qualitative evidence is almost never provided in a systematic and transparent way. If a charity selected…

Read More