This is the first of three posts that form our annual review and plan for the following year. This post reviews and evaluates last year’s progress on our work of finding and recommending evidence-based, thoroughly-vetted charities that serve the global poor. The following two posts will cover (i) our plans for GiveWell’s research in 2018 and (ii) GiveWell’s progress and plans as an organization. We aim to release our metrics on our influence on donations in 2017 by the end of June 2018.
We believe that 2017 was a successful year for GiveWell’s research. We met our five primary goals for the year, as articulated in our plan post from the beginning of the year:
Our primary research goals for 2017 are to:
- Speed up our output of new intervention assessments, by hiring a Senior Fellow and by improving our process for reviewing interventions at a shallow level.
- Increase the number of promising charities that apply for our recommendation. Alternatively, we may learn why we have relatively few strong applicants and decide whether to change our process as a result. Research Analyst Chelsea Tabart will spend most of her time on this project.
- Through GiveWell Incubation Grants, fund projects that may lead to more top charity contenders in the future and consider grantees No Lean Season and Zusha! as potential 2017 top charities.
- Further improve the robustness and usability of our cost-effectiveness model.
- Improve our process for following the progress of current top charities to reduce staff time, while maintaining quality. We also have some specific goals (discussed below) with respect to answering open questions about current top charities.
We achieved our five primary goals for the year:
- Our intervention-related output was greater than in any past year, although we still see room for improvement in the pace with which we complete and publish this work (more). We hired a Senior Fellow and published nine full or interim intervention reports in 2017, compared to four in 2016.
- We increased the number of promising charities that applied for our recommendation (more).
- We added two new top charities: Evidence Action’s No Lean Season (the first top charity to start as a GiveWell Incubation Grant recipient) and Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program (which joined our list as a result of our charity outreach work). We continued to follow our current Incubation Grant recipients and made several new Incubation Grants to grow the pipeline of new top charities (more).
- We made substantial improvements to our cost-effectiveness analysis (more).
- We reduced the amount of staff time spent on following our current top charities. We also completed 17 of the 19 activities outlined in last year’s plan (more).
We discuss progress on each of our primary goals below. For each high-level goal, we include (i) the subgoals we set in our last annual review, (ii) an evaluation of whether we met those subgoals, and (iii) a summary of key activities completed last year.