Request for Feedback: Researching global poverty interventions with the intention of founding a charity.


I intend to initiate a project that looks for highly effective global poverty interventions that are not currently being carried out. The aim of this research is to be able to found a charity that is good enough to be recommended by GiveWell.

Please criticise this idea.

We think it is a good idea to check whether the EA community sees problems with this idea. Many eyes see more than a dozen. We want this idea to be thrown away if it’s not good or improved if it is improve-worthy. Please criticise it if you feel that the idea of founding a charity is not great, or if you think our plan to get there (set out in the rest of this post) is not great, then criticise that.

The idea:

Sam Hilton, some others and I have recently expressed interest in founding a charity that is good enough to be recommended by GW.

Our reasons:

We think that this project has high expected utility.

There is a small chance that we could find a highly effective intervention and could create a charity that is better than any of the existing top recommended GW charities.

More likely we think that as the EA community grows then the room for more funding for GiveWell's current top recommended charities will shrink. Even if it is relatively easy for GiveWell's current top charities to expand to other countries and they may find that the effectiveness of their interventions is lower in those countries. (Details on SCI’s funding gap can be found here. AMF has previously lost its top spot due to limited room for more funding. We are assuming that GiveDirectly has a larger room for funding but is slightly less effective than AMF and SCI and DtW.)

We recognise the existence of organisations that scale up effective interventions, such as Evidence Action, but believe that there is a benefit to even more work in this area.

Step one – research:

We want some research into which global poverty interventions are potentially highly promising. We want to look for interventions that have some evidence behind them but where there is no charity working in this area (or no good effectiveness focused charity in that area, or no charity solely in that area).

We want to compile a public list of promising interventions. This list should be a tool that anyone keen to start a global poverty charity can look at and choose an intervention to start. It should list promising global poverty interventions some analysis and comparison of the different ideas. It should include both promising ideas that could be better than GW’s top recommended charities, as well as a no-go list of promising sounding ideas that can be dismissed as not worth starting following some initial research.

We envisage the process of generating ideas to fill out the list to be primarily through talking to existing research organisations in this area (beginning with GiveWell and including GW, GWWC, JPAL, IPA, DCP, Evidence Action, Centre for Global Development, Copenhagen Consensus, and so on) and asking if they have come across any promising high impact interventions.

Once a list of intervention ideas is compiled the next step would be to do further analysis of each intervention. This could be carried out by talking to the aforementioned organisations again in more detail, talking to experts in the fields and doing literature reviews.

We are currently looking to provide funding for GWWC to take on an intern to do this research.

Step two – more research:

The list is complete, so we choose an intervention to start. If the intervention is not currently supported by a large body of research then we want to fund/carry out a randomized controlled trial to test whether it’s worth pursuing this intervention.

Step three – found a new charity

How hard can it be ...?

So before you close this page, give us your feedback, even if it is just a score out of 10 in the comments below for how much you like this idea. We would appreciate it. It would take you only 30 seconds. ;-) If, rather than in the comments below, you would rather provide feedback privately and/or anonymously then you can do so using this feedback form.

If you want to take a look at our (slightly chaotic) notes, you can do so here.