[Linkpost] GiveWell money moved in 2020 - up by 60%!

by James Ozden2 min read13th Nov 20214 comments

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GiveWellGlobal health and development
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Linking a post from the GiveWell blog on the amount of money they moved in 2020.

Some notable stats:

  • GiveWell donors contributed over $240 million to our recommended charities in 2020, a 60% increase from the approximately $150 million directed in 2019.
  • GiveWell raised $43.6 million in unrestricted funding in 2020, compared to $19 million in 2019. GiveWell’s total operating expenses in 2020 were $8.5 million.
    • Seems like GiveWell is having no trouble fundraising! In the full metrics report they write: In July 2021, GiveWell's Board of Directors voted to reallocate $25.8 million in unrestricted funds to making grants at GiveWell's discretion.
    • I wonder how much they're considering expanding or scaling up their research/team in light of this funding. They have two open posts for senior researchers but I wonder how many of each they'll be planning to hire.

 

Some related thoughts:

  • Ben Todd recently saying that GiveWell top charities (besides GiveDirectly) don't have too much room for more finding. If this is true when GiveWell were moving $160m/year, seems like it'll only be exacerbated if GiveWell is moving $240m/year.
  • The funding gap for GiveWell top charities excluding GiveDirectly was $73.2m as of July 2021 and $455.5m for GiveDirectly. Seems like GiveWell might have substantially filled the funding gap for their top charities excluding GiveDirectly so I wonder what the implications of this are going forward.
  • Does this mean we should spend a lot more trying to find near-termist interventions of similar effectiveness to AMF e.g. scale up GiveWell, Rethink Priorities (Global Health & Development team), etc. as fast as we can? Although it seems like Rethink Priorities is expanding fairly fast and I can imagine the same for GiveWell so there could be a management/recruitment bottleneck.
  • If the above organisation's expansion is limited by their ability to recruit or manage new staff, could this be incentive for new organisations to start who do near-termist charity/intervention/cause research? There could be an argument that new organisations would bring a different approach or set of assumptions to the work that encourages healthy competition.  Plus it does seem like people think more prioritisation research could be useful. The downside is possible duplication of work but I think this is outweighed by the potential benefits of finding new AMF-like opportunities.
  • To what degree do we lower the funding bar and try to fill the funding gap for GiveDirectly or wait until research discovers opportunities on par/close to AMF's cost-effectiveness?  I get the impression that people most concerned about global health and development don't want to invest or put aside money to help people later on so lowering the bar seems possible. In practice, I assume it'll be a bit of both but I'm curious how the allocation of funds would look like e.g. 50% of surplus funding after GiveWell top charities are fully funded goes towards GiveDirectly and the other 50% is invested.
  • Is there a case for funding the standout charities that GiveWell no longer recommends?

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4 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 5:16 AM
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(I work at GiveWell)

Thanks for sharing the news, James! The success of 2020 was surprising and exciting. We plan on publishing an update on our room for more funding before the end of November, and we’ll have much more detail to share then. A few high-level points we plan to address:

  • Room for more funding has gone up significantly. This has been a major focus of our work in 2021, and we’ve succeeded.
  • We expect our funds raised will continue to increase rapidly.

We’ll share more details and answer further questions once our update is live.

On LinkedIn Ben Todd repeated his claim about room for more funding  up until the end of 2023, based on this GiveWell spreadsheet

I'll repeat my reply here:

I'd really like to hear from someone at GiveWell (or the specific charities) to verify that this is the right interpretation of the funding gaps. For example, presumably this considers the funding gaps for specific programmes/countries that the likes of AMF are currently focusing on. But once that funding gap is filled, it seems plausible that there are other countries they could work on.

As an example, AMF currently state they have a funding gap of $53m (vs less than $1m according to that GiveWell spreadsheet). They state that "Agreements are being finalised with each country's Ministry of Health. This process is far advanced for the above programmes and we do not anticipate any issues. We do not publicly identify countries involved until an Agreement is signed". It seems plausible that these countries are not included in GiveWell's figures.

Another possibility is that the funding gap on AMF's website is for programmes that will be implemented after 2023

I totally agree - I replied something very similar to Ben on Twitter. His reply seems to imply that AMF's DRC program (referenced in the GiveWell room for more funding spreadsheet) meets the bar for cost-effectiveness whereas programs in other countries don't therefore aren't included. I'm somewhat skeptical of this however as GiveWell don't mention anything about this in their review of AMF but really not sure at all. I would also love if someone from GiveWell or AMF could weigh in on this and clear this up!

Also interesting: when I posted my tweet on the 10th (3 days ago) AMF had a listed funding gap of $74m and today (on the 13th) it's $54m! Either crazy coincidence that they got $20m in donations in three days or funding really is coming in that fast (semi-joking..)