Introduction

EA Philippines is often asked about what are the most effective charities people could donate to in the Philippines. We have also observed that most people in the EA Philippines community are more inclined to give locally than internationally. It is difficult for EA Philippines to answer the question of which charities are most effective since there is no local organization independently assessing the cost-effectiveness or impact of local charities or aggregating this information. In fact, many charities do not or are constrained to conduct an assessment of the ultimate impact of their programs or their cost-effectiveness.

Five members of the EA Philippines community, including the co-founders Tanya Quijano and Brian Tan, shared an interest in finding out some of the most effective local charities here in the Philippines. Joseph Cubar and Rochelle Bata have had some experience in the NGO sector and are somewhat familiar with the existing certification process for charities in the Philippines. The project is also supported by Janaisa Baril, another volunteer eager to do research on this project. Collectively, the team has done 10+ hours of interviews and around 40+ hours of research for this project.

Our goal for this project is to have more Filipinos aware of effective and high-impact charities in the Philippines and to help these charities (especially our top charity recommendation) fill their funding gaps, get volunteers, or fill any job vacancies. We did this by conducting research to identify these charities, and we aim to share them soon with our local EA community and publicly via social media.

This document will outline the progress of this project so far. Most importantly, we would like to request feedback on our approach, and our tentative list of recommended charities in the Philippines linked in this document.

Consultation and constraints

The team initially planned to conduct its own charity effectiveness analysis on (a) organizations that have been analyzed or recommended by GiveWell or The Life You Can Save and have operations in the Philippines, (b) organizations within our own network that were likely to give us information about their programs and their financial data, and (c) local organizations that have published information useful for cost-effectiveness analysis. The team received some training from Sanjay Joshi, a member of the effective altruism community and co-founder of SoGive. SoGive is a UK-based charity evaluator that assesses charities’ cost-effectiveness using its two-question method:

(1) how much does the charity's intervention cost

(2) and what do the beneficiaries get for people’s money?

In the process of researching these organizations, we encountered constraints in conducting cost-effectiveness analysis on their programs. We were not able to get reliable and accurate data on program interventions, as well as financial data. We also found out that the nature of some of their programs is focused on policy and local government capacity building, where the impact and cost-effectiveness are harder to measure. These crucial constraints made the team reassess its project objectives and capacities.

Current approach

The most that we can do for now is to conduct interviews and a bit of extra research on organizations already vetted by the effective altruism movement. We connected with organizations recommended or analyzed by GiveWell and The Life You Can Save, or have been given grants by the Open Philanthropy Project and the EA Funds, that have operations in the Philippines. 

The team is more confident about recommending charities analyzed by the organizations above because of the amount of research done on them and available evidence of their interventions’ effectiveness. We do not aim to give a definitive judgment on the effectiveness of these organizations in the Philippines, nor are we saying that they are the only ones that can be considered effective.

Our initial work resulted in this tentative list. The charities are grouped according to how confident we are in recommending them based on the data we’ve gathered on them so far. Vitamin Angels Philippines is our top charity recommendation because GiveWell has already done a cost-effectiveness analysis on them, where their vitamin A supplementation work in the Philippine is 2x more cost-effective than GiveDirectly

We have other charities tagged as “standout charities”  because GiveWell has not done a cost-effectiveness analysis on them, but we still think they are solving big and neglected problems and/or doing evidence-based programs. And lastly, we put in “other organizations worth mentioning” because they either have less evidence of effectiveness, or they don’t have room for more funding. We may still make changes to this after December 16 should we find new information about the impact and cost-effectiveness of these charities or other charities. 

We still think that it may be worthwhile to conduct cost-effectiveness analysis on these organizations, but only if we find more capable and willing volunteers or collaborators to pursue this project. We also need to see if these charities are willing to share more detailed impact and financial data.

Feedback requested

EA Philippines would like to request feedback on the approach we took in coming up with the list and the contents of the list above. Below are specific questions:

  1. Was it a good idea to include organizations recommended by EA-aligned organizations with local operations?
  2. Do you agree with our choice and rationale for Vitamin Angels Philippines being our top recommended charity?
  3. Do you agree with our choice and rationale for our Standout Charities? Is it okay for us to recommend these even if we don’t have detailed impact reports for some of them (and no cost-effectiveness figures for all of them)?
  4. Is it okay that we are putting in organizations with very different types of interventions in our list? For example, we have more direct delivery type charities (Vitamin Angels), policy advocacy (EcoWaste Coalition), and technical assistance (HKI Philippines).
  5. Do you know of groups that have done similar lists or recommendations (aside from EA Brazil whom we have consulted with already)? What has been the response? What did you think of their approach?
  6. Should we limit the circulation of this list within our community (i.e. FB Groups and Slack, which would reach ~100 people), or is it fine that we share this more widely?
  7. We have not included truly local organizations in the list doing similar interventions as the charities in our tentative list, but plan to do so in the future. Do you think this would be worthwhile to do?
  8. How worried should we be that releasing this list could skew people’s perception and understanding of effective altruism and EA Philippines to just mainly be about a) global health and development rather than multiple causes (i.e. including longtermist ones) and b) effective donations rather than effective careers? Should we do anything to mitigate against this risk?

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2 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:46 PM
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It's really exciting to see EA-based charity analysis in other countries! A few quick comments/questions:

  • Re the standout charities, you said "This is because none of the organizations’ Philippine operations have had a full cost-effectiveness analysis done by GiveWell." It may be feasible to adjust GiveWell's CEA for some of these, e.g. for deworming, you can vary parameters like baseline worm prevalence. I'm not sure how doable it is but just an idea to explore.
  • I think it's definitely a great idea to communicate this more widely and promote evidence-based giving in the Philippines, but how to do so beyond the EA community is a nontrivial question. May be worth checking with The Life You Can Save.
  • Among the charities, Oxfam is the only one that seems really broad (rather than running more focused programs like the others). The main reason it's recommended seems to be that TLYCS recommends it (rather than being evaluated using the rigorous criteria of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness etc.). It's probably also much less funding constrained than the others. So I'm a bit skeptical of it.
  • Sorry if I missed this, but what's the reason for there being only 1 animal welfare charity? My impression is there are many animal welfare groups active in Asia, though I don't know much about the Philippines. Lewis Bollard's animal welfare newsletter (and I think the EA animal welfare fund he manages) mentions some orgs in Asia -- not sure if you can find more that operate in the Philippines.

Hi @sindirella,

Thanks for this feedback! Here are some of our initial answers.

  • Ideally, we would have done a cost-effectiveness analysis on the work of the recommended charities with local operations, and this is more doable than others on the list. We are still in the process of building our relationship with them so that they are more open and willing to share their information with us and finding capable volunteers to conduct this. 
  • Yes, we would also like to be mindful about the best approach on this one. Thanks for the great tip to approach TLYCS and we will contact someone from there or someone previously affiliated to provide insight on this!
  • Yes, Oxfam in the Philippines do work in a broad range of areas, but they have flagship programs in poverty alleviation and social protection such as cash transfers, where there is some reliable evidence of effectiveness. However, it is correct that we have not found any available evaluation of their specific program yet. The team is reconsidering this, but we will also reach out to their local team to get more information on their financials.
  • Our team has done some research on EA-aligned animal charities, and when it comes to this, it is still actually limited in the Philippines. Aside from Animal Kingdom Foundation, Fish Welfare Initiative is an org starting up here, but their program is not as concrete in the Philippines compared to other locations (i.e. Indonesia).

Thank you again for your feedback, and we thoroughly appreciate it!