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At Charity Science we recently updated the look and content of our website. If you’re interested, you can see the new site here. The main content changes were the addition of a page with links to 23 shallow reviews into different fundraising methods and an overview of Charity Science’s past work, key values and plans for the coming months.

Shallow Reviews


These shallow reviews are about 100 pages in total, and are intended to be understandable to someone with no previous knowledge in the area. Reports vary somewhat in quality and style because they were written by many different staff and volunteers. However, all of them were based on the same questions and evaluation rubric.




As for our plans, over the next few months Charity Science will experiment with legacy fundraising, niche marketing and online advertising. We appreciate feedback on the experiment plans for these areas, which are available here. Also, we strongly encourage anyone who is wanting to help out with these experiments to contact us. Programmers, skeptics and financiers would be especially valuable to fine tune the niche marketing experiment plan. If you feel that you can help please email katherinexsavoie@gmail.com.


Legacy Fundraising


Regarding the legacy fundraising experiment, a core part of this will be to create a will-writing guide that encourages people to leave money to top charities. Thus far we feel that the best forms for this are a downloadable PDF document or an interactive web application. Examples of these two styles can be found here and here.

We would appreciate hearing what type of will writing guide you think would be better. We will likely create both but your opinion will help us decide how to allocate our time between them. We’ll be sure to seek more community feedback as we create this guide. Ideas about the best ways we can promote it and how likely EAs would be to use it would also be helpful in informing our approach to the legacy fundraising experiment.

We’re Hiring

Lastly, Charity Science is in the process of expansion and is looking to make a number of interns over the next few months. All interns will receive mentoring by senior staff and the opportunity to join the team in Vancouver. The work involved will likely be quite diverse in nature and will vary considerable depending on the individual’s strengths. Some areas where work will be available include, but are not limited to, research, operations, development and communications. If you’re interested, please send your questions or resume and cover letter to joey@charityscience.com. We ask that applicants be willing to commit at least 70 hours of their time to the internship.




Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 6:42 PM

When writing a will last year (through quite a basic legal-and- will-writing service), I encountered a potential serious pitfall for people writing unusual wills. One of the legacies I wanted to leave was larger than they expected. They had a maximum £ value for specific legacies, and wen I said I wanted to leave a bigger amount they cautioned me that it was likely to be overturned if legally challenged because 'nobody would expect you meant that'. I've heard similar stories from solicitors (eg a will written in the UK was overturned because the court ruled the parents would not have meant to leave the majority of their estate to the child who was better off. They did: they asked him to use the monety help the other child who was not good at handling finances, but the court reversed their legacies). One of the reasons to have a solicitor look over your will is that they challenge and confirm unusual clauses, which makes them harder to challenge when you die.

All of which is to say: if you are seeking to raise funds via wills, or intended to leave a legacy that would count as unusual in normal practice, than the less formal legal input you have had the more vulnerable it will be to challenge. It cost us £99 for a joint will writing package, which is a reasonable insurance policy to ensure our estates are donated as we wish.

Thanks Bernadette, I'll try to take that into account! Did you find a solution?

I point to ways to find cheap lawyers (and free services in the UK) in the current version of the will-writing guide. I'd love to hear about other options for this.

Yes, but a very specific one. After our experience I would generally recommend getting a solicitor to write your will.

There's been a recent legal update here making it even harder to leave a legacy in a particular way in the UK woman wins inheritance from estranged mother

Thanks Tom, will take that into account!

How do you think about the information hazard of publishing your results (that they'll become the new chugger method for less effective orgs) against the benefits of making them publicly available?

We have considered this hazard but currently do not think we get much non-EA traffic to our fundraising. Additionally I am not sure how much non-effective charity would benefit from the info (due to external validity concerns). If those factors were to change in the future we would update accordingly though.

External validity stuff / information hazard definitely only applies to a subset of the things you've explored currently, but I expect you to find fundraising strategies that do draw on non-EA resources more heavily and at more scale, and when that happens its a matter of time before that strategy is a victim of its own success?

One option you have already probably thought of, is for people wanting to read it to either give a significant donation through your site to a givewell rec or whatever, or demonstrate in some other way their commitment. If they're giving regularly anyway this wont be an issue.

One option you have already probably thought of, is for people wanting to read it to either give a significant donation through your site to a givewell rec or whatever, or demonstrate in some other way their committment. If they're giving regularly anyway this wont be an issue. The fear I have is that once it gets known about among fundraising industry you can't claw it back + advantage is gone, all the hard work you've done gone. But I'm sure you have a much better view of all this than I do sat at a computer across the Atlantic! Keep up the good work, its really interesting reading!

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looks like you're doing fantastic work! Very interested to see what comes out of the legacy exploration.

In terms of 'the thing that we think is most effective to fund to generate funds for givewell recs that is scalable' at the moment - what is your view? Or is the answer 'charity science'? Is there option for funders to give to one particularly effective scalable activity within your portfolio?

Sorry - its really clear on the website. Like the layout!

Neat, thanks for the updates.

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