Hide table of contents


  • Organizational update: Gisele took over as the new Executive Director at doebem, and will work alongside Luan and Vevila to identify cost-effective organizations and direct funds to impactful charities.
  • The organization extensively studied pressing issues in Brazil to inform their selection process. The report can be accessed in English or Portuguese.
  • The study aims to identify cost-effective organizations addressing poverty and human development, employing the ITN criteria (Importance, Tractability, Neglectedness) for cause prioritization.
  • The study's methodology included constructing a comprehensive cause map, expert analysis, and ranking causes based on importance, tractability, and neglectedness.
  • The top three strategic causes identified are (i) non-communicable chronic diseases, (ii) hunger, malnutrition, and nutritional deficiencies, and (iii) lack of access to treated water.
  • Despite limitations such as the study's qualitative nature, there is recognition of the need for greater diversity among the experts involved.
  • Engagement from the community is encouraged, and gratitude is expressed towards contributors, underscoring the collaborative nature of the study.



Hello, everyone. I'm Gisele Fior, and I recently assumed the Executive Director position at doebem. A few months ago, we shared on this forum our transition from being solely volunteer-run to having a full-time team with a strong focus on researching and evaluating cost-effective causes and organizations. 

A bit about myself: I am a passionate advocate for positive social change, driven by a commitment to ethical leadership and resource optimization. With a background in Environmental Engineering and Public Management, I've dedicated my career to impactful initiatives, from environmental education to improving public management. As the incoming CEO of doebem, I'm excited to promote further effective giving values in Brazil, fostering collaborative solutions that prioritize equity, inclusion, and leadership development.

We have two main goals: researching the cost-effectiveness of interventions and organizations in Brazil and promoting a culture of effective giving by directing funds to local and global organizations. Over the past months, we've conducted a detailed study of the most strategic causes in the Brazilian context to guide our evaluation and selection of organizations recommended on our donation platform in this new round. We pointed out three causes with the greatest potential impact on the allocation of doebem’s resources: (1) non-communicable chronic diseases, (2) access to treated water, and (3) hunger, malnutrition and nutritional deficiency. The study is available in both English and Portuguese, and I invite you to read it and provide us with your valuable feedback, insights, and comments. This study precedes other documents already in production, delving deeper into prioritized causes.

Purpose of the Study

The commitment of doebem is to identify and recommend the most cost-effective organizations working on the macro cause of poverty and human development. The cause prioritization study is one step in our research process, based on the hypothesis that identifying the most strategic causes in Brazil, with the highest levels of importance, tractability, and neglectedness, will contribute to identify cost-effective organizations more efficiently.

Once we've prioritized the causes, we conduct an in-depth study of each one. We then evaluate organizations that offer solutions and interventions addressing each cause. The most effective organizations, regardless of the cause they relate to, will receive support from doebem in this round.

We have a sequential organization evaluation pipeline, starting with assessing organizations related to the lack of access to treated water, then moving to hunger, malnutrition, and nutritional deficiencies, and finally to non-communicable chronic diseases. If other organizations are identified as potentially more effective while already in a more advanced research stage, we will evaluate them when we finish this round.

While we don't have the list of recommended organizations yet, we maintain the organizations recommended in the first evaluation by doebem on our website, for which we continue to collect donations.


We used an approach based on the criteria of Importance, Tractability, and Neglectedness, summarized as ITN, and described below:

  • Importance: Size of the problem, considering not only the number of people impacted but also the magnitude of the impact on those affected by it.
  • Tractability: Ease of solving or the likelihood of feasible solutions to the problem.
  • Neglectedness: The effort exerted to solve the problem compared to what is necessary.

Causes that are significant in size and intensity, solvable with relatively simple interventions, and not receiving due attention are more promising in terms of return per monetary unit.

This was the methodological framework we used for this study, which involved experts in 7 areas related to poverty and human development, members of the Effective Altruism Brazil community, volunteers, our team, and board members. The study was conducted in four main stages detailed below:

1. Construction of the Cause Map

As a starting point, we built a map of potential causes, identifying social problems that are either causes or consequences of poverty and low development in Brazil. This work was done in partnership with the community members of Effective Altruism Brazil. The conclusion of this stage was a map of 59 causes grouped into seven areas: education, employment and income, food insecurity, obesity and malnutrition, housing, basic sanitation, health, and violence and crime.

2. Expert Analysis

To ensure the robustness of our study, we invited experts in the areas that emerged in the previous stage to evaluate the causes within their specialties. Sixteen experts, each with significant expertise in their areas through academic qualifications and/or practical experience, volunteered to participate in the study. Their contributions have been invaluable, enabling us to ensure at least 2 different assessments in each area.

The evaluations were conducted using a form composed of items related to the criteria of importance, tractability, and neglectedness on Likert scales, which were aimed at capturing the size or intensity of each cause and aspect evaluated.

The table below presents the causes with the highest scores in each criterion and area according to the evaluations made by the group:

3. Harmonization of responses and ranking of causes by area

The causes that should be prioritized are those that meet all three criteria together. Thus, it was necessary to find a way to create a synthetic index that combined the criteria of Importance, Tractability, and Neglectedness. Due to the nature of our work, being a multiplier organization that aims to reduce the country's most urgent problems through donations to organizations implementing effective solutions, we understood that the Tractability criterion should have a higher weight than the others. Thus, the composite index is a weighted average of the requirements, with 50% in tractability and the other 50% equally divided between the other two criteria of Importance and Neglectedness.

The causes with the highest scores in each area were:

  • Education: Absence of psychological support and social assistance in schools
  • Employment and Income: Low education/technical qualification
  • Food Insecurity, Obesity, and Malnutrition: Hunger and malnutrition
  • Housing: Real estate speculation
  • Basic Sanitation: Lack of access to treated water
  • Health: Non-communicable chronic diseases
  • Violence and Crime: Mass incarceration, prison violence, and criminal recidivism

4. Final ranking and prioritized causes

Since the ultimate goal of this study is to identify the three most strategic causes, we needed to compare the causes across different areas. To this end, we conducted a new round of evaluation starting from the top-ranked causes in each area, still using the ITN criteria through the analysis of public official indicators, research, and news, and subjective evaluations by the doebem team, board, and volunteers. This new round indicated that the three most strategic causes were, in this order, Non-communicable chronic diseases (Health), Hunger and malnutrition (Food Insecurity, Obesity, and Malnutrition), and Lack of access to treated water (Basic Sanitation).

The final stage of the process, detailed in the doebem cause prioritization report, was incorporating subsequent causes from the mentioned areas above to check if there could be any change in the final ranking. This did not occur. The only change was the expansion of the causes of food insecurity, obesity, and malnutrition.


This study concluded that the three causes that yield the highest social impact per monetary unit are:

  • Non-communicable chronic diseases
  • Hunger, malnutrition, and nutritional deficiencies
  • Lack of access to treated water

Study Limitations

Number and Profile of Experts: Considering the ambitious goal of the study to identify the most strategic causes in Brazil, it would be interesting to involve a more significant number of experts. Moreover, it is essential to diversify the profile across different social dimensions, such as gender, race/ethnicity, and region, to encompass various perspectives on the country's social context.

Results Dependent on the Sequence of Steps: Given our institutional context, we chose to phase the study to make it feasible. Consequently, the results depended on the order in which the steps occurred. In future iterations, we would like to have resources to evaluate the causes simultaneously, avoiding this problem.

Primarily Qualitative Approach: Many study steps were based on subjectivity or qualitative parameters. This could be better balanced by incorporating more quantitative metrics to compare causes. Given the considerable scope of the study (evaluating 59 causes) and considering the relatively high limitation of knowledge production and official data in some areas in Brazil, this was not possible, but it's certainly a path we would like to pursue.

How you can help

We would love to hear your perceptions and analyses regarding this study. You can leave comments or speak directly with our Research Director, Luan Paciencia, via email at <luan@doebem.org.br>. Let us know what else you would like to know about the work of doebem; it will be a pleasure to share more about us and our research work.


Numerous people contributed to this study, providing valuable feedback that expanded our perspective on this research. In particular, I would like to thank @SoGive for the financial support that made this research possible, @Spencer Ericson  for providing inputs and insights throughout this process, the experts who generously shared their knowledge with us, making this research reach higher levels of robustness, volunteers Felipe Amorim and @João Pedro Parreira Rodrigues for their support during the research, the Effective Altruism Brazil community, especially Davi Romão, Fernando Moreno, @Juana Martínez, @Leo Arruda, Rafael Proença, Ramiro Peres, and @Renan Araujo, who contributed significantly to the cause mapping stage, all the people we interacted with over the past months who directly or indirectly contributed to this research by sharing their perceptions, opinions, and suggestions related to the work of doebem, and finally, @Bruno Sterenberg, @luanpaciencia, our Research Director, and @DorneVv , our researcher, and the doebem Advisors @Lucas Giannini, @Elisa Mansur and @Alexandre Teixeira  for their continuous support throughout this period.






More posts like this

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

Thanks for sharing, Gisele!

1. Construction of the Cause Map

As a starting point, we built a map of potential causes, identifying social problems that are either causes or consequences of poverty and low development in Brazil. This work was done in partnership with the community members of Effective Altruism Brazil. The conclusion of this stage was a map of 59 causes grouped into seven areas: education, employment and income, food insecurity, obesity and malnutrition, housing, basic sanitation, health, and violence and crime.

Have you considered analysing animal welfare interventions? It is not related to poverty and low development, but Brazil's rising incomes are resulting in more factory-farming.

From 2002 to 2022, the number of poultry birds in Brazil increased 78.2 % (= 1.60*10^9/(898*10^6) - 1).

From 2000 to 2020, aquaculture production in Brazil increased 266 % (= 630*10^3/(172*10^3) - 1).

Hi Gisele,

At CEARCH (https://exploratory-altruism.org/), we generally agree that combating non-communicable chronic diseases is highly cost-effective (e.g. salt reduction policies to combat high blood pressure, sugar drinks taxes to combat obesity, also things like trans fat bans or alcohol taxes).

As part of our grantmaking work, we're on the lookout for charities/NGOs working on these issues (or more generally on advocating for health policy, and helping governments implement such policies). If you are aware of any organizations in this space, do let us know!

Thanks for sharing Gisele! Hoping the best for you and doebem.

Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities