GiveWell is a nonprofit charity evaluator based in San Francisco. They conduct and publish research into the most cost-effective giving opportunities in global health and development.[1]

History

GiveWell was started by Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld in 2007.[2] GiveWell also helped incubate Open Philanthropy, which was spun off as a separate entity in 2017.[2]

Top charities

GiveWell publishes a list of "top charities" based on cost-effectiveness and quality of evidence.[3] The list is updated annually. As of March 2022, the top GiveWell charities were, in order:

  1. Malaria Consortium's seasonal malaria chemoprevention program;
  2. Against Malaria Foundation, which provides long-lasting insecticide-treated nets
  3. Helen Keller International's vitamin A supplementation program;
  4. New Incentives, which provides conditional cash transfers for routine childhood vaccinations;
  5. SCI Foundation, Evidence Action's Deworm the World Initiative, Sightsavers's deworming program, and the The END Fund's deworming program; and
  6. GiveDirectly, which provides unconditional cash transfers for extreme poverty.

Standout charities

GiveWell used to also recognize a number of "standout charities" which, despite not meeting all of the criteria to be a top charity, were rated above nearly every other organization considered for evaluation.

The "standout charity" designation was discontinued in October 2021. GiveWell found that it caused confusion among some donors and was inconsistent with the goal of directing funds to the most cost-effective organizations.[4]

Impact

GiveWell estimates that it has moved over $880 million to its recommended charities since 2012.[5] According to their latest report, the money moved in 2020 was in excess of $224 million, a 60% increase from the roughly $140 million moved over the previous year.[6]

In November 2021, Open Philanthropy announced a substantial increase in the funds it plans to allocate to GiveWell's recommended charities: $300 million for 2021, with tentative plans to give an additional $500 million per year over the following two years. The decision was based on the perceived growth in GiveWell's ability to identify cost-effective opportunities, the significant growth in the assets Open Philanthropy expects itself and other related organizations to eventually distribute, and an increase in how much Open Philanthropy values saving lives relative to boosting income.[7]

Further reading

GiveWell (2015) 'GiveWell', in Ryan Carey (ed.) The Effective Altruism Handbook, 1st ed., Oxford: The Centre for Effective Altruism, pp. 109-113

GiveWell (2021) GiveWell’s year-end community event 2021, December 9.
A conversation with journalist Matthew Yglesias and GiveWell CEO Elie Hassenfeld on GiveWell’s origins, evolving role, and latest research.

Greenberg, Spencer (2022) Why it’s so hard to have confidence that charities are doing good (with Elie Hassenfeld), Clearer Thinking, March 17.
An interview with GiveWell's CEO.

Perry, Suzanne (2007) A quest for the best, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 20.

Strom, Stephanie (2007) 2 young hedge-fund veterans stir up the world of philanthropy, The New York Times, December 20.

GiveWell. Official website.

GiveWell. Effective Altruism Forum account.

Apply for a job.

Donate to GiveWell.

charity evaluation | Good Ventures | Open Philanthropy

  1. ^

    GiveWell (2017) GiveWell: A medium-depth overview, GiveWell, June.

  2. ^

    GiveWell (2018) Our story, GiveWell, February.

  3. ^

    GiveWell (2021) Our top charities, GiveWell, November.

  4. ^

    Hassenfeld, Elie (2021) We’re discontinuing the standout charity designation, The GiveWell Blog, October 5.

  5. ^

    GiveWell (2021) GiveWell’s impact, GiveWell, November.

  6. ^

    Dey, Robin (2021) GiveWell’s money moved in 2020, The GiveWell Blog, November 12.

  7. ^

    Berger, Alexander (2021) 2021 allocation to GiveWell top charities: why we’re giving more going forward, Open Philanthropy, November 22.