ImpactMatters was founded in 2015 by Dean Karlan and Elijah Goldberg. They brought evidence-based impact ratings to a wider set of charities than GiveWell. Rather than focusing only on the very most effective charities they investigated impact and effectiveness across a wider range of charities willing to participate. (In some ways, this resembled SoGive). E.g., “in November 2019, ImpactMatters released over 1,000 ratings.”
I saw strong potential for Impact Matters to move an EA-adjacent impactfulness metric beyond a small list of Givewell and ACE charities, to move the conversation, get charities to compete on this basis, and ‘raise awareness’ (ugh, hate that expression). (I was not so happy about their rating much-less-impactful USA-based charities with international charities without making clear the distinction, but perhaps a necessary evil).
In late 2020 CharityNavigator acquired Impact Matters. They have added “Impact and Results Scores” for 100 or more charities and this is incorporated into their ‘Encompass Rating’ but not into their basic and most prominent and famous “stars system”, if I understand (it is complicated).
I think this has great positive potential, for the same reasons I thought Impact Matters had potential… and even more ’bringing this into the mainstream.
However, I’m not fully satisfied with the way things are presented:
The Impact Ratings don’t seem to convey a GiveWell-like ‘impact per dollar’ measure
In the presentation, they are a bit folded into and mixed up with the Encompass ratings. E.g., I couldn’t figure out how to sort or filter charities by their ‘Impact and Results Score’ itself.
Impact Ratings are not prominent or mentioned when one is looking through most categories of charities (e.g., my mother was looking for charities her organization could support dealing with “Human trafficking, COVID-19, hunger, or the environment” and nothing about impact came up)
In some presentations on their page cause categories with order-of-magnitude differences in impact are presented side-by-side, but only comparable with ’within-category ratings. Thus, a charity building wells in Africa may receive a much lower score, and thus appear to be much less effective, than a charity giving university scholarships to students in the USA.
They only have impact ratings for eight charities working internationally (vs 186 ratings for charities that only work within regions in the USA, I believe), and no animal or otherwise EA-relevant, as far as I know.
What do you think? Is this being used well? How could it be done better? How could we push them in the right direction?
There was some discussion of the original acquisition here.
Historically, Charity Navigator has been extremely hostile to effective altruism, as you probably know, so perhaps this isn’t surprising.
Thank you, I had not seen Luke Freeman @givingwhatwecan’s earlier post
That 2013 opinion piece/hit job is shocking. But that was 9 years ago or so.
I doubt CN would have acquired IM just to bury it; there might be some room for positive suasion here.