GiveWell have released their 2020 recommendations (including a new top charity)

Link post

Here’s their blog post with the an­nounce­ment:

You can have a ma­jor, pos­i­tive im­pact to­day by choos­ing to sup­port or­ga­ni­za­tions backed by strong ev­i­dence: our top char­i­ties.

We recom­mend the non­prof­its that offer the most im­pact per dol­lar we’re aware of. In fact, we es­ti­mate that you can save a life by donat­ing $3,000-$5,000 to our top recom­men­da­tion.[1]

If you’re a long­time donor, you’ll rec­og­nize most of this year’s top char­i­ties. You may even won­der why our list hasn’t changed much. How­ever, a tremen­dous amount of re­search—truly thou­sands of hours—has been done to en­sure that these or­ga­ni­za­tions con­tinue to meet our high stan­dards. And al­though there are many fa­mil­iar names, one is en­tirely new: New In­cen­tives.

We’re proud to share our recom­men­da­tions and grate­ful to you for con­sid­er­ing sup­port­ing them. We hope you’ll read on!

How to give in 2020

Our nine top char­i­ties are the best op­por­tu­ni­ties we’ve found for donors to save or im­prove lives.

We con­duct an in­tense, month­slong as­sess­ment of each top char­ity be­fore de­ter­min­ing it can be added to our list. All top char­i­ties meet our high stan­dards for ev­i­dence of effec­tive­ness, cost-effec­tive­ness, and trans­parency. We be­lieve they will use dona­tions well.

How­ever, our work to en­sure that our top char­i­ties meet our stan­dards isn’t the end of our pro­cess. We con­tinu­ally as­sess where fund­ing is most needed within our list of top char­i­ties. Donors can sup­port the high­est-pri­or­ity needs by giv­ing to our Max­i­mum Im­pact Fund.

The Max­i­mum Im­pact Fund is our top recom­men­da­tion for donors who want to do as much good as pos­si­ble with their gift. We reg­u­larly make grants from the Max­i­mum Im­pact Fund to our top char­i­ties. We di­rect these grants where we be­lieve they will achieve the most good at the time they’re given.

Our top char­i­ties’ fund­ing needs con­stantly change. For ex­am­ple, a top char­ity might iden­tify an op­por­tu­nity to work in a new coun­try that re­quires more fund­ing than it has on hand. Another might re­ceive a large grant that fills its im­me­di­ate fund­ing needs. We con­tinu­ally mon­i­tor these changes and re-pri­ori­tize our top char­i­ties’ needs.

Giv­ing to the Max­i­mum Im­pact Fund is the best way to take ad­van­tage of our lat­est re­search and to en­sure your dona­tion is used as well as pos­si­ble, even within this great group of or­ga­ni­za­tions.

If you pre­fer to se­lect an in­di­vi­d­ual char­ity in­stead, our 2020 top char­i­ties are:

  • Malaria Con­sor­tium’s sea­sonal malaria chemo­pre­ven­tion program

  • Against Malaria Foun­da­tion (AMF)

  • He­len Kel­ler In­ter­na­tional’s vi­tamin A sup­ple­men­ta­tion program

  • SCI Foundation

  • Sight­savers’ de­worm­ing program

  • New In­cen­tives (new this year!)

  • Ev­i­dence Ac­tion’s De­worm the World Initiative

  • The END Fund’s de­worm­ing program

  • GiveDirectly

They are listed in or­der of how we cur­rently pri­ori­tize fund­ing them. When we pri­ori­tize our char­i­ties’ needs at this time of year, we ac­count for dona­tions from the Max­i­mum Im­pact Fund in the third quar­ter of the year and our recom­men­da­tions to Open Philan­thropy, the largest sin­gle donor to our top char­i­ties.[2]

Open Philan­thropy takes GiveWell’s recom­men­da­tions into ac­count when de­cid­ing how much to grant to each top char­ity. Usu­ally, we make all of our recom­men­da­tions to Open Philan­thropy in Novem­ber. This year, we made some of our recom­men­da­tions in Novem­ber and asked Open Philan­thropy to make a sec­ond round of grants to our top char­i­ties in Jan­uary 2021. If other donors fully meet the high­est-pri­or­ity needs we see to­day be­fore Open Philan­thropy makes its Jan­uary grants, we’ll ask Open Philan­thropy to donate to pri­ori­ties fur­ther down our list. It won’t give less fund­ing over­all—it’ll just fund the next-high­est-pri­or­ity needs.[3]

Our work on COVID-19

We spent sev­eral months in 2020 as­sess­ing po­ten­tial giv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that could miti­gate the effects of COVID-19. We fol­lowed re­search about emerg­ing needs and spoke with ex­perts and char­i­ties, in­clud­ing GiveWell’s top char­i­ties, about the needs they fore­saw or were ex­pe­rienc­ing.

As part of this work, we looked for giv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties out­side of our top char­i­ties list that could be as cost-effec­tive or more cost-effec­tive than our top char­i­ties, al­though we had less con­fi­dence in the im­pact of these op­por­tu­ni­ties due to our short re­view timelines and the un­cer­tain na­ture of the pan­demic. We recom­mended six grants to­tal­ing $3,656,000.[4] Beyond these six, we did not find op­por­tu­ni­ties that we be­lieved to be as or more cost-effec­tive than our top char­i­ties.

Our top char­i­ties im­ple­ment cru­cial, cost-effec­tive health pro­grams that are con­tin­u­ing even dur­ing the pan­demic. How­ever, it was im­por­tant to un­der­stand how the pan­demic would im­pact their work—they all sup­port pro­grams that typ­i­cally in­volve di­rect con­tact with peo­ple, such as host­ing com­mu­nity meet­ings and vis­it­ing peo­ple’s homes. We looked at how our top char­i­ties adapted their de­liv­ery mod­els dur­ing COVID-19, as well as fund­ing needs and plans that were dis­rupted due to the pan­demic. Over­all, the pan­demic had a fairly mod­est effect on the cost-effec­tive­ness and fund­ing needs of our top char­i­ties.[5] We con­tinue to recom­mend that donors sup­port our top char­i­ties via GiveWell’s Max­i­mum Im­pact Fund.

We plan to fol­low needs that con­tinue to emerge due to the pan­demic, which may lead us to make ad­di­tional recom­men­da­tions in the fu­ture.

Key re­search updates

All year long, we fol­low our top char­i­ties’ work to con­firm that they con­tinue to meet our stan­dards and to un­der­stand their fund­ing needs and plans. There are a few ma­jor ways in which we do this:

  • We speak with each top char­ity reg­u­larly. Depend­ing on whether we have ma­jor open ques­tions, we typ­i­cally check in ev­ery one to four months.

  • We ask each top char­ity for de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the de­liv­ery of its pro­grams, so we can see if it’s suc­cess­fully reach­ing peo­ple.

  • We ask each top char­ity for its lat­est spend­ing in­for­ma­tion and what it plans to do next.

  • We mon­i­tor new aca­demic re­search and con­duct our own analy­ses to im­prove our un­der­stand­ing of our top char­i­ties’ pro­grams.

This year, we com­pleted sev­eral large re­search pro­jects to im­prove our un­der­stand­ing of our top char­i­ties, in­clud­ing:

  • Dig­ging deeply into AMF’s mon­i­tor­ing. Although we always ask our top char­i­ties for in­for­ma­tion on the de­liv­ery of their pro­grams, we con­ducted a par­tic­u­larly deep in­ves­ti­ga­tion this year into how AMF mon­i­tors whether it is suc­cess­fully reach­ing peo­ple with malaria nets.[6] We have higher con­fi­dence in our cost-effec­tive­ness es­ti­mate of AMF as a re­sult. (More)

  • Up­dat­ing how long we ex­pect malaria nets to last. An im­por­tant in­put into our as­sess­ment of AMF’s im­pact is how long AMF-dis­tributed malaria nets last. This year, we did an anal­y­sis to more ac­cu­rately es­ti­mate the cov­er­age we should ex­pect from its nets. This was a ma­jor pro­ject, but it did not sig­nifi­cantly change our es­ti­mate of the dura­bil­ity of nets, al­though we now have much higher con­fi­dence in our es­ti­mate. (More)

  • Im­prov­ing how we model par­a­sitic worm in­fec­tions among pop­u­la­tions reached by the de­worm­ing pro­grams we sup­port. We looked at data on the prevalence and in­ten­sity of worm in­fec­tions to more ac­cu­rately as­sess the im­pact of de­worm­ing treat­ments. We also up­dated the way we ac­count for in­fec­tion in­ten­sity. This pro­ject had a sig­nifi­cant im­pact—some­times pos­i­tive, some­times nega­tive—on our cost-effec­tive­ness es­ti­mates for the four de­worm­ing char­i­ties we recom­mend and led us to repri­ori­tize their fund­ing needs. (More in 2020 GiveWell cost-effec­tive­ness anal­y­sis — ver­sion 2, “De­worm the World” tab, cell A41)

We also com­pleted smaller pro­jects, such as:

  • Bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and more trans­par­ently shar­ing how GiveWell-di­rected sup­port for malaria char­i­ties in­fluences other malaria fun­ders. We now es­ti­mate the im­pact on malaria fun­ders in each coun­try, rather than us­ing a gen­eral es­ti­mate across coun­tries. How­ever, be­cause our es­ti­mates did not sig­nifi­cantly change in the largest coun­tries in which AMF and Malaria Con­sor­tium work (the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo and Nige­ria, re­spec­tively), the over­all im­pact on their cost-effec­tive­ness was small. (More)

  • Devel­op­ing a new ap­proach to mod­el­ing the im­pact of re­ceiv­ing vi­tamin A sup­ple­ments on chil­dren’s fu­ture pro­duc­tivity and earn­ings in adult­hood. In most coun­tries, this led to a small de­crease in our es­ti­mate of He­len Kel­ler In­ter­na­tional’s cost-effec­tive­ness. (More)

  • Sur­vey­ing a sub­set of our donors to un­der­stand how they com­pare the value of avert­ing deaths at differ­ent ages to use as an in­put in our moral weights. This up­date had a min­i­mal effect on our cost-effec­tive­ness es­ti­mates for our top char­i­ties. (More)

In ad­di­tion to all of our work to im­prove our un­der­stand­ing of our ex­ist­ing top char­i­ties, we also re­searched new, promis­ing pro­grams and char­i­ties to po­ten­tially recom­mend. We’re ex­cited to an­nounce a new top char­ity this year: New In­cen­tives.

In­tro­duc­ing New Incentives

New In­cen­tives in­cen­tivizes care­givers of in­fants to com­plete a se­ries of rou­tine, po­ten­tially life-sav­ing child­hood im­mu­niza­tions by pro­vid­ing them with a small cash trans­fer when each vac­cine is given. It op­er­ates in North West Nige­ria, where child­hood im­mu­niza­tion rates are low.

We named New In­cen­tives a top char­ity this year af­ter con­sid­er­ing many fac­tors, in­clud­ing the re­sults of a high-qual­ity study of its pro­gram. The study was con­ducted from July 2018 to Fe­bru­ary 2020 by IDin­sight and was funded by Open Philan­thropy at our recom­men­da­tion. Based on that study, we es­ti­mate that New In­cen­tives in­creases the use of in­cen­tivized vac­cines by 22 per­centage points.[7]

The study re­sults, com­bined with New In­cen­tives’ track record and plans for scal­ing up, led us to calcu­late a high cost-effec­tive­ness for dona­tions to the pro­gram: $3,000 to $5,000 per life saved, com­pa­rable to our other life-sav­ing top char­i­ties.[8]

You can learn more in our New In­cen­tives re­view.

Giv­ing to GiveWell’s operations

GiveWell is a non­profit. We rely on dona­tions for our own op­er­a­tions. If you’re us­ing our re­search to guide your giv­ing, we hope you’ll also con­sider sup­port­ing GiveWell.

When you do, you’re con­tribut­ing to the re­search we con­duct and share with the pub­lic—like this blog post and all of the anal­y­sis that went into it. We recom­mend:

  • If you’ve never given to GiveWell’s op­er­a­tions be­fore, con­sider adding 10% to your dona­tion in sup­port of our work.

  • If you’ve sup­ported our op­er­a­tions in the past, we hope you’ll re­new your sup­port.

If you’re wor­ried about us get­ting too much fund­ing, please know that our “ex­cess as­sets” policy pre­vents us from hold­ing more fund­ing than we ex­pect to need for our own work in the com­ing years. It re­quires us to grant any op­er­a­tions fund­ing we hold over a cer­tain thresh­old to our recom­mended char­i­ties.

We also cap at 20 per­cent the pro­por­tion of our op­er­at­ing bud­get that any one in­di­vi­d­ual or or­ga­ni­za­tion can con­tribute. This helps us avoid overly rely­ing on a sin­gle source of sup­port.

How to give efficiently

In ad­di­tion to our recom­men­da­tions for where to give, we also have ad­vice for donors who want to know how to give to max­i­mize the effi­ciency of their dona­tions. See our:

Ways to learn more

Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion is linked be­low:

Our lat­est cost-effec­tive­ness anal­y­sis of our top char­i­ties. Please note that while we ded­i­cate sig­nifi­cant re­sources to mak­ing these es­ti­mates and while they are an im­por­tant part of our work, we have sig­nifi­cant un­cer­tainty about the fi­nal figures. You can read more about this here.

While we aim to max­i­mize the good ac­com­plished per dol­lar donated, these es­ti­mates are only one fac­tor we con­sider when de­cid­ing how to pri­ori­tize among our top char­i­ties’ needs. We also con­sider char­i­ties’ qual­i­ta­tive strengths and weak­nesses, the ur­gency of their fund­ing needs, and other fac­tors.

  • Qual­i­ta­tive as­sess­ments of our top char­i­ties are available here.

  • Our up-to-date re­views of our top char­i­ties are linked from this page,

  • You can con­tact us at and in the com­ments be­low if you have any ques­tions about our lat­est recom­men­da­tions.

Thank you for be­ing part of our com­mu­nity. We hope you’ll join us in fund­ing these ex­cel­lent or­ga­ni­za­tions!