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Here We Go Again (and Again and Again): Let’s Stop Looking for the One ‘New Approach’ to Philanthropy

The post Here We Go Again (and Again and Again): Let’s Stop Looking for the One ‘New Approach’ to Philanthropy appeared first on The Center for Effective Philanthropy.

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Researcher spotlight: Erin Crossett, GiveWell Program Officer

Our research team spends over 50,000 hours a year looking for cost-effective organizations and interventions to save and improve lives, with the goal of producing the world’s top research on where to give. This interview with Program Officer Erin Crossett provides a glimpse into the world of GiveWell research.

Q: What made you interested in joining the GiveWell research team?
A: I really cared about working at a place where evidence of real impact was the key determinant of what we investigated and what we funded. I think a lot of organizations nominally care about impact, and the term “impact” gets thrown around a lot. But I think it really means something at GiveWell—it’s a core part of the GiveWell research DNA, and that’s very motivating.
Q: What grant are you most proud of contributing to during your time at GiveWell?
A: Actually the first grant I made at GiveWell: a grant to the Development Innovation Lab (DIL) at the University of Chicago to launch what we hoped would be a large, multi-site randomized controlled trial of water quality interventions. The trial was powered to detect mortality, looking at the effect of vouchers (coupons to redeem for free chlorine) and in-line chlorination (chlorine provided via an automatic dispenser added to an existing water pump) on all-cause mortality in children under five.
This grant was exciting for a number of reasons—it’s really rare to be able to run trials that are powered to detect mortality because it requires a really big sample size, and logistically, it’s quite complex to run a trial of that size. So the fact that we could do it, or even that we just took the first step to do it, is very exciting.
Before I joined GiveWell, a couple researchers on the team did a lot of work to make our first investments in clean water, but we were really uncertain about the effect of chlorination on all-cause mortality. This trial could reduce some of that uncertainty and potentially lead us to invest significantly more in water quality interventions. If the results are less promising than we thought, that could instead lead us to direct money to other interventions that are more cost-effective. So this research has real implications for how we direct large amounts of money. We would also learn

Givewell Blog | http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheGivewellBlog

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Uncovering Local Knowledge in Grassroots Associations: An Illustration of the Critical Reflexive Approach

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Grassroots associations (GAs) are the “keepers” of collective local knowledge yet uncovering that local knowledge remains challenging for nonprofit researchers. In this study, we propose the utility of reflexivity for nonprofit scholars conducting research aimed at accessing local knowledge within GAs and illustrate its use in practice through collaborative autoethnography (CAE). From block clubs to mutual aid groups, grassroots associations provide a space for members to come together, share insights, build community, and are important repositories of local knowledge. However, GAs remain the “dark matter” of the nonprofit sector—understudied and undertheorized. We discuss the difficulties nonprofit researchers face in accessing the local knowledge of resident within grassroots associations. We then present our CAE methodology and conclude by recommending that scholars interested in accessing local knowledge engage in reflexive praxis attuned to power and positionality. This study contributes to expanding our work with and knowledge of grassroots associations within nonprofit studies.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly | https://journals.sagepub.com/action/showFeed?ui=0&mi=ehikzz&ai=2b4&jc=nvsb&type=etoc&feed=rss  

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The hardest part about fundraising for GiveWell

May marked my three-year anniversary as a Philanthropy Advisor at GiveWell. It’s a job I adore (as I’ve written about here and here), and I’ve recently been tasked with the exciting process of interviewing candidates for our growing team.
One of the best questions I’ve been asked in this process is: What’s the hardest part about fundraising for GiveWell? The short answer: GiveWell is funding constrained, but we can’t point at a specific opportunity and say, “If you donate now, here’s the impact your donation will actually cause.”
Instead, our answer is fairly abstract, and pretty far from traditional fundraising language. We tell donors that we would spend additional money on opportunities at or above our cost-effectiveness bar (which translates to saving a life for about $5,000), but we’re unable to explain in advance precisely what we will allocate additional funds to. That answer isn’t as compelling as telling someone a vivid story about how their money alone would allow us to fund a great program we’ll otherwise have to decline, but it has the advantage of being completely accurate and true.
It’s natural that people aligned with GiveWell’s approach would ask about the true impact their funds unlock, and also about what would happen if they don’t give. After all, these are key questions1To learn more about how we fund, check out our “How We Work” blog series. jQuery(‘#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14984_1_1’).tooltip({ tip: ‘#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14984_1_1’, tipClass: ‘footnote_tooltip’, effect: ‘fade’, predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: ‘top right’, relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); we think about as a funder. Donors make careful decisions about how much to give, when to give, and where to allocate gifts according to their priorities; to make those decisions, they need to know what we’d do with their money and what we would be prevented from doing if they don’t donate.
But the GiveWell research process doesn’t lend itself to easy answers to these questions. So indulge me, if you will, in an extended metaphor:
I’m at the grocery store shopping for a huge dinner party. I choose everything on my list, get to the checkout, and realize I don’t have enough money to cover my selections. I choose a few things to put back, and then the kind bystander behind me magnanimously steps up to

Givewell Blog | http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheGivewellBlog

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June 2024 open thread

Our goal with hosting quarterly open threads is to give blog readers an opportunity to publicly raise comments or questions about GiveWell or related topics (in the comments section below). As always, you’re also welcome to email us at info@givewell.org or to request a call with GiveWell staff if you have feedback or questions you’d prefer to discuss privately. We’ll try to respond promptly to questions or comments.
You can view previous open threads here.
The post June 2024 open thread appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Givewell Blog | http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheGivewellBlog

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To Ensure Nonprofit Well-Being, Invest in Wages, Workload, and Working Conditions

The post To Ensure Nonprofit Well-Being, Invest in Wages, Workload, and Working Conditions appeared first on The Center for Effective Philanthropy.

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May 2024 updates

Every month we send an email newsletter to our supporters sharing recent updates from our work. We publish selected portions of the newsletter on our blog to make this news more accessible to people who visit our website. For key updates from the latest installment, please see below!
If you’d like to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox each month, you can subscribe here.
Fun Fact
In the past 12 months, GiveWell has recommended grants in 20 countries across Africa and Asia! See the countries represented on the map below.
Created by mapchart.net
Meet Our New Hires
We’ve shared several hiring announcements with you recently, and we’re excited to introduce you to two new GiveWellians!
Meet Araceli Steger, our new Head of People, and Uri Bram, our new Head of Communications. Araceli joins us from Tegus, an investment research platform where she was Vice President of People. Uri was most recently the CEO of The Browser newsletter, curating the most interesting writing on the web every day.
We’re thrilled to have Araceli and Uri on board! Thank you for sharing our job announcements with your networks and helping us find exceptional people to join our team.
Research and Partner Roundup
GiveWell publishes new research pages on $500,000 grant to Family Empowerment Media for the production of small-scale radio transmitters and $896,000 bridge grant to Development Innovation Lab for continued research on the effect of water chlorination on mortality. New Incentives publishes new blog post about vaccine hesitancy. Malaria Consortium hosts panel on role of philanthropy in fighting malaria featuring GiveWell’s Alicia Weng.
The post May 2024 updates appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.

Givewell Blog | http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheGivewellBlog

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How High Is Too High? An Experimental Analysis of Donors’ Aversion to Nonprofit Overhead

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Despite the abundance of literature related to nonprofit overhead, the following questions remain unclear: (a) How high is too high for individual donors when considering an organization’s overhead? (b) Is there a difference between nonprofit subsectors in individual donors’ aversion to nonprofit overhead? Moreover, (c) Does trust play a role in individual donors’ overhead aversion? This study used a survey experiment and randomly assigned participants to one of four overhead ratio conditions (5%, 20%, 35%, and 50%). We find that individuals’ donations to human service nonprofits substantially decrease when the overhead reaches 35%. In contrast, their donations to health care nonprofits do not decrease until the ratio reaches 50%. In addition, we find that donors lose trust in nonprofits when overhead costs are higher, leading to decreased donations. The findings contribute to the theoretical understanding of donors’ giving behavior, offering practical implications for promoting sustainable giving.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly | https://journals.sagepub.com/action/showFeed?ui=0&mi=ehikzz&ai=2b4&jc=nvsb&type=etoc&feed=rss  

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This Year’s State of Nonprofits Highlights Mounting Concern About Burnout

The post This Year’s State of Nonprofits Highlights Mounting Concern About Burnout appeared first on The Center for Effective Philanthropy.

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Mobile vaccination with New Incentives

In this blog post, we’re crossposting the work of one of our grantee organizations and top charities: New Incentives, which gives cash incentives for parents and caregivers in Northern Nigeria to take advantage of standard childhood vaccines that are freely available from government clinics. Recently, New Incentives wrote about the experiences of their staff member Idris and a mobile vaccination team on one particular Saturday morning in Kano State, Nigeria.
While most of the vaccinations that New Incentives incentivizes occur at stationary clinics, mobile vaccination teams exist to serve mothers such as Alawiyya, aged 20, who says she lost so much blood during the recent home birth of her child, now three weeks old, that she wasn’t able to walk the few miles to the nearest clinic so baby Aliyu could be vaccinated.
At GiveWell, we direct funds based on careful, rigorous examination of quantitative evidence from academic trials and other on-the-ground research. We worry that simple stories can be misleading, often because they cherry-pick the best-case outcome of a program while obscuring its general impact. They can also result in charitable funding being directed toward more photogenic causes, even when the need might be greater elsewhere.
Nonetheless, we hear from some of our donors that stories and photos help bring the impact of their donations to life, and we think that this vivid example of New Incentives’ work is a great way to experience that. We also think that understanding the logistical details of how programs are implemented, and the varied and specific challenges they face, helps make clear why GiveWell’s detail-oriented, evidence-centric approach is so important.
For example, on this particular day, this mobile vaccination team was able to vaccinate more babies than expected in Alawiyya’s village, Jijiyawa, but only one baby out of the expected five in another village, Yan Gizo. Carefully tracking how many of the eligible babies ultimately get vaccinated is crucial for figuring out how cost-effective the program is.
So we wanted to share the stories of Idris, Alawiyya, and this particular mobile vaccination team on this particular Saturday morning, even while flagging that it’s just one of the 5,900 clinics and 11,130 mobile vaccination sessions that New Incentives staff participated in during January 2024. The plural of “story” is not data, but the stories do

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Leading Volunteers Effectively: Development and Preliminary Validation of the Volunteer Leader Behavior Scale

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Volunteers are integral to civic and social life, and leadership is integral to keeping volunteers satisfied and committed. However, volunteer leadership research is hindered by the dispersion of leadership theories and the absence of a specialized leader behavior assessment tool. To address this, we developed and validated a four-dimensional scale for evaluating the behaviors of leaders of volunteers. Using confirmatory factor analyses, we confirmed a four-factor, hierarchical model in an Australian emergency volunteer sample. Concurrent validity was confirmed in relation to satisfaction with leadership, overall satisfaction with volunteering experience, and affective organizational commitment. Further details of quantitative studies for scale evaluation are provided. This study provides researchers and practitioners with a valid and reliable instrument to assess different aspects of effective leader behaviors within the volunteering context. Implications, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly | https://journals.sagepub.com/action/showFeed?ui=0&mi=ehikzz&ai=2b4&jc=nvsb&type=etoc&feed=rss  

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How Can Nonprofit Policy Advocacy Influence Policymakers? A Factorial Survey Experiment on the Effects of Nonprofit Advocacy Strategies on Policymakers’ Willingness to Act

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This study investigates how policy advocacy strategies employed by nonprofit organizations (NPOs) affect the willingness of policymakers to act upon policy inputs. In a 2 × 2 full-factorial research experiment, we presented 706 Flemish municipal policymakers with four realistic scenarios describing an advocacy campaign of a local welfare nonprofit. In the scenarios, we apply two modes of advocacy tactics (direct or indirect) and two modes of NPO representation (professional staff members or self-advocates). The findings indicate a high likeliness to act on NPO policy inputs throughout the policy process, albeit with a small drop during the formulation stage. Small but significant increases in likeliness to act are noted when policymakers are confronted with either direct advocacy tactics or professional advocates.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly | https://journals.sagepub.com/action/showFeed?ui=0&mi=ehikzz&ai=2b4&jc=nvsb&type=etoc&feed=rss  

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GiveWell’s Research Council

As GiveWell grows and matures as an organization, we’re excited to continue learning from others in our field. We believe that actively seeking feedback on our work enables us to do more good. In May 2023, we launched a Research Council, a small group of experts we can consult on research questions and grant investigations.
We aimed to create a Council whose collective experience includes:

Deep familiarity with specific areas GiveWell researches
Substantial time working and/or living in the geographic areas where we fund work (low- and middle-income countries, primarily in Africa and South Asia)
Conducting research, especially randomized controlled trials (RCTs), on global health and development programs
Taking effective programs from pilot to scale
Working in partnership with major funding institutions and with country governments, especially the governments of countries where we support programs

So far, we’ve held three meetings with this full group to share further details of our research process and how we set our cost-effectiveness threshold. During these meetings, Council members provided helpful feedback about ways we might improve our research.
Additionally, we’ve asked Council members for their recommendations for how to approach tricky questions in our grant investigations and on bigger-picture considerations we might be missing. For example, we spoke with Council members about whether an organization’s request for additional funding seemed reasonable, about vaccination rates, and about ways to improve how we work with organizations and governments. We’ve also asked Council members for referrals to other experts on specific topics of interest.
This Council is a new initiative for getting external feedback. For this first iteration, we’ve invited people who are familiar with GiveWell’s work, all of whom have some current or previous affiliation with organizations to which GiveWell has recommended funding. We wanted to start with a small group of advisors we already knew in some capacity; depending on how this initiative goes, we might expand in the future to include a wider set of experts. We’ll also continue to seek input on our research from external advisors and experts beyond this Council.
While seeking external feedback is an important part of our process, all GiveWell funding and organizational decisions are made solely at our discretion and may not reflect the views of external contributors, and vice-versa.
Currently, our Research Council includes six members, listed below and on this page.

Amrita Ahuja is Vice President

Givewell Blog | http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheGivewellBlog

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Prioritizing Grants Management: An Unsung Key to Effective Funding

The post Prioritizing Grants Management: An Unsung Key to Effective Funding appeared first on The Center for Effective Philanthropy.

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Attention-Seeking Strategies: An Investigation of Sexual Assault Organizations’ Communication Tactics on Twitter

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This study examines the attention-seeking strategies of sexual assault organizations on Twitter in Canada, exploring the factors influencing the level of attention received. Drawing on the foundation work of Guo and Saxon’s four-factor explanatory model, the research extends and refines the model by incorporating new factors, including Covid-related content, network size, intended audience, direct services, donations, and visual content. The study’s methodology involved sampling 124 sexual assault and rape crisis centers in Canada, collecting Twitter data (n = 320,836 Tweets up to April 2023), and employing ordinary least squares and fixed effect regression analysis. Results showed significant relationships between these factors and attention received, providing insights for both theoretical understanding and practical guidance.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly | https://journals.sagepub.com/action/showFeed?ui=0&mi=ehikzz&ai=2b4&jc=nvsb&type=etoc&feed=rss  

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