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.
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!
In this post, we’ll cover:
How to give in 2020
Our work on COVID-19
Key research updates
Introducing New Incentives
Giving to GiveWell’s operations
How to give efficiently
Ways to learn more
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
Thanks to our donors, we have disbursed $23.3 million in flexible funding to our top charities this year. This generous, flexible support is worthy of celebration!
This post focuses on our decision to grant $15.3 million to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), which includes the $11.7 million that donors gave to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion” in the first half of 2020.
AMF supports the distribution of insecticide-treated nets in areas with high rates of malaria. The nets stop mosquitoes from biting and spreading the disease. We estimate our donors’ support for AMF will collectively save over 3,000 lives, mostly of young children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Guinea. Without this grant, we think net distributions in DRC and Guinea would have been delayed.
We believe that AMF was the highest-impact choice for this grant. We chose AMF after assessing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our top charities, the urgency of our top charities’ funding needs, and our estimates of their impact per dollar. We’re grateful for GiveWell donors’ trust in providing flexible funding to fill this need.
Why we chose AMF
We typically allocate flexible donations to our top charities every quarter. However, we delayed allocating the donations we received to “Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion” in the first quarter of 2020. We wanted to better understand the impact of the growing COVID-19 pandemic on charities’ budgets and plans before making a decision about where funding would have the greatest impact.
AMF was a top contender for receiving this grant because of its high estimated impact per dollar. It is continuing its work during the pandemic, with some delays and modifications. However, we wanted to resolve a couple open questions about its work before making a grant.
First, we wanted to make sure that AMF needed additional funding. At the end of 2019, it held around $70 million that was earmarked for specific distributions, but we were unsure how much of this funding would be formally committed. As of June 2020, AMF had committed nearly all of this funding and held only around $4 million in uncommitted funds. Distributions AMF hoped to carry out in DRC and Guinea in late 2021 to early 2022 would require significantly more than $4 million. There is a strong
We recently spoke with someone who wanted to donate to a GiveWell top charity. They were interested in getting the funding “out the door” and to program participants as quickly as possible.
But our top choice for funding today is Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program—for work it expects to complete in 2022. The potential donor was puzzled. Shouldn’t we prioritize an organization that needs the money sooner?
We often recommend donations today that support programs a few years from now. This probably diverges from many people’s intuitions about getting funding out the door as soon as possible.
Three key reasons why funding today leads to more impact in the future
1. Upfront coordination and planning increases charities’ impact.
Highly effective charities tend to spend a lot of time preparing before they implement their programs.
The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) is a GiveWell top charity that supports the distribution of insecticide-treated nets, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. These nets are hung over sleeping spaces and prevent mosquitoes from biting and transmitting potentially deadly malaria. AMF says the ideal lead time for its work is 23 months. During that time, it takes the following steps:
Choosing a location: AMF decides where it should direct funding to have the greatest impact. It considers malaria prevalence, the number of people in need of nets, and whether partner organizations can conduct distributions according to AMF requirements.
Negotiating an agreement: AMF and the country’s national malaria program negotiate a net distribution agreement and seek government approval.
Ordering nets: AMF negotiates with net manufacturers to place an order for nets suited to local needs, which may vary in size, color, and insecticide.
Producing, shipping, and transporting nets: Nets are manufactured and shipped to regional warehouses.
Visiting households: AMF’s partners visit households to determine how many nets are needed.
Some of these steps are practical requirements for conducting a distribution, such as ordering and shipping nets to the relevant location. Other steps increase the impact of the distribution. Though 23 months may seem like a long lead time, it enables AMF to coordinate with in-country groups, identify the highest-need areas, order the quantities and types of nets that are most suitable for those areas, and select partners that can conduct high-quality distributions and monitoring. We believe that the overall impact of donations is much greater than they would be if