Many people make charitable donations in December. If you’re considering making a gift in the coming weeks and you want more information before doing so, we’re happy to help!
We’re glad to answer questions in writing and on the phone. For written responses, please email email@example.com or leave a comment on this blog post. For a phone call, please fill out this form to request a call with a GiveWell staff member.
We’re happy to field questions on topics like:
which organizations we recommend most highly today and why,
the pros and cons of different donation methods,
the tax deductibility of different giving options and the implications of the CARES Act for U.S. donors,
support for logistical questions about making a donation,
additional details on the Maximum Impact Fund, our top recommendation for donors,
We hope to hear from you!
The post Do you have questions about giving in 2020? appeared first on The GiveWell Blog.
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
Lots of charities run matching campaigns with claims like “Give today and double your impact!” We’re generally skeptical of these claims, which are true only if the matching donor would not have otherwise given to the charity.
We guess that many donors who are motivated to make a large gift to charity (as donors who put up funding for matches typically are) would do so whether or not their support is matched by others. What may often be happening with matching campaigns, then, is that a matching donor would have given to the charity anyway but has agreed to structure their donation as a “match” for marketing purposes. We’ve written about these concerns in the past.
But we don’t think matches are inherently problematic. In fact, if executed such that the matching donor would not have given otherwise, we believe they can be highly motivating for donors.
We’re aiming to increase the amount of funding we direct each year, and we’re planning to start regularly running matching campaigns in 2020 ourselves, in the hopes of reaching new donors and learning which channels are the most successful for marketing. We plan to take extra steps to structure our matching campaigns to offer a “true” match to the extent possible.
How we’ll structure matching campaigns
In order to make a more truthful claim about matching, we plan to verify that the donors who provide matching funds for GiveWell campaigns would not have otherwise donated. We are taking the following steps to do so:
Approaching donors who have shown interest in increasing GiveWell’s reach.
Asking if they would be interested in making an additional gift this year to underwrite our matching campaigns.
Assessing their giving history and our expectation of their likely giving in 2020 so that we can see if matching funds appear additive.
Confirming with potential matching donors that we are only interested in donations they would not have otherwise made.
Communicating to potential matching donors that we will only accept their gift in the amount we are able to match from other supporters. This might mean asking the donor to wait to give until the matching campaign is complete so that we only receive the correct amount, or returning unused funds to the matching donor.
It will be impossible to say with certainty that a matching donor would not have given