Tag Archives: GiveWell internal metrics

GiveWell’s 2021 metrics report

In 2021, GiveWell directed the largest amount of money in our history, over $500 million, which we believe will be beneficial or life saving to many people in need. We thank our donors for continuing to trust us to find and recommend some of the most highly cost-effective giving opportunities in the world.
Note that this year, we’ve also updated our metrics report to more clearly communicate about our work. Previously, we reported on our “money moved,” a metric that tried to provide a composite picture of both the funds we raised and directed in a given year. However, starting with our 2021 report, we’ll be reporting on these metrics separately as “funds raised” and “funds directed,” which we believe will be simpler and clearer.
The following tables summarize our funds raised and funds directed in 2021:

This represents a significant increase in the funds we raise on a yearly basis, from only $11 million in 2012 to $595 million in 2021.

You’ll note that our funds directed in 2021 is about $66 million lower than our funds raised. The funds we raised that were not directed include:

“Contingency funds” committed to charities under particular grant agreements but only paid out under certain conditions of the grant. (If those conditions are not met, we reallocate the funding to other opportunities.)
“Rollover funds” saved for grantmaking in future years.
Maximum Impact Fund donations raised in a given metrics year but allocated in the following year (these appear as funds directed in the following year).
Unrestricted funds raised in a given metrics year but not spent on operations or granted out to charities in that year (these appear as funds directed in the year they are allocated).

For more information, please see our full report.
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An update on GiveWell’s funding projections

As little as six months ago, we were in the position of having more funding available than we could spend on opportunities that met our very high cost-effectiveness bar. Today, the opposite is true—we don’t expect to have enough funding to support all the cost-effective opportunities we find.
In this post we will:

provide an update on GiveWell’s projected funding position,
explain how we have been successful in identifying cost-effective opportunities, and
share our initial thoughts about what this update means for GiveWell’s forward-looking grantmaking strategy.

The state of funding
We wrote last year that we would roll over approximately $110 million in funding from 2021 to spend this year. We ultimately rolled over substantially less because we were imprecise in calculating our projected funds in and out (more details available on our mistakes page). But at a high level, it remained true that we received more money than we chose to spend on highly cost-effective funding opportunities.
We expected to be in a similar position this year, rolling over approximately $110 million. We now believe that we will be funding constrained. There are two core reasons for this:

We found a lot more cost-effective opportunities that need funding. Based on our current research pipeline, we think we’ll be able to recommend up to approximately $750 million in grants that are at least 6x as cost-effective as cash transfers.1We compare charities (and funding opportunities within them) using multiples of our estimate for the impact of directly transferring cash to beneficiaries. For example, we describe an opportunity as “6x cash” to indicate that we think it’s six times as cost-effective as giving that amount in cash directly to the beneficiary. There’s an intuitive case for asking whether a program is better than what beneficiaries would buy for themselves using cash. If not, wouldn’t it be better to just give them cash instead? Any program we consider must exceed this standard and be multiple times better than cash in order for us to recommend it. jQuery(‘#footnote_plugin_tooltip_13763_1_1’).tooltip({ tip: ‘#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_13763_1_1’, tipClass: ‘footnote_tooltip’, effect: ‘fade’, predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: ‘top right’, relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); Last year, we identified about $500 million in grants, most of which were at least 8x.
We think we will receive less money than we projected due to recent

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Our recommendations for giving in 2021

You can have a remarkable impact by supporting cost-effective, evidence-based charities.
Just looking at the approximately $100 million[1] GiveWell had discretion to grant in 2020—a subset of all the money we directed to the charities we recommend—the impact of our donors is impressive. We estimate these grants will:

Save more than 24,000 lives
Treat over 6 million children with a full course of antimalarial medication
Provide vitamin A supplementation to over 8.6 million children
Deliver over 4.4 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to protect against malaria
Vaccinate 118,000 children
Treat over 11.4 million children for parasitic worms

We’re grateful for your support and interest in our work, and we’re excited to share our recommendations and updates on our recent research. We hope you consider donating to some of the truly outstanding charities we recommend.

Summary

We continue to recommend the same excellent top charities.
Our top recommendation: GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund
GiveWell’s evolving role
How our research teams have increased our room for more funding

Our top charities team identified many more cost-effective funding opportunities in 2021.
Our new interventions team identified a number of promising new program areas to support.
We finalized three initial focus areas for high-leverage work within public health regulation and investigated grants in each of those areas.

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Updates to our impact estimates
Giving unrestricted funding
How to give efficiently
Ways to learn more

We continue to recommend the same excellent top charities.
The nine charities we recommend are high-impact, cost-effective, and backed by evidence and our rigorous analysis. This year, our top charities list remains unchanged.
While our list of recommendations is the same, we have made major strides in our research identifying new giving opportunities within our top charities. We expect to direct about $300 million to our top charities in 2021, compared to about $180 million in 2020. More detail on this below.
We’ve also made major strides in identifying new opportunities that are as cost-effective as current top charities, and expect to grant about $130 million to new interventions this year. We expect to continue that work in 2022.
Our top recommendation: GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund
Our Maximum Impact Fund remains our top recommendation for donors who want to do as much good as possible with their gift. As always, we take no fees, and grant from our Maximum Impact Fund on a quarterly basis to the opportunities where we believe additional donations will help the most.
Cost-effectiveness varies

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GiveWell’s money moved in 2020

2020 was another year of tremendous growth. GiveWell donors contributed over $240 million to our recommended charities (our “2020 money moved”), a 60% increase from the approximately $150 million we directed in 2019. This is part of an exciting, long-term trend. Just a decade ago, in 2010, GiveWell’s total money moved was $1.5 million.[1]
We believe these donations will save tens of thousands of lives and benefit many others. This incredible impact would not be possible without the continued support and generosity of our donors. While our research enables us to identify and recommend highly cost-effective giving opportunities, our donors are responsible for turning those recommendations into real change for some of the poorest individuals in the world.
This post lays out highlights from our final 2020 money moved report and shares more details about how donors gave to GiveWell’s recommended charities in 2020.[2]

Summary of influence: In 2020, GiveWell influenced charitable giving in several ways. The following table summarizes our understanding of this influence.

Headline money moved: In 2020, we confidently tracked $244 million in money moved to our recommended charities, and via our GiveWell Incubation Grants program. This amount, which we call “headline money moved,” only counts donations that we are confident were influenced by our recommendations. This includes the grants we make through the Maximum Impact Fund. See Appendix 1 of our 2020 metrics report for additional details on how we calculate our money moved.
We also estimate that we are responsible for an additional $3 million in donations, but we are unable to attribute these donations directly to GiveWell. Because we are more uncertain about this influence, we do not include this amount in our “headline money moved” figure but include it in our “best guess of total money directed to charities” figure. [3]
The chart below shows the breakdown of our headline money moved into the following categories: grants that Open Philanthropy made to our recommended charities, donations from other donors to our recommended charities, and Incubation Grants. Please note that Open Philanthropy support (marked in gray) does not include funding it provided for GiveWell Incubation Grants, which are shown separately in purple. [4]

Money moved by charity (excluding Incubation Grants): Our nine top charities received the majority of our money moved. Our nine standout charities received a total of $2.2 million.

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Early signs show that you gave more in 2020 than 2019—thank you!

Our donor community appears to have given significantly more in 2020 than 2019, according to early data on donations we processed.
Growth was strong relative to previous years—even 2019, which also had strong growth—and across many different dimensions. Overall, donations to GiveWell more than doubled in 2020.
We estimate that these donations will collectively save more than 12,000 lives; provide over 2 million deworming treatments to children, leading to an approximate increase in that group’s lifetime earnings of more than $21 million; and deliver almost 3,000 cash transfers to low-income households. For simplicity, the impact estimates in this paragraph exclude some donation types, and so don’t represent the full impact of donations to GiveWell in 2020.[1]
“Donations to GiveWell” refers to donations that we received directly:

It includes donations to GiveWell for our recommended organizations—including for the Maximum Impact Fund—and unrestricted funding, which may be used for our operations.[2]
It excludes donations that were made directly to our recommended organizations (via their own donation platforms) as a direct result of our research, or to other groups that accept donations for GiveWell and/or our recommended organizations, since we don’t yet have complete information about those donations.[3] It also excludes GiveWell Incubation Grant funding.[4] Most donations from Open Philanthropy, a major philanthropic grantmaker with which we work closely, are part of this excluded category because they were made directly to our recommended organizations.[5]We expect these excluded donations to account for a large proportion of total funding we influenced last year. For example, in 2019, we received $54.9 million in “donations to GiveWell.” When we received complete information about donations made directly to our recommended organizations or groups supporting them due to our research, and included them in our assessment of our influence, the amount of money we tracked increased to $155.1 million.[6]

While this post is only a preliminary look at our donors’ collective giving last year, the early signs show incredible growth. Thank you to our donor community!
The takeaway: donations to GiveWell more than doubled
We received more than twice as much funding in 2020 as we did in 2019.
Please click to see larger image.
All amounts are rounded to the nearest $100,000. This chart excludes most support from Open Philanthropy and most GiveWell Incubation Grants.[7]
A caveat: we can slice our data in many different ways. Please take care

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GiveWell’s plans for 2020

Each spring, we share our plans for the year. Here, we highlight the work we plan to do in 2020 that is most likely to help us realize our mission of identifying and directing funding to highly cost-effective giving opportunities.1This post does not include a complete accounting of everything we plan to do in 2020. In particular, it does not include work aimed at primarily internal-facing results, such as improvements to internal staff communications. jQuery(“#footnote_plugin_tooltip_1”).tooltip({ tip: “#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_1”, tipClass: “footnote_tooltip”, effect: “fade”, fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: “top right”, relative: true, offset: [10, 10] }); We focus on three projects:

Expanding into new areas of research.
Searching for new, cost-effective funding opportunities in our traditional research areas.
Building our donor community.

Sharing our annual plans and publicly reflecting back on them a year later is our typical practice. This year, of course, is atypical. The plans we laid out internally at the beginning of the year have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The plans we share in this post take the pandemic into account, but we are more uncertain than usual about what will happen in 2020. We expect that much of our work will go forward as anticipated, but we will be flexible if there are unforeseen disruptions or changes to our research agenda that result from the pandemic.
Expanding into new areas of research
Grants in response to the pandemic
We have already expanded into a new area of work in 2020: grantmaking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t typically focus on high-uncertainty, short-timeline reviews of funding opportunities. However, we think that we should be open to making grants in a lower-information environment due to the potentially severe consequences of the pandemic in low- and middle-income countries, where we focus our work, and that acting sooner may be more impactful in preventing the spread of the disease. As of the publication of this post, we’ve made three grants for COVID-19 mitigation.
We plan to consider whether there are additional grants we should make in response to the pandemic. We will make these grants if we believe they are more cost-effective than the opportunities to which we would otherwise direct funds.
Prioritizing within public health regulation
We began this year with the goal of clarifying which areas were most promising within public health regulation, a relatively new-to-GiveWell domain that we see as potentially highly cost-effective but that

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Reflecting on our progress in 2019

GiveWell grew significantly in 2019. We hired 13 full-time staff members, bringing our total size to 37, and expanded our ability to take on new projects across domains. We feel positioned to do more and better work going forward as a result.
We see a strong indication that the amount of funding we directed to our recommended charities increased last year, too. While we haven’t reconciled all giving from 2019, the value of donations we processed increased by about 30% in 2019.
We’re proud of what we accomplished in 2019. We also fell short of some goals last year. Most notably, we failed to make as much progress as we planned in researching new areas of global health and poverty alleviation.
This blog post provides a brief look at our key successes and failures last year. A more detailed accounting of how our progress in 2019 compared to the goals we set is available on this page.
Successes
Hiring new staff
Years of planning for our needs and recruiting efforts culminated in hiring 13 new staff to join our small team in 2019. GiveWell ended last year over 50% bigger than it was at the end of 2018.
We hired across the domains of our work: seven joined the research team, two joined the outreach team, three joined the operations team, and one will serve as Managing Director. We expect each staff member will enable us to accomplish more and achieve better outcomes across these key areas of our work. Below, we highlight a few senior hires whom we expect to help steer the direction of our work.

Managing Director. We hired Neil Buddy Shah as our first Managing Director in late 2019. Buddy will work closely with GiveWell’s CEO Elie Hassenfeld to set GiveWell’s high-level strategy. He will also engage with the international development community to learn from and contribute to discussions of how to do as much good as possible and to identify promising funding opportunities. We expect Buddy to start at GiveWell this summer.
Research. We’ve been looking to hire senior researchers to expand our ability to assess new types of evidence since 2016. We described in early 2019 how our research is evolving and how we hoped to hire additional experienced researchers to enable us to do this work. We hired Alex Cohen and Teryn

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