December 1, 2014, is an early, secular Christmas for effective altruists, because today is the day the charity prioritization organizations GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators published their new recommendations!
Of particular relevance to us are the recommendations of GiveWell because we committed in our planning for 2015 and maybe beyond to supporting the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and did so at a time when GiveWell’s demotion of AMF for reasons of limited room for more funding had still been in effect. Our research indicated that since the time of the downgrading, AMF had successfully disproved GiveWell’s wider concerns and successfully allocated substantial amounts of its funding. Because of these developments, AMF’s exemplary combination of minimal uncertainties and extreme cost-effectiveness, as well as a few marginal factors, we’ve opted to put all our efforts into supporting AMF. Today, GiveWell has vindicated our decision.
You can donate to the Against Malaria Foundation through their website and in particular through our page. (Also linked to the right.)
In GiveWell’s blog article on the ratings update, it now recommends that of every $7.5 given, the donors allocate $5 to AMF with the remaining $2.5 divvied up (not evenly) among the other three top charities.
One reason for this great advantage is GiveWell’s restored faith in the ability of AMF to convert large amounts of donation money into accountably distributed mosquito nets. The foundation estimates that it has potential forthcoming distributions of nets at a total value of $36 million, and GiveWell trusts that if $10 million can be raised until April, AMF will be soon able to commit them to distributions.
Another factor is AMF’s extreme cost effectiveness in combination with the substantial evidence for it. Another top recommendation, the Deworm the World Initiative (DtWI) of Evidence Action, has a greater estimated cost-effectiveness, but its impact is fairly conceptually removed from the donations it receives, and its ability to absorb donations is also more limited. GiveDirectly, on the other hand, has a tremendous scalability and its impact is as direct and robust as it gets; the downside is that the cost-effectiveness of its program, unrestricted cash transfers, is lower by a factor (or rather divisor) of 5–10 compared to AMF’s distributions of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets. The deworming programs of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) have a cost-effectiveness comparable to that of AMF, but GiveWell had some reservations about SCI’s transparency and accounting.
While GiveWell had been undecided about whether 2013 would be such a good year to donate, it is now confident, especially with AMF restored to the top list, that this new giving period is “an excellent [one] to give a substantial amount.” GiveWell might, in the future, be able to further scale up its research, but “the world is getting better and some of the best opportunities available today (e.g., deworming, bednets, salt iodization) may no longer be available 10 years from now.” So donate quickly before we only suffer from expensive diseases anymore!
|Program estimated cost-effectiveness (relative to cash transfers)||5–10×||10–20×||1×||5–10× (and possibly more)|
|Directness and robustness of the case for impact||Strong||Weakest||Strongest||Moderate|
|Transparency and communication||Strong||Strong||Strongest||Weakest|
|Ongoing monitoring and likelihood of detecting future problems||Strong||Strong||Strongest||Weakest|
|Organizational track record of rolling out program||Moderate||Moderate||Strong||Strong|
|Room for more funding (more below)||High||Limited||Very high||Limited when accounting for all donors|
Besides the top charities, GiveWell has also made a return to publishing its list of standout charities, charities with particular potential to enter the top list in the future. These charities are DMI, GAIN-USI, ICCIDD, and Living Goods.
GiveWell will update its recommendations sooner this time, so we’ll likely have an effective altruist Easter in April 2015!
Animal Charity Evaluators, meanwhile, has promoted Animal Equality to the rank of top charity. It joins the ranks of Mercy for Animals and The Humane League. The prioritization organization has published two articles, on on the evaluation process and one one the results of this process.