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Thursday, June 13, 2024

What we fund, #1: We fund many alternatives exterior our high charities

This put up is the fourth in a multi-part sequence, protecting how GiveWell works and what we fund. We’ll add hyperlinks to the later posts right here as they’re printed. By means of these posts, we hope to present a greater understanding of what our analysis appears to be like like and the way we make selections.

GiveWell goals to search out and fund applications which have the best affect on world well-being. We’re open to funding whichever world well being and improvement alternatives appear most cost-effective. So whereas our high charities listing remains to be what we’re finest recognized for, it’s solely a part of our affect; we additionally dedicate substantial funding and analysis effort to alternatives past high charities.

In 2022, 71% of the funds we directed supported our 4 present high charities, and 29% have been directed to different applications.1That is based mostly on the funding we immediately really helpful or granted to different organizations from February 1, 2022, to January 31, 2023, in addition to funding that we consider was influenced primarily by our analysis and suggestions. Nevertheless, most of our analysis capability goes towards applications apart from our high charities. It’s because (a) most applications we direct funding to aren’t high charities (we’ve got 4 high charities however directed funding to about 40 different grantees in 2022),2See pages 15 and 16 of our 2022 metrics report.
and (b) it requires extra effort to analyze a program we all know much less deeply.

On this put up we’ll share:

  • The general scope of our grantmaking
  • Why we dedicate funding and analysis capability to applications apart from our high charities
  • The kinds of alternatives we help

You possibly can help the complete vary of our grantmaking by way of the All Grants Fund.

The scope of our work

Our analysis is targeted on world well being and improvement applications. We consider that is an space through which donations might be particularly cost-effective.

A lot of our funding goes to well being applications, particularly applications that cut back deaths from infectious ailments amongst younger kids residing in low- and middle-income nations. We’ve discovered donations to such applications could make a very massive affect; infants and younger kids are far more vulnerable to infectious illness than adults, and ailments like malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia might be prevented pretty cheaply. The proof for well being applications is commonly robust relative to different areas, and it’s extra prone to generalize from one context to a different.

Whereas the vast majority of our funding goes to applications that help little one well being, that isn’t our unique focus. For instance, we additionally take into account applications that intention to enhance family revenue or consumption, corresponding to One Acre Fund’s tree program and Bridges to Prosperity. As well as, most of the little one well being applications we help might also produce other advantages, like lowering medical prices, rising later-in-life revenue, or bettering grownup well being.

Why make grants exterior high charities?

Our high charities proceed to be our high suggestions for donors who prioritize confidence of their giving. They’ve robust observe information of delivering applications at massive scale and the capability to soak up extra funding, and we’ve adopted their work for years.

We’ve such strict standards for high charities that we’d be limiting our affect if we solely really helpful funding to them. Some extremely cost-effective applications may not meet these standards, and we don’t wish to artificially constrain the affect we are able to have. For instance, r.i.ce.’s kangaroo mom care program isn’t working at a big sufficient scale and we haven’t funded it lengthy sufficient for it to be a high charity. Nevertheless, we expect this system will cost-effectively enhance the lives of low-birthweight infants, so we made a grant to help it.

Initially, our non-top charity grantmaking was confined to incubating new high charities. We had some success with that technique; for instance, we made seven “incubation grants” to help New Incentives earlier in its improvement earlier than finally naming it a high charity. A number of the different applications we fund now may grow to be high charities sooner or later. However, most of the grants we suggest are excellent alternatives that we don’t essentially consider will ever grow to be high charities. This is likely to be as a result of the advantages of this system are too unsure (e.g., deworming) or as a result of this system can’t be scaled flexibly sufficient (e.g., technical help supplied to governments to help high-quality program implementation till governments can preserve it on their very own). We wish to help these avenues for affect too!

The spectrum of alternatives we fund

Beneath, we spotlight a number of the kinds of alternatives we’ve supported. These classes aren’t mutually unique or complete, however give a broad sense of alternatives we suggest.

A few of our funding goes to interventions or organizations which can be newer to us in areas we’re already acquainted with. For instance, two of our high charities (the In opposition to Malaria Basis and Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program) concentrate on malaria prevention, however we’re additionally reviewing and funding different ways for stopping malaria, corresponding to perennial malaria chemoprevention and vaccines. Different funding goes to areas that we haven’t been researching as lengthy, like water high quality (right here and right here) or maternal and neonatal well being (right here and right here).

Incubating new applications

Generally, we examine applications within the educational literature that appear doubtlessly cost-effective however that aren’t presently being applied at scale. With extremely aligned accomplice organizations, we are able to scope thrilling alternatives collectively, then these companions can pilot and scale probably the most promising ones.

We’ve funded two of those partnerships: Proof Motion’s Accelerator and the Clinton Well being Entry Initiative (CHAI)’s Incubator. We’re contemplating a wide range of potential applications throughout these two partnerships. To this point, we’ve made two grants to Proof Motion for a syphilis screening and therapy program that began throughout the Accelerator (see grant pages right here and right here). We’ve additionally made one grant to CHAI for a program that distributes oral rehydration answer and zinc for diarrhea therapy; that grant may even help a randomized managed trial to evaluate this system’s affect.

Funding applications with excessive anticipated worth however extra uncertainty

Some applications could also be as cost-effective as our high charities, or much more cost-effective, however they aren’t backed by robust sufficient proof for us to listing them as high charities (see the second criterion right here).

For instance, we’ve supported deworming applications for a few years, and we estimate them to be extremely cost-effective: deworming applications are very cheap, and we expect there’s a small probability they could result in massive revenue positive factors later in life. So, we proceed to fund deworming applications the place they give the impression of being competitively cost-effective, regardless of our uncertainty concerning the affect (as described in this 2016 weblog put up).

Strengthening organizations

It may be laborious for nonprofits to boost sufficient unrestricted funding. We’re open to supporting notably promising organizations to strengthen their very own operations (slightly than simply to hold out particular applications), thus enabling them to have extra affect over the long run.

In April 2023, we really helpful a grant to IRD World for organizational help. We hope this funding will allow IRD to handle organizational challenges and suggest extra work we’re excited to fund (we’re already funding IRD’s program to advertise childhood vaccination in Pakistan). We equally really helpful an unrestricted grant to Proof Motion in 2019, and we’ve funded a number of of its applications since then, together with the Accelerator and water chlorination applications talked about above.

Seizing excellent one-off alternatives

Generally we make grants to help comparatively low-cost alternatives that appear plausibly high-impact however that we haven’t investigated as deeply. Our senior grantmakers can collectively suggest a complete of as much as $10 million in “small discretionary grants” annually (extra particulars right here). The case for these grants is commonly primarily qualitative, like this grant for analysis on the potential spillover results from unconditional money transfers or this grant for youth empowerment fellowships.

Supporting authorities partnerships

A number of the alternatives we fund are for technical help, through which a corporation works intently with the federal government to help the high-quality implementation of a government-run program. Most of the organizations we fund—together with all of our high charities—work with governments in some capability; that collaboration is the core of technical help applications.

We’ve really helpful two grants to Proof Motion for a program supporting syphilis screening and therapy in Liberia, Cameroon, and Zambia (see grant pages right here and right here). Proof Motion works with governments to change from HIV-only exams to twin HIV-syphilis exams as a part of routine antenatal care, and to reliably present antibiotic therapy when folks take a look at optimistic.

Switching to a twin take a look at and offering penicillin may appear comparatively easy, however there are numerous elements to the method. For instance, substantial logistical coordination is required earlier than penicillin might be administered to sufferers:

  • The federal government must buy penicillin from producers.
  • The penicillin must be shipped to the nation, then well timed transportation to particular person well being facilities is required to restrict stockouts.
  • Workers on the well being facilities have to be educated to teach sufferers and administer the medicine.
  • And, lastly, sufferers have to be keen to just accept the therapy.

Ministries of Well being are sometimes constrained by lack of funding and employees capability, such that help from companions like Proof Motion is effective.

Studying extra about applications

We generally make grants in an effort to study extra a couple of specific well being program. After we discover a promising new program, we examine it earlier than making a grant, however we don’t intention to definitively reply each open query; that wouldn’t be possible. Furthermore, some applications could also be pretty new, might have been applied solely on a small scale, or might have a relatively skinny base of proof supporting their effectiveness. In such circumstances, our grants could also be geared toward studying extra.

Funding monitoring and analysis

In 2023, we really helpful a grant to MiracleFeet to implement its clubfoot program. This program is completely different from most others we fund—it’s a well being program, however it’s for therapy slightly than prevention, and clubfoot is a incapacity slightly than a doubtlessly deadly illness. On the time we made the grant, we estimated that MiracleFeet’s applications have been near however barely under our commonplace cost-effectiveness bar. However we thought that we may study extra as we adopted alongside after making a grant. We wished to see what number of further kids acquired therapy on account of this system, so we funded a monitoring and analysis grant together with the implementation grant in an effort to particularly handle that query.

Funding rigorous trials

In different circumstances, we fund analysis, usually however not solely randomized managed trials, to generate further educational proof a couple of program. That analysis might be priceless to us in additional confidently deciding which alternatives to suggest sooner or later, and it additionally provides to the scholarly literature obtainable on this system.

For instance, in 2023 we supported a randomized managed trial to measure how a lot using oral rehydration answer (ORS) and zinc will increase when they’re supplied free to households. We predict offering ORS and zinc is a promising approach to cut back childhood mortality from diarrhea, however we aren’t but positive how successfully we are able to enhance utilization. So, along with funding the Clinton Well being Entry Initiative to implement this program in Bauchi, Nigeria, we’re funding an impartial analysis to measure its results on utilization in order that we are able to kind a stronger view on this system’s cost-effectiveness and take into account whether or not to increase and scale our help.


For a full view of grants we’ve really helpful, see this desk, which is up to date as we publish grant pages.

If you happen to’re excited to help applications like these, we suggest our All Grants Fund, which fits to the alternatives we expect are most impactful, no matter program or location.

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