Post by Eva Vivalt, @evavivalt.
We’ve stayed away from recommending specific charities. AidGrade gathers data from impact evaluations and analyzes that data, focusing more broadly on the effects of different types of programs and how they vary across contexts. Very few NGOs do any kind of impact evaluation, so we’re naturally a bit distant from that. Further, other organizations already have a lot to say about individual charities. Whenever someone asked me about how to best contribute to the relief efforts in the Philippines, for example, I would recommend they check out this old GiveWell post.
But people keep asking and asking for ways they can help, so we’re now letting you click through the “donate” links under “Examine a Program” and “Compare Programs by Outcome” (under the “Donors” tab), linking every type of intervention to a specific charity.
The links aren’t exact. How would you go about donating to a conditional cash transfer program, for example, when they are typically run by governments? You might think that some kinds of child sponsorship programs or scholarship programs are in effect conditional cash transfers, but there remain some similarities. In the absence of a good match, AidGrade is instead directing those interested in conditional cash transfer programs to GiveDirectly, which provides unconditional cash transfers.
With this caveat, how did we come to decide which organizations to feature for each intervention?
We followed several rules of thumb:
1. It should be an organization that does the work itself instead of being largely focused on advocacy. Advocacy work can be highly important, so we may revisit this in the future, but the concern is that it’s very hard to measure when advocacy is having a real effect and our findings are on programs themselves and not on advocacy for programs. It’s simply a closer match.
2. It should be a one-program organization as much as possible, to avoid the fungibility problem whereby if an organization does 10 things, and you donate to support 1 of them, they end up redirecting funds to support the other 9.
3. Where possible, go with the clear frontrunners. For example, regarding insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria, the Against Malaria Foundation is one of the top charities of any kind recommended by both GiveWell and Giving What We Can. We look at their recommendations for charities that focus on a particular type of program.
4. All else equal, the organization should care about evaluation, like Evidence Action does.
These rules of thumb can sometimes conflict, but we adhered as closely as we could. The image attached to this post is misleading: nothing is so pristine as the straight road pictured. Undoubtedly, some of our matches are inexact, but it’s a step in the right direction. Bear in mind, since we are trying to link all the programs to specific NGOs, we are even providing links for those programs which don’t seem to be the most effective at achieving a particular goal.
That said, here are the matches we came up with. Would you suggest anything different?
Bed nets: Against Malaria Foundation
Conditional cash transfers: GiveDirectly
Deworming: Evidence Action: DeWorm the World
Improved cookstoves: Global Village Energy Partnership
Safe Water Storage: Evidence Action: Dispensers for Safe Water
School Meals: World Food Programme
Unconditional cash transfers: GiveDirectly
Water Treatment: Evidence Action: Dispensers for Safe Water
Coming soon: new topics!