GiveWell was created in 2007 by a group of friends working in finance. They were used to assessing companies based on results and performance. When they wanted to donate to charities themselves, they were astonished. The money flowing into charities was tracked, but there was no insight whatsoever into the impact of their work. As committed donors, the group started to investigate this thoroughly , and founded GiveWell with their own funds.

Since then, GiveWell has grown into a leading global impact research organization in the field of health and poverty reduction. They search worldwide for organizations that

  • demonstrably make the most impact per amount donated, and
  • are best able to make use of additional donations in saving or improving lives.

Every year, GiveWell spends 20,000 hours on research.  

Selection process

GiveWell works with a highly structured selection process.

GiveWell makes choices initially in accordance with the three criteria already mentioned on our home page. (see their side too for their criteria). The issues must be:

  • important (can save or improve many lives)
  • neglected (have received very little attention)
  • solvable and feasible

GiveWell works in the area of ​​global extreme poverty worldwide and its consequences on health and well-being.

GiveWell goes on then to select organizations based on these four criteria:

1. Proven effectiveness

Does the organization use scientifically proven effective interventions such as:

• giving money (cash) directly,

• deworming school-children,

• using media to provide information,

• distributing vitamin or mineral supplements,

• taking preventive measures against malaria,

• providing treatment for trachoma (which can lead to blindness)

2. Cost effectiveness

Does the organization use the resources in the best possible way? Is the impact sustainable in the long term?

3. Room for more funding

What do extra donations add? Recommendations are suspended if GiveWell is not convinced of the added value of donations, even for strong charities.

4. Transparency

Is there complete openness in all areas, also about mistakes and the lessons to be learned from them?

GiveWell’s recommendations are the result of this in-depth investigation. They distinguish between the following types of charities:

Top – Organizations which have been performing very well for years

Standout – Organizations which have already made their mark, but often for a shorter time

Potential – Organizations that are promising but have not yet proven to be effective. They are given the opportunity to develop themselves further.

You can find out how to donate to GiveWell on the Health page.