Most people who live in high-income countries don’t realize how much better off they are than people living in poverty by global standards. If you earn $50,000 a year, that puts you in the top 2% of global earners, earning approximately 100x what someone living in poverty would. Because money is more valuable to people when they have less of it, you can have an outsized impact by giving overseas.
Questions to consider
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of GiveWell’s methodology?
- Are there any specific aspects of GiveWell’s cost-effectiveness methodology that you disagree with?
- For yourself, how much do you think you could earn to give to GiveWell charities? How might that compare to the option of starting your own charity? How might that compare to the impact of influencing policy or aid spending?
- If you are in a high-income country:
- How Rich Am I? Find out how rich you are compared to the rest of the world (Giving What We Can, 2 mins)
- Global economic inequality (Max Roser / Our World In Data, 2022) (post - 7 mins)
- Global Health - The global distribution of the disease burden (Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser / Our World In Data) (report - 1 min)
- Everything you need to know about whether money makes you happy (Robert Wiblin, 2016) (post - 15 mins)
- Your Dollar Goes Further Overseas (GiveWell) (post - 2 mins)
- The Moral Imperative Toward Cost-Effectiveness in Global Health (Toby Ord) (essay - 10 mins)
GiveWell has a central role in the EA global health and development space.
- Introduction to GiveWell
- Impact of GiveWell's top charities (GiveWell, 2016-2017) (post - 5 mins)
- How We Produce Impact Estimates (GiveWell, 2021-2023) (post - 10 mins)
- Our Top Charities (GiveWell) (page - 3 mins)
- The nice thing about these recommendations:
- GiveWell’s analysis is detailed and transparent
- This approach relies heavily on empirical evidence and has tighter feedback loops than some EA causes.
- Avoids “white knighting”
- How not to be a “white in shining armor” (Holden Karnofsky / GiveWell, 2012-2016) (post - 3 mins)
- The argument that GiveWell’s recommendations make current people’s lives better seems relatively robust.
- The lack of controversy over well-targeted aid (Holden Karnofsky / GiveWell, 2015-2016) (post - 3 mins)
- ITN framework
- A framework for comparing global problems in terms of expected impact (Rob Wiblin / 80,000 Hours, 2016-2019) (post - 15 mins)
- Working out the best opportunities is harder than you think:
- How we evaluate a study: internal/external validity adjustment (GiveWell / Holden Karnofsky, 2012-2016) (post - 12 mins)
- For an example on why this can be hard, see this article on “worm wars”: Why I mostly believe in Worms (GiveWell / David Roodman, 2016-2021) (post - 28 mins)
- List of ways in which cost-effectiveness estimates can be misleading (Saulius Šimčikas, 2019) (post - 15 mins)
- It's not clear what moral weights should be: Approaches to Moral Weights: How GiveWell Compares to Other Actors (GiveWell, 2017) (post - 17 mins)
- Funding can "funge" or leverage other funding, which makes the analysis more complicated: Revisiting leverage (GiveWell / James Snowden, 2018) (post - 8 mins)
- It’s not clear when to use sequence thinking vs. cluster thinkin: Sequence thinking vs. cluster thinking (GiveWell / Holden Karnofsky, 2014-2016) (post - 36 mins)
- Limitations of GiveWell’s approach:
- The approach tends to be focused on directly delivering goods and services rather than other approaches.
- Here’s a specific critique of GiveWell’s analysis that GiveWell acknowledged seems important: Deworming and decay: replicating GiveWell’s cost-effectiveness analysis (Joel McGuire, Samuel Dupret, and Michael Plant, 2022) (post - 13 mins)
- Note how GiveWell responds to the criticism in the comments.
Alternatives to GiveWell
These things might be even better than GiveWell’s top charities (but are difficult to compare):
- Regulation: Public Health Regulation Update (GiveWell, 2021) (post - 12 mins)
- Scientific progress: Scientific Research (Open Philanthropy) (webpage - 3 mins)
- Economic growth: Growth and the Case Against Randomista Development (Hauke Hillebrandt and John G. Halstead) (EA Forum post - 37 min. / talk - 30 min.)
- Charity Entrepreneurship charities
- See the analysis for each charity under “Learn more”
- Note how these examples are assessed through GiveWell-style analysis.
What can you do?
Through your donations:
Through your career: