If you’re making a last-minute charitable donation for the year…

by brachbach

This post will be short, but it’s really important.

If you’re making a last-minute charitable donation before January 1 comes around and you lose your chance to make a tax deduction for this year, I have a suggestion for how to spend your money. The website Givewell rates charities based on the amount of good that they are doing. Givewell’s approach is incredibly rigorous, and they are directing donors towards the best charities while simultaneously pushing forward (reinventing?) the field of charity evaluation. If it’s not clear already, I think that they are doing really, really good and important work.

Their top charities this year are: #1 Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and #2 Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI). SCI supports various kinds of deworming programs. These programs are one of the very best buys in education, because students with fewer worms get sick less and go to class more. A rigorous randomized-control study by the Poverty Action Lab at MIT in Kenya found that $100 worth of deworming program bought the equivalent of 13.9 schoolyears of increased days of school attendance. That’s just one number, and you can find a fuller analysis in Givewell’s report, but think about it: that number is mind-blowing. Compared to my favorite educational programs in the US, deworming is orders of magnitude more cost-effective.

AMF’s work is not really related to education, but they do deliver another mind-blowing number: $2000 per life saved, backed up by great evidence including randomized-control trials. If you’ve always wanted to save a life, here’s your chance.

I am truly humbled by what these charities can do with the money we give them. I’ll leave it at that, because although there is so much to say about Givewell and about these two organizations, Givewell says it much better on their website.

Happy Holidays,
Ben

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