/ Social Sector / by Stefan Shaw

GiveWell: A powerful voice in the giving sector

The San Francisco-based charity evaluator GiveWell is an outlier. With the highest ethics combined with scientific rigor, it has just one goal in mind: to channel philanthropic money to the most worthy causes and generate as much impact as possible — impact in terms of actual lives saved or improved, rather than merely intended impact.

Money is not only powerful for generating impact, but can also serve as a powerful tool in assessing it. GiveWell’s evaluation work is backed by a number of reliable funders that are in it for the long haul. One of the strongest is Good Ventures, the family foundation of Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna. Reliable funding is the prerequisite for the intellectual independence necessary for true insights. This certainly applies to GiveWell, which assembles a group of outstanding minds who do not have to bow down to the personal preferences of their funders. On the contrary: they are funded precisely because they follow nothing but their ethics and intellect, thus making GiveWell one of the most profound think tanks in the giving sector.

The close alignment with Good Ventures, among others, also means that GiveWell’s recommendations often result in immediate funding. This not only makes GiveWell a powerful voice in the giving scene, but makes sure that its top charities receive the necessary funding to grow and thus deliver the most impact possible.

Why am I in the position to make such statements? GiveWell invited me to spend a couple of days at their office and let me participate in about as many talks, round-tables, and client interactions as I could handle. Their work during each and every hour of every day of my week-long stay confirmed what I had been hearing about them and reading on their blog. To sum it up: you really can trust the judgement of these people — and you definitely should!