We review our recommended charities every six months. Currently, we list charities in the areas of poverty alleviation, animal welfare, and risks from emerging technologies as these are considered high-priority within the effective altruism community. The selections are based on a shortlist compiled from recommendations made by GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators as well as reports and grants from the Open Philanthropy Project and recommendations from the Foundational Research Institute. The final charities are picked by representatives of Raising for Effective Giving, the affiliated Effective Altruism Foundation, and the affiliated Foundational Research Institute. The criteria this group considers are: (1) what is the scale of the problem tackled by the charity; (2) how neglected is the problem and the approach of the charity; (3) is the solution sufficiently tractable; (4) can the charity absorb additional funds. Their judgments are informed by a suffering-focused ethics perspective while also trying to represent the effective altruism community.
Such funds are allocated every six months by the same group that selects the recommended charities: representatives of Raising for Effective Giving, the affiliated Effective Altruism Foundation, and the affiliated Foundational Research Institute. Usually funds are split between cause areas and allocated to charities we recommend. Sometimes, however, we may make grants to charities that are not among our recommended charities. Whenever that is the case, we explain our reasoning for doing so in our semi-annual reports. No money is granted to the Effective Altruism Foundation or its affiliated projects to avoid conflicts of interest.
Any attempt to rank charities according to their effectiveness will depend on value judgments. For example, people assign different values to human and nonhuman suffering. Some people discount the value of future lives more heavily than others. When advising donors we make these considerations transparent and try to find a charity that suits their particular values. The personal views of our staff and consultants on the relative effectiveness of our recommended charities are relevant when deciding to which of our recommended charities we allocate unrestricted donations as well as when we make strategic decisions.
Generally, we consider the recommended charities working on improving animal welfare or preventing risks from emerging technologies to have a higher impact than those working on alleviating global poverty. This is mainly due to the larger scale of the problem and their comparative neglectedness. Our recommended charities focusing specifically on preventing catastrophic future scenarios are currently regarded by our team and advisors as the most impactful organizations. However, there are also some who strongly value making a positive difference in the short term because influencing the future involves considerable uncertainty.
We report donations that were made via our Donation page. For these donations, we are confident that we influenced the donor’s choice of the recipient organization. In some cases, we also report donations that were not made via our website if we have been in personal contact with a donor who then made their donation directly to one of our recommended charities. Before reporting these donations we verify that the organization did indeed receive the donation. If these happen to be very large donations, we consider to what extent the donation would have been made without our advice, and whether it would have been made to one of our recommended charities. We then only report the amount we estimate we have influenced.
We often cite our fundraising multiplier (previously referred to as: “fund ratio”) as a measure of our effectiveness. But we think it’s important to acknowledge that alone, this metric isn’t complete. First, the fundraising multiplier should not be taken as a measure for our overall impact. That is best approximated by the money we have moved to effective charities minus our expenses. Second, even as a measure of effectiveness the fundraising multiplier can be ambiguous because:
- It only takes into account past performance which means it can only ever be an imperfect proxy for future performance. This is especially important for organizations in early stages or which are undergoing strategic shifts.
- A broad measure such as the fundraising multiplier lumps together donations benefiting different cause areas and charities. This means it doesn’t capture the differential effectiveness of organizations that our donors might care about.
- Sometimes there might be good reasons to accept a lower fundraising multiplier in order to have a bigger impact in the future. It would create harmful incentives if such developments were penalized by donors.
The fundraising multiplier should never be taken as the only measure to assess a fundraising strategy but it can be a useful component when comparing different charities.
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