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  • Writer's pictureCE Team

Summary of our charities’ impact


  • In 4 years our 27 charities combined have raised over $25 million USD from GiveWell, Mulago, Schmidt Futures, Open Philanthropy, Founders Pledge, and others. They have grown to over 200 staff. More here.

  • We estimate that our average co-founder creates about the equivalent impact to donating ~$380,000 USD per year to the most effective charities (i.e. GiveWell’s top picks). Notably the best 1/3rd of our founders appear to be 4 times this.

  • ~80% of our charities survive and about half of those are on track to being global field leaders.

  • Many of our charities are externally evaluated to be 20 and even 30 times as impactful per dollar as Give Directly (GD), the global benchmark, some, even more.

But where do these bold claims come from, how confident are we and how many pinches of salt should we apply?


Sources

Our charities evaluate themselves, they are evaluated by us and they are evaluated by funding organizations such as Open Philanthropy, GiveWell, Schmidt Futures, Mulago, EA Funds, ACE, and a whole range of other grantmakers, as well as independent research organizations such as Founders Pledge and Rethink Priorities. We look for convergence in conclusions. We put different weights on the conclusions of these various sources and discount their findings accordingly (as we tend to be more pessimistic and demanding than other organizations when it comes to counterfactuals, for example) and generally take a conservative view as our baseline.


What does “20 to 30 X Give Directly” mean?

One of the most well-researched and effective ways to do the greatest amount of good is to simply give cash directly to the poorest people on earth. Very few charities’ work is more effective than this. Often charities target better off people, help fewer of them and give them less benefits than what they could have accomplished had the funding just gone to the poorest.


So we aim to start organizations that are at least 10 X Give Directly, more than 10 times better than one of the best ways to do good.


4 of our charities as examples

  • Family Empowerment Media (FEM): Uses radio messaging to educate people (to date 15 million) in Nigeria on family planning to avert maternal deaths. Founders Pledge independently concluded they are 26 X Give Directly. FEM’s own team arrived at 22 X GD. Just one 3-month pilot correlated with a 75% increase in contraceptive uptake and this alone is estimated to avert 200 deaths. Rethink Priorities estimate that FEM can be even 60 X more effective than cash transfers.

  • Lead Exposure Elimination Project (LEEP): Drives policies to eliminate lead poisoning, particularly in children, from paints in countries without lead paint regulation. In their first pilot they convinced the Malawian government to implement lead paint regulation and this is estimated to reduce exposure in ~215,000 children. Founders Pledge places their cost-effectiveness at $1 to prevent one child’s lead exposure (in expectation). LEEP’s team estimates the cost-effectiveness of their pilot at $14 per extra year of life at full health. That’s 59 X Give Directly*.

  • Fortify Health (FH): Works with major flour mills in India, adding vital micronutrients such as folic acid and iron to reduce anemia in children at massive scale. Their work has been meticulously scrutinized and then funded (>$10M USD) by GiveWell. They are projected to be 11 X Give Directly (see previous GiveWell estimation here).

  • Shrimp Welfare Project (SWP): Shrimp may seem an unlikely charity focus, but it’s plausible these sentient creatures can and do suffer pain. They are cruelly farmed in many billions, so reducing their suffering could reduce massive quantities of pain globally. The Shrimp Welfare Project is the first ever organization that targets this issue. They have already signed 11 Memoranda of Understanding with relevant stakeholders that may lead to improving the lives of >2.5 billion shrimp per annum. It’s early days, but with 625 shrimp potentially helped per dollar spent (their internal estimation), SWP could become the most cost-effective animal advocacy organization in the world.


Conclusion


We should be extremely careful of taking these estimates as anything other than very rough best guesses. As with all evaluations, a program’s impact will change with location, context, scale, and many other factors. Many of our charities are scaling fast. LEEP is now in 10 countries, FEM will reach 50 million listeners and FH is expanding from 40 to 100 flour mills. With growth can come economies of scale but also reductions in cost-effectiveness. We will continue to update as we learn more.


Thanks so much for your interest in our work. We’re ambitious about using our careers to do a lot of good and we hope you are too. We’d love for you to apply even if you’re still unsure. You’re not supposed to feel ready right now. That’s what the program is for!


Want to get involved or learn more? Check out the program here.


And find more details here on How our charities are progressing.


*“Making all three changes (and assuming two years of impact persistence) leads to cost-effectiveness of approximately 60x.”

**Applying a unit conversion to a CEA by GiveWell, we find that GiveDirectly has a cost-effectiveness of approximately $836 per DALY-equivalent averted. (It’s important to bear in mind that this comparison is not exactly like for like, since GiveDirectly’s program has been studied extensively and is operating at a much larger scale than LEEP’s.). 836/14 = 59.


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