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November 2023 update: 

Sjir Hoeijmakers and colleagues at Giving What We Can have addressed this question very nicely in two posts: Overview of effective giving organisations and  GWWC's evaluations of evaluators

Original post:

We've got

And probably others (not to mention groups like Rethink Priorities, OpenPhil,  The Effective Altruism Foundation, and Good Ventures who fund these projects but also play a somewhat overlapping role).

  • Is this too many? Too few?  
  • Has there been a side-by-side comparison to establish overlaps and differences between them?
  • Has there been meta-evaluator work to establish which of the evaluators/advisors qualifies as an effective charity?

I did some cursory research this morning and didn't find anything so I figured I'd ask. Apologies if I overlooked something obvious.

Thanks in advance,




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Thanks Wes! I updated this post to link to two posts by GWWC folks on this subject.

I think Giving what We Can evaluates these evaluators, and (I think) will Finnish evaluating all of them come 2024.

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To some extent, every EA organization is a "donation advisor" in the sense that the overall project of EA is about prioritizing how to spend resources to most effectively do good in the world.  But when you get down into the details, many of these organizations have different purposes:

  • Givewell, for instance, does a lot of work to investigate individual global health charities and estimate how well each charity is actually achieving its goals.  They also do research to figure out things like how to properly compare the value of health improvements vs economic prosperity.
  • Similarly, Happier Lives Institute is (as far as I'm aware) mostly a research organization trying to understand issues related to mental health and psychological well-being.
  • By contrast, the Life You Can Save is much closer to a pure advocacy organization -- in their annual report they focus on money moved, books distributed, and ratios like "how much does it cost us in marketing expenses to move each additional $1K to effective charities".

IMO the natural structure of the EA ecosystem is to have a relatively small number of grantmaking organizations to coordinate things and maintain a high "bar" for funded projects (although I think there should be more than 1 big grantmaker; I would love to see 3-4 organizations on the scale of OpenPhil or FTX Future Fund).  Then for research organizations, I think you want lots of organizations of varying size, since there are so many different research agendas to pursue.  For pure advocacy / awareness organizations, these should probably be kept small to minimize overhead (although if you are focusing on career change like 80K, or high-net-worth-individuals like LongView Philanthropy, higher overhead is probably necessary to provide more in-depth interaction) and people should be willing to experiment with spinning up new EA-awareness-raising organizations targeting new potential audiences, then shutting them down if they don't catch on.

Nice, thanks! It sounds like you know these orgs better than I do. Superficially, if you look at their websites, you'll notice a lot of organizational isomorphism , e.g.

  • GiveWell: "We search for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar."
  • CEP: "CEP has resources on effective giving practices for individual donors and philanthropic advisors."
  • Effective Giving: "Our mission is to help major donors to find – and fund – the most promising solutions to the world’s most pressing problems." 
  • Grantmakers for Effective Philanthropy: "our community turns a hunger for more effective philanthropy into clear pathways for achieving it."
  • The Life You Can Save: "At The Life You Can Save, we make “smart giving simple” by recommending charities that save lives and improve well-being where each dollar goes the furthest."
  • Happier Lives Institute: "The Happier Lives Institute connects donors, researchers, and policymakers with the most cost-effective opportunities to increase global wellbeing."

So it seems like you know that there are substantive differences between these orgs, but at face value, they're marketing themselves in similar ways. So what I'm asking is: has there been something digestible that would articulate their similarities and differences? Has there been any effort to think about whether this is too man orgs or too few?  

(Edited to put the Effective Altruism Foundation into the funder category which I think is a better fit)

Two more organizations which try to get a narrow group of people (athletes / founders) to give to effective causes: 

One more organization trying to get the everyday person to give 1%: 

Nice, thanks! I didn't include niche groups but maybe I'd put them into a separate category if I were myself to do this work (?). Another one is https://www.effectivegivingquest.org/ for game creators 

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