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Nearly eight years ago, Hauke Hillebrandt wrote the following:

Sometimes people ask us about the effectiveness of donating to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Global Financial Integrity, Tax Justice, or Transparency International - these all seem like organisations that could potentially be very effective, but we don’t currently even have a good idea about their relative strengths and weaknesses, how they would spend additional money, if they work in areas of the advocacy space that are not already very crowded, and if they are working on causes that at least appear tractable.

About three years ago, Hillebrandt and John G. Halstead wrote a popular essay where they argue, in effect, that effective altruism neglects interventions that could contribute to economic growth in low-income countries. Such interventions, I imagine, would at least partially be through advocacy organizations whose impact cannot easily be measured using randomized controlled trials. Indeed, Hillebrandt and Halstead suggested that "research and advocacy for growth-friendly economic policies can often be orders of magnitude more cost-effective than direct funding of evidence-based interventions."

In animal welfare and existential risk, advocacy is often the best or only intervention. This is not the case in global health and development, at least in the short-term. However, this does not necessarily mean that there are no cost-effective advocacy organizations working in this cause area which effective altruists should support. I am personally even interested in donating to such charities. So my question is: what are some policy advocacy organizations working in global health and development that seem (potentially) cost-effective?

Thank you in advance for your reply and for the high quality of the responses I get on this forum.




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Global health policy 

Mostly EA policy research in global development has stuck to health policy.

There is a bunch of research within the field of global health policy. Some good (independently evaluated / granted to by EA-aligned organisations) places to give are:

  • Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention, CPSP
  • IPEN (Lead policy)
  • Vital Strategies (Alcohol policy)
  • Pure Earth (Lead Policy)

All of which are listed here: https://www.givewell.org/research/public-health-regulation-update-August-2021 with GiveWell's reasoning for thinking it is effective.

You might also be interested in

  • Lead Exposure Elimination Project, LEEP

Listed here: https://founderspledge.com/stories/lead-exposure-elimination-project-leep with Founders Pledge reasoning for thinking it is effective

Policy – beyond just health policy

Beyond health policy (on growth, trade, corruption, immigration, freedom, human rights, etc) mostly EA organisations have not found any good places to donate.

This is (in my view) mostly due to a lack of anyone trying. But there have been at least some high quality efforts (e.g. on economic growth and civil conflict prevention) to find good donation places that have not bared fruit.

Founders Pledge do recommend:

  • Innovation in Government Initiative, a part of JPAL that may do some of this kind of stuff

See their report at: https://founderspledge.com/stories/evidence-based-policy-executive-summary


Hope that helps


The Asia Foundation has had some impressive results: https://asiafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Coalitions-for-Change-Program-overview_2021.pdf

LEEP (https://leadelimination.org/) comes to mind, although they are still a very young organisation so less established than bigger organisations in this space. Their cost-effectiveness looks great, though, if that's what you mostly care about. They advocate for policies to limit the exposure to toxic lead (e.g. in paint).

Is there a particular country or region that you prefer the advocacy work target/take place in (e.g. U.S., E.U., A.U., Asia, Africa, Latin America, etc.)?

Not really, I was just curious in general which advocacy organizations some effective altruists might have identified as promising. (Although I imagine that advocacy work that benefits the world's poorest people would of course make the biggest difference, but that would probably also be the most challenging type of advocacy)

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