Many of us want to make a difference in the world, to take actions that have a real positive impact.
The great news is that your donations can do an astonishing amount of good.
However, not all giving opportunities are equal: you can have hundreds of times more impact depending on where you give.
When you care about solving the world's most pressing problems, it’s natural to ask the question: “Where can my donations do the most good?”.
Our current top recommendation for most donors is to donate through Effective Altruism Funds.
It’s easy, and lets you support the grantmaking of experts in many promising fields.
Keep scrolling to find our list of top recommended individual charities.
1. Identify a promising problem to solve. We find that the most promising problems are generally:
- Bigger (affecting many lives, by a lot)
- More tractable (showing clear ways of making progress)
- Less crowded (needing more funding, lots of low-hanging fruit)
2. Choose an excellent organisation working to solve the problem: We look for indicators like robust evidence, cost-effectiveness, transparency, room for funding, and track record.
3. Pick an efficient way to donate: Try getting your donation matched by your employer, salary sacrifice your donations, set up a recurring donation, use a local grantmaking organisation, or donate using a fund.
Cause selection and charity evaluation are a difficult task for most donors to do on their own. To help you get started we’ve put together our giving recommendations.
Contents What are the best charities to donate to in 2021?
- How to donate effectively
- Our effective giving recommendations
- Questions? Need help?
The right giving opportunity for you will depend greatly on your particular values and circumstances. The following recommendations are roughly in order of ease and applicability to most people.
For most people, we recommend donating using a donation regranting fund that's focused on charity effectiveness.
Funds strike a good balance between being very easy for donors and highly effective. They help donors to pool their money together so that they can find outstanding giving opportunities that are evaluated by expert grantmakers and charity evaluators.
Using a charity regranting fund is similar to using an investment fund instead of trying to pick which individual stocks will be the best investments.
The following funds can be donated to using Effective Altruism Funds and are tax-deductible in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands:
|Global Health and Development Fund||Effective Altruism Funds||Donate||Learn More|
|Animal Welfare Fund||Effective Altruism Funds||Donate||Learn More|
|Long-Term Future Fund||Effective Altruism Funds||Donate||Learn More|
|EA Infrastructure Fund||Effective Altruism Funds||Donate||Learn More|
|Maximum Impact Fund||GiveWell||Donate||Learn More|
|Center on Long-Term Risk Fund||Center on Long-Term Risk||Donate||Learn More|
|Climate Change Fund||Founders Pledge||Donate||Learn More|
|ACE’s Recommended Charity Fund||Animal Charity Evaluators||Donate||Learn More|
The best donation advice will vary based on personal circumstances, such as the country you live in (our community has members from 96 countries).
The following grantmaking organisations help donors from around the world to support outstanding charities individually, or to pool their donations together to direct funding to where it is most needed.
Please bear in mind that some giving opportunities can be hundreds of times more effective than others, so it might be best to donate abroad while incurring international fees and missing out on a tax deduction if you believe the international organisation will do more to improve the lives of others.
|EA Funds||Various||United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands|
|GiveWell||Global Health & Development||United States, Netherlands|
|Animal Charity Evaluators||Animal Welfare||United States, Netherlands|
|Long-Term Risk Fund||Long-Term Future||Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands|
|Effective Altruism Australia||Global Health & Development||Australia|
|Effective Altruism New Zealand||Global Health & Development||New Zealand|
|The Life You Can Save||Global Health & Development||United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands|
|Fundación Ayuda Efectiva||Global Health & Development||Spain|
|Gi effektivt||Global Health & Development||Norway|
|Ge effektivt||Global Health & Development||Sweden|
Another easy way of donating to highly effective charities is to follow the advice of charity evaluators who prioritise effectiveness in their charity reviews. We recommend checking out the following evaluators:
- GiveWell (Global Health & Development)
- Animal Charity Evaluators (Animal Welfare)
- Founders Pledge (Various Cause Areas)
You can donate to many of the charities they recommend in one place using EA Funds.
It can be valuable to do your own research to find excellent giving opportunities. If you’re going to do your own research, decide how much research to do based on (a) how much you’re giving; and (b) how much you might give in the future. If you’re giving a lot now, or in the future it can be worth the time invested.
If you’re donating to individual charities we also recommend discussing your options with other people interested in effective giving (such as the Giving What We Can community), looking at the research conducted by charity evaluators, and reading our guide on how to evaluate charities.
We recommend donations to the following selected high-impact non-profit organisations. These highly effective charities are selected in collaboration with our evaluation partners and Effective Altruism Funds.
Our recommendations cover a mix of different causes and range from opportunities with robust evidence to some that are more speculative (but potentially higher impact).
You can also use the Effective Altruism Funds platform to donate directly to most of these charities and non-profit organisations.
We regularly update this list of good charities to donate to if you want your donation to do the most good:
Meta-charities can make a big indirect impact, multiplying the effect of your donation.
Instead of directly helping improve the lives of others with direct interventions (e.g. distributing bednets), they take an indirect approach. This could include promoting effective giving (e.g. Giving What We Can), conducting research into charity effectiveness (e.g. GiveWell), or conducting research into global priorities (e.g. Forethought Foundation).
For example, GiveWell, whose main meta-activity is cost-effectiveness research, tracks their "money moved." For every $1 they spend on research, they influence roughly $30 in donations to their top charities. Learn more about meta-charities.
The following meta-charities can be donated to using Effective Altruism Funds:
- 80,000 Hours
- Animal Charity Evaluators
- Center on Long-Term Risk
- Centre for Effective Altruism
- Charity Entrepreneurship
- Forethought Foundation
- Happier Lives Institute
- Giving What We Can
- Rethink Charity
- Rethink Priorities
This interactive chart shows which organisations Giving What We Can members donate to (by number of members who have donated to the organisation).
Donors with specific needs and more money to give can benefit from working with a philanthropic advisor such as Longview Philanthropy. Startup founders may also consider taking the Founders Pledge (they also provide philanthropic advice to their members).
Donating money from your estate to effective charities could help you to leave behind an incredible legacy.
Leaving a gift in your will to charity is typically called a bequest, but can also be known as planned giving. Learn more about making a bequest.
If you’ve made it this far, we hope you’re inspired to give more, and to give more effectively.
Join the Giving What We Can community by taking a pledge to donate a meaningful portion of your income to help improve the lives of others. It can help you to live up to your values, meet like-minded people, and inspire others to follow suit.
Not ready to pledge? You can also donate to an effective charity, sign up to our newsletter, read our blog, attend an event, join an effective altruism group, or get in touch if you’d like to discuss anything.
If you've got any questions, or you need some assistance, we're more than happy to help out! Please get in touch via our contact page, and we'll respond as quickly as possible.