What are the best charities to donate to in 2021?

Image credit: Alexandra Lammerink

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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.

How to donate effectively

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.

Our effective giving recommendations

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.

Give together, as a community

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:

NameOrganisationDonateLearn More
Global Health and Development FundEffective Altruism FundsDonateLearn More
Animal Welfare FundEffective Altruism FundsDonateLearn More
Long-Term Future FundEffective Altruism FundsDonateLearn More
EA Infrastructure FundEffective Altruism FundsDonateLearn More
Maximum Impact FundGiveWellDonateLearn More
Center on Long-Term Risk FundCenter on Long-Term RiskDonateLearn More
Climate Change FundFounders PledgeDonateLearn More
ACE’s Recommended Charity FundAnimal Charity EvaluatorsDonateLearn More

Other ways our members give as a community include donor lotteries, giving circles, and giving games.

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.

OrganisationCausesTax-deductible countries
EA FundsVariousUnited States, United Kingdom, Netherlands
GiveWellGlobal Health & DevelopmentUnited States, Netherlands
Animal Charity EvaluatorsAnimal WelfareUnited States, Netherlands
Long-Term Risk FundLong-Term FutureGermany, Switzerland, Netherlands
RC ForwardVariousCanada
Effective Altruism AustraliaGlobal Health & DevelopmentAustralia
EA FoundationVariousSwitzerland
Effective Altruism New ZealandGlobal Health & DevelopmentNew Zealand
The Life You Can SaveGlobal Health & DevelopmentUnited States, United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands
Fundación Ayuda EfectivaGlobal Health & DevelopmentSpain
Effektiv SpendenVariousGermany
Effektiv AltruismeVariousNorway
Gi effektivtGlobal Health & DevelopmentNorway
Ge effektivtGlobal Health & DevelopmentSweden
Doneer EffectiefVariousNetherlands

Follow the advice of charity evaluators

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:

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:

CharityCause AreaDonateLearn More
Albert Schweitzer Foundation (ASF)Animal WelfareDonateLearn More
Fish Welfare InitiativeAnimal WelfareDonateLearn More
Humane LeagueAnimal WelfareDonateLearn More
Good Food InstituteAnimal WelfareDonateLearn More
Wild Animal InitiativeAnimal WelfareDonateLearn More
Clean Air Task ForceClimate ChangeDonateLearn More
Against Malaria FoundationGlobal Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Charity Science (Charity Science Health)Global Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Development Media InternationalGlobal Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
END Fund (Deworming Program)Global Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Evidence Action (Deworm the World Initiative)Global Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Evidence Action (Dispensers for Safe Water)Global Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
GiveDirectlyGlobal Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Helen Keller International (VAS program)Global Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Iodine Global NetworkGlobal Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Malaria Consortium (SMC only)Global Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
New IncentivesGlobal Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Project Healthy ChildrenGlobal Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
SCI FoundationGlobal Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Sightsavers (deworming only)Global Health and DevelopmentDonateLearn More
Global Catastrophic Risk InstituteLong-Term FutureDonateLearn More
Johns Hopkins Center For Health SecurityLong-Term FutureDonateLearn More
Machine Intelligence Research InstituteLong-Term FutureDonateLearn More
Nuclear Threat Initiative (Biosecurity Program)Long-Term FutureDonateLearn More

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:

Learn from our members

This interactive chart shows which organisations Giving What We Can members donate to (by number of members who have donated to the organisation).

Our members will also discuss their giving at our events, on our private Facebook group, on our blog, or on the Effective Altruism Forum.

Seek philanthropic advice

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).

Make a bequest

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.

Join our effective giving community

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.

Take a Pledge

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.

Questions? Need help?

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.