Effective charity recommendations

What are the best charities to donate to in 2023?

When you care about making a difference in the world, it's natural to ask: "Where can my donations do the most good?"

The great news is that your donations can have an astonishing impact.

But to maximise your impact you need to donate effectively. This is especially important given the best charities are often 10 times better than a typical charity within the same area and hundreds of times better than poorly performing charities. The worst charities can even do harm. That means if you donated $100 to the best charity, you could be doing even more good than someone who donates $1,000 to a typical charity, or $10,000 to a poorly performing one.

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How to donate effectively

The point of charity is to help others. Donating effectively means that you’re taking steps to make sure you’re helping others the most for every dollar you give.

We think the best way to do this is to:

  1. Identify a promising cause to support. The most promising causes are generally:
    1. Large in scale: they significantly impact many lives
    2. Neglected: they still need more funding and support
    3. Tractable: there are clear and practical ways of making progress
  2. Choose an excellent fund or charity working on the cause. Indicators of worthwhile organisations include: reliance on evidence, cost-effectiveness, transparency, room for more funding, and a strong track record. We generally recommend giving to expert-managed funds over charities, because they can allocate your donation where and when it is needed most.
  3. Pick an efficient way to donate. Try getting your donation matched by your employer or set up a recurring donation.

In practice, choosing a cause and evaluating funds and charities can take a lot of time and effort, and many donors aren't able to work it into their busy schedules. To help you get started, we've put together a list of trustworthy, cost-effective funds and charities working on some of the most pressing causes.

Our effective giving recommendations

These recommendations are listed roughly in order of convenience and suitability for most donors. The right giving opportunity for you will depend on your particular values and worldview.

Giving What We Can does not take any fees from donors using our platform. We are independently funded to promote our mission of making giving effectively and significantly a cultural norm. We’re here to help you do the most good through your giving. Read more on our transparency page.

For most people, we recommend donating through an expert-led fund that is focused on effectiveness.

Funds are both convenient and highly effective. They allow donors to pool their money so that they can support outstanding giving opportunities that are evaluated by expert grantmakers and trusted charity evaluators.

This approach is similar to using an investment fund instead of trying to pick which individual stocks will be the best investments. The fund distributes your donation among multiple grantees with the goal of maximising your overall impact. Read more about the advantages of funds.

Donors from the US, UK, and the Netherlands can make tax-deductible donations to the following funds using the Giving What We Can donation platform. For other countries, you can read our tax deductibility guide by country — but we still think these funds are likely to be your best option, even if they’re not tax deductible.

Here are our top-rated funds grouped by cause area.

Learn more about how we choose which charities and funds to recommend.

Top-rated funds improving human wellbeing

These funds generally give to organisations taking evidence-based approaches to improve and save lives of people currently alive. Donors who value their donations going to organisations either with a strong track-record or a promising and testable new approach to help people in the current generation can maximise their impact by donating to one of these funds.

Top-rated funds improving animal welfare

The following funds generally work towards improving the lives of all animals, with a particular emphasis on improving the lives of factory farmed animals. Donors who believe nonhuman animals deserve significant moral consideration could maximise their impact by donating to one of these funds.

NameOrganisationCause areaDonate
Animal Welfare FundEffective Altruism FundsImproving animal welfareDonate
Movement Grants FundAnimal Charity EvaluatorsImproving animal welfareDonate
Recommended Charity FundAnimal Charity EvaluatorsImproving animal welfareDonate

Top-rated funds creating a better future

The following funds all aim to create a better future. They vary in their approach, so we recommend reading more about each to inform your decision. Donors who value future generations and believe we should be prioritising ensuring humanity's safety and resilience can maximise their impact by donating to one of these funds.

Top-rated funds working across multiple cause areas

These funds are supporting work that touches on multiple of the above-mentioned cause areas. For example, the Climate Fund and the Global Catastrophic Risk Fund make grants based on considering both what might improve human wellbeing and what might create a better future. Donors who want to support cross-cause-area work may choose to donate to one of these funds to maximise their impact.

NameOrganisationCause areaDonate
Climate Change FundFounders PledgeMultiple cause areasDonate
Effective Altruism Infrastructure FundEffective Altruism FundsMultiple cause areasDonate
Global Catastrophic Risks FundFounders PledgeMultiple cause areasDonate

If you would like to be more closely involved with your donation, or if you would like more options to choose from, you can also donate directly to high-impact charities working on some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Finding the most effective charities requires:

  • Developing models that allow comparisons between causes.
  • Researching which interventions or actions are effective within a cause.
  • Tracking how much a charity is spending on carrying out these interventions.
  • Monitoring whether the charity is successfully carrying out the work they claim to be doing.

Doing this well requires expertise. That’s why we rely on our trusted evaluators — charitable giving experts who conduct primary research into the cost-effectiveness of charities.

Our current top-rated charities and nonprofit organisations

Our top-rated charities work on a range of causes. Some use established, evidence-based strategies and some use strategies that are more innovative or speculative.

For giving season 2022, we recommend the following high-impact charities based on evaluations from our trusted evaluators at GiveWell, Animal Charity Evaluators, and Founders Pledge, in accordance with our inclusion criteria. You can use the Giving What We Can donation platform to donate directly to these organisations.

In general, we recommend most donors focus their efforts on finding an evaluator that aligns with their values and who they can trust. This is because directly evaluating charities takes a substantial amount of time and expertise to do well and is extremely important to get right, given how much charities differ in cost-effectiveness.

Yet, we think it makes sense for some people to do their own research into the best available giving opportunities. This might be true for you if:

  • Your values do not align with any expert evaluators and so you believe you can find more effective charities on your own.
  • You have unique access to or knowledge of effective donation opportunities that expert evaluators have not investigated.
  • You would benefit from learning how charity evaluation works, either because it could inform your future giving, or it would provide you skills that would allow you to do even more good through your career (for example, by working as a charity evaluator).

If you want to do your own research and evaluation, you don’t have to do it alone. You could:

Learn from our members

This interactive chart shows which organisations Giving What We Can members donate to.

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

Seek trusted philanthropic advice

Donors with specific needs and substantial funds to donate can benefit from working with a philanthropic advisor.

If you’re an individual donor interested in working with an advisor, please fill out this form and we will connect you with an appropriate person or organisation.

Make a bequest

By donating money from your estate to effective charities, you could leave behind an incredible legacy.

Leaving a gift to charity in your will is typically called a bequest or 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 pledging 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 in your footsteps.

Learn more about our pledges

Not ready to pledge? You can also donate to an effective charity, sign up for 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 have any questions or need 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.