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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
|All Grants Fund||GiveWell||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Global Health and Development Fund||Effective Altruism Funds||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Top Charities Fund||GiveWell||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
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.
|Animal Welfare Fund||Effective Altruism Funds||Improving animal welfare||Donate|
|Movement Grants Fund||Animal Charity Evaluators||Improving animal welfare||Donate|
|Recommended Charity Fund||Animal Charity Evaluators||Improving animal welfare||Donate|
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.
|Long-Term Future Fund||Effective Altruism Funds||Creating a better future||Donate|
|Longtermism Fund||Longview||Creating a better future||Donate|
|Patient Philanthropy Fund||Founders Pledge||Creating a better future||Donate|
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.
|Climate Change Fund||Founders Pledge||Multiple cause areas||Donate|
|Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund||Effective Altruism Funds||Multiple cause areas||Donate|
|Global Catastrophic Risks Fund||Founders Pledge||Multiple cause areas||Donate|
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:
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 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.
|Against Malaria Foundation||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Deworm the World||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Family Empowerment Media||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Helen Keller International — Vitamin A supplementation||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Iodine Global Network||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Lead Exposure Elimination Project||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Malaria Consortium — SMC programme||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|New Incentives||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Sightsavers — Deworming programme||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|StrongMinds||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Suvita||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Teaching at the Right Level Africa||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Unlimit Health||Improving human wellbeing||Donate|
|Faunalytics||Improving animal welfare||Donate|
|Good Food Institute||Improving animal welfare||Donate|
|The Humane League||Improving animal welfare||Donate|
|Wild Animal Initiative||Improving animal welfare||Donate|
|Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security||Creating a better future||Donate|
|Nuclear Threat Initiative — Biosecurity programme||Creating a better future||Donate|
|Doneer Effectief||Multiple cause areas||Donate|
|Effective Altruism Australia||Multiple cause areas||Donate|
|Effektiv Spenden||Multiple cause areas||Donate|
|The Life You Can Save||Multiple cause areas||Donate|
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:
If you want to do your own research and evaluation, you don’t have to do it alone. You could:
This interactive chart shows which organisations Giving What We Can members donate to.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.