Blog post

Thought the question of the most effective charity was settled? There are always more questions.

2 min read
Nov 29, 2013

This Tuesday, charity evaluator GiveWell removed the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) from their top-recommended charities list. What was the reason?

GiveWell’s central concern is that AMF may fail to use new donations to fund bed nets, or only purchase these bed nets with great delay. In the past two years, AMF have spent less than one tenth of the funds they have received (~$1m, out of over $12m) and although AMF say they are currently in talks about distributions worth $40m,[1] GiveWell want more evidence that AMF really can ‘scale-up’ to this sort of level; if and when AMF distribute the $12m they currently hold, GiveWell will review their case and say they are likely to recommend them once again.

It might seem odd that AMF are failing to distribute their funds. There seem to be plenty of at-risk people who don’t have insecticide-treated bed nets… So what’s the problem?

Well, it seems that although many health charities and Ministries of Health want nets, many won’t accept them under AMF’s conditions- particularly, their conditions for strong monitoring of net distributions. To receive nets from AMF, for example, an organisation must take photos and videos of net distributions, and this imposes some cost and hassle for the distributor. Although AMF’s intention with such requirements is to deter the stealing of nets, net distributors may prefer to avoid the hassle, and hold out for the chance of obtaining nets from less demanding donors.

We have all sorts of questions to pose to AMF, and we hope to soon hold a Skype conversation with AMF’s founder Rob Mather. What would you like us to ask? What do you think of GiveWell’s demotion of AMF? Which charity will you be donating to following this update?

NB GiveWell suggest other possible reasons AMF has struggled to use its funding, and we recommend you to read their full blog post to learn more.

Sources: [1] AMF's most recent distribution update