What are the best charities to donate to in 2020?

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 (that’s why 4,980 people have pledged to give at least 10% of their lifetime income to help others).

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.

Donate

Keep scrolling to find our list of top recommended individual charities.

How to pick an effective charity to support

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.

However, charity evaluation is 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 to Effective Altruism Funds (EA Funds), as it strikes a good balance between being very easy for donors and highly effective. It helps donors to pool their money together so that they can find outstanding giving opportunities that are evaluated by expert grantmakers. Donations to the Funds are tax-deductible in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands.

Donate via EA Funds Learn more

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

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.

The best donation advice will vary based on personal circumstances, such as the country you live in (our community has members from 87 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
EA FundsVarious🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇳🇱
GiveWellGlobal Health & Development🇺🇸
Animal Charity EvaluatorsAnimal Welfare🇺🇸
Long-Term Risk FundLong-Term Future🇩🇪 🇨🇭 🇳🇱
RC ForwardVarious🇨🇦
Effective Altruism AustraliaGlobal Health & Development🇦🇺
EA FoundationVarious🇩🇪 🇨🇭 🇳🇱
Effective Altruism New ZealandGlobal Health & Development🇳🇿
The Life You Can SaveGlobal Health & Development🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇦🇺 🇳🇱
Fundación Ayuda EfectivaGlobal Health & Development🇪🇸
Effektiv SpendenVarious🇩🇪
Effektiv AltruismeVarious🇳🇴
Gi effektivtGlobal Health & Development🇳🇴

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).

We also recommend donations to the following selected high-impact non-profit organisations. These cover a mix of different causes and range from opportunities that are robust to some that are more speculative (but potentially higher impact). You can also use the Effective Altruism Funds platform to donate directly to these organisations.

Learn from our members

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

Members can also report their donations in their pledge dashboard. This interactive chart shows which organisations our members are donating to.

Seek philanthropic advice

Donors with specific needs and more money to give can benefit from working with a philanthropic advisor such as Effective Giving. 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 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.