Charity evaluation

How to find an effective charity

We live in unprecedented times in which we have an astonishing opportunity to improve the world through charitable donations.

However, where you donate really matters. As individuals, we all have limited resources. If you'd like to maximise the impact of your donations, it's vital to find and support the organisations doing the most with your dollar. Here are four tips for choosing a charity:

#1. Carefully consider the problem you want to focus on

There are so many pressing problems in the world. But just like triaging in an emergency room, if we don’t think carefully about which issue to tackle first, we might not be able to help effectively.

While many people donate based on what they hear the most about, these aren’t necessarily the issues where you can make the biggest difference.

See the high-impact causes we recommend

#2. Don’t underestimate how much charities vary in their impact

Many donors vastly underestimate the difference between “good” and “great” charities, which explains why many of the best charities remain underfunded.

We think you can easily 100x your impact by donating to the best charities.

Learn more about comparing charities

#3. Use the research available to you

Just like it often saves a lot of time (and usually provides a more accurate picture of reality) to rely on product research from sites like CNET and Wirecutter instead of trying to scour company websites and cross reference customer reviews yourself, relying on expert research when determining where to donate is generally a very good rule of thumb (especially since the stakes are much higher when actual lives are on the line!)

Charity evaluators spend thousands of hours assessing different charities on a variety of metrics. We recommend using evaluators that focus primarily on impact — how the outcomes of a charity’s programs compare to the outcomes of other charities’ programs, and what the programs achieve relative to their costs. Impact-focused evaluators generally research charities that are already working in high-impact cause areas, since these are where donations can have the greatest effect.

To make things easy, we’ve compiled a list of charity recommendations that are based on the research of impact-focused evaluators that our research team has vetted.

See charity recommendations

#4. Maybe the best charity is...not a charity?

Okay, so you’ve chosen one of the incredibly impactful charities we recommend and you’ve set up a recurring donation to it. Go you!

But then years go by, and because we’re always updating our recommendations in line with the latest research and the current giving landscape (maybe one of the organisations we recommended in the past is now fully funded and additional funding won’t do as much good, or maybe there’s a new organisation on the scene that’s pioneering an even more cost-effective program) your recurring donation is now going to a charity that is no longer as effective as some other options. Of course, you could go edit it, but that’s a) annoying and b) dependent on you staying up to date with the current recommendations and research.

A better option is likely to donate to a charitable fund instead of picking individual charities. Just like using an actively managed investment fund is usually easier (and more effective) than trying to pick individual stocks to invest in, funds allow your donation to be allocated based on current expert advice. (But unlike an investment fund, you don’t pay a fee for the expertise you gain!)

See recommended funds

If you’ve found these tips helpful, you may want to:

Note: This video was recorded in 2021 and contains some out of date information.