Inclusion criteria

How we select high-impact charities to support

6 min read
Nov 15, 2022

Our mission at Giving What We Can is to create a culture of giving significantly and effectively. As part of this, we provide information and infrastructure for donors to find and fund the most impactful charities.

Here’s how we decide which charities to recommend, feature on our website, and support through our donation platform.

Criteria for being a supported charity, nonprofit, or fund

Giving What We Can has three categories of supported charities, nonprofit organisations, and charitable funds:

  • Top-rated — These options are promoted on our giving recommendations page, and are excellent options for donors looking to give effectively. We are confident they are cost-effective in expectation, because they have been investigated by trusted evaluators and held to a high standard.
  • Listed — We think these are promising options that will be of interest to people looking to give effectively. Being listed does not necessarily mean we think these are less cost-effective than top-rated options; it just means that they don’t meet our criteria to be on our giving recommendations page.
  • Unlisted — We think some effective givers will have good reasons to want to donate to these options, but we are not yet confident enough in their cost-effectiveness to publicly list them on our site. These options are made available by following a direct link from the organisation itself; they won’t appear on either our giving recommendations or donations page.

To fit in any of the above categories, the donation option must be capable of receiving funds from private individuals, and fit within Giving What We Can’s charitable purpose. Below is more detail about each of these categories, the purpose they serve, and their inclusion criteria.

Criteria for being top-rated

You can find our current list of top-rated funds, charities and nonprofits on our giving recommendations page.

We generally recommend that donors give to funds, because they are managed by experts who work closely with charities to ensure they receive funding in proportion to their need and expected cost-effectiveness. For a fund to be considered top-rated by Giving What We Can, its grantmaking must be managed by one of several trusted evaluators — read more about the charitable giving experts we trust and why we trust them.

To be a top-rated charity, that charity must meet the requirement that we or one of our trusted evaluators has conducted an investigation into the charity and found it met a very high standard of expected cost-effectiveness.

Our goal in making these recommendations is to provide donors with an overview of some of the highest-impact donation opportunities we know of across a range of worldviews. These are organisations that are highly cost-effective in expectation and generally have publicly available research supporting their cost-effectiveness.

Notably, this excludes charities that may well be extremely cost-effective but simply haven’t been investigated by one of our trusted charity evaluators.

We do not process requests from organisations looking to receive top-rated status.

Criteria for being listed

As well as providing recommendations, our donation platform lists other very promising funds, charities and nonprofits that we think are worth listing publicly so that donors can more easily consider them. These fall into two categories:

  1. Organisations that haven’t (yet) been confirmed by our trusted evaluators to meet the same standards as our top-rated organisations, but we think that some of them may turn out to be even more cost-effective.
  2. Organisations that have been looked into by evaluators and weren’t found to meet the same expected cost-effectiveness standards as our top-rated organisations, but still stand out enough to be worthy of special mention.

There are several indicators the Giving What We Can research team uses to decide — on a case-by-case basis — whether a fund, charity, or nonprofit should be listed. Reasons we may list organisations include:

  • They are supported by research from one of our trusted evaluators — One of our trusted evaluators finds that the organisation is worth special mention, even if it isn’t among their current top-recommended options.
  • They are supported by research from other evaluators — A research organisation that we haven’t (yet) classified as a trusted evaluator presents evidence that this charity is highly cost-effective in expectation.
  • They previously met our criteria for top-rated organisations — An organisation may no longer meet our top-rated criteria, but we think that it is still worth highlighting and some donors may wish to continue supporting it.
  • They have recently received grants from a trusted evaluator or impact-maximising grantmaker — The organisation has recently received funding from one of our trusted evaluators or by other grantmakers that make grants based on their expected cost-effectiveness.
  • They do highly promising work in a high-impact cause area, but haven’t been evaluated yet — At a first pass, our research team judges the organisation’s work to have the potential to be as cost-effective as some of our top-rated options, but there hasn’t been a thorough investigation by any evaluator.
  • They are one of our trusted evaluators — We think evaluators are doing important work. By providing research on how to give effectively, they empower ordinary people to have extraordinary impact, and so we generally think funding their work meets the bar to receive listed status.

In addition to the above, when choosing whether to add or retain a listed organisation, we consider the amount of funds we expect the organisation to receive by being on our platform. This is because maintaining our donation platform is expensive, so we want to make sure that listed organisations are receiving enough benefit to justify our operational costs.

We do not process requests from organisations looking to receive listed status.

Criteria for being unlisted

In addition to providing advice on how to give effectively, Giving What We Can also supports the effective giving community more broadly. Our donation platform supports donors by providing many impactful donation options in one place, and it helps organisations receive donations from many donors across the world.

In some cases, there are organisations that don’t yet meet the criteria to be listed prominently on our website, but meet our criteria to be supported by our donation platform. These organisations can be found using a direct link (i.e. from the organisations’ own websites), but do not appear on either our giving recommendations or donations page.

Generally speaking, the following would be sufficient for an organisation to be added as an unlisted option:

  • The organisation is within the charitable scope of Giving What We Can and has broad alignment with effective altruism principles (i.e. the charity works on a pressing problem and takes a reasonably promising approach).
  • There is no major risk of accidental harm from supporting the organisation.
  • Giving What We Can expects the charity to receive at least $50,000 USD in the next year through our platform, or the Giving What We Can research team thinks the project is particularly promising according to criteria similar to those we use for evaluating listed status.

We actively monitor whether charities should retain their unlisted status.

Apply here if your organisation believes it should receive unlisted status.

Can you recommend or support my charity?

If you think you meet the criteria to be unlisted on our platform, please fill in this Google Form outlining why.

We do not process requests from organisations looking to receive listed or top-rated status.

Giving What We Can does not take any fees from donors using our platform or from charities listed on our platform. We are independently funded to promote our mission of making giving effectively and significantly a cultural norm.