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Timeline of GiveWell

Revision as of 13:46, 3 December 2019 by Sebastian (talk | contribs)

This is a timeline of GiveWell, an American non-profit charity assessment and effective altruism-focused organization based in San Francisco. Among the many charity evaluators, GiveWell stands out as a rating service that complements classic quantitative measures.[1] The organization has reviewed over 500 charities.[2] According to nonprofit 80,000 hours, GiveWell is the world’s leading charity evaluator.[3]


Sample questions

The following are some interesting questions that can be answered by reading this timeline:

  • What are GiveWell's recurrent activities?
  • Which charities were highlighted by GiveWell per year?
  • How did GiveWell's Incubation Grant program develop quantitatively?
  • What are some important collaborations with other organizations?

Big picture

Period Event
2007 GiveWell launches. In the first year, fifty-nine organizations apply for GiveWell grants, with fifteen being considered to produce adequate information about their activities.[4] Population Services International (PSI) is announced as first recommended charity, and becomes the recipient of GiveWell's first substantial donation.[5]
2008 GiveWell moves US$35,021 through its website, and receives 130 donations.[6]
2009 GiveWell decides to rate only charities that meet a minimal standard of transparency.[7] The evaluator moves US$143,013 through its website (A 308% increase from the previous year). The number of donations reaches 665 (a 412% increase from 2008).[6]
2010 GiveWell manages to track over US$1.5 million in donations to top charities, compared to just over $1 million in 2009. Its website traffic nearly doubles compared to the previous year, and donations through the website nearly triples.[8] The evaluator moves US$399,456 through its website (a 179% increase from 2009), whereas the number of donations reaches 976 (a 47% growth from the previous year).[6]
2011 A strong growth is experienced during the year. GiveWell tracks over US$5 million to top charities, compared to about US$1.5 million in 2010.[8] Its website reaches US$1,305,089 in movement (a 227% increase from 2010), whereas its number of donations more than triples to 3,099 (a 218% growth from the previous year).[6] In 2011 GiveWell broadens its search on charitable organizations to include flag promising charities, based on additional characteristics. The set of heuristics for flagging charities worth investigating further is partially developed by incorporating research and previous heuristics from the 2009 report.[9][10]
2012 GiveWell starts searching for organizations working on immunization, nutrition and other global health programs.[9] The evaluator identifies three top priorities for the year: to make significant progress on GiveWell Labs; find more top charities under the same basic framework as our existing recommendations; and expand its team.[8]
2013 GiveWell develops a cause selection framework, getting basic context for assessing causes within policy-oriented philanthropy and scientific research funding.[8]
2014 GiveWell tracks 27.8 million dollars moved to its recommended charities, about 60% more than in 2013. The total number of donors giving to GiveWell's recommended charities or to GiveWell unrestricted would not grow significantly (up 9% to about 9,300). Many new donors who gave less than $1,000 in 2013 would not give again in 2014, but among those who gave $10,000 or more in 2013, a higher proportion would give again in 2014.[8]
2015 GiveWell tracks approximately 100 million dollars in donations going to its recommended charities as a result of its research.[11]
2015–2016 GiveWell seeks to expand top charity room for more funding and consider alternatives to its top charities by inviting other groups that work on deworming, net distributions, and micronutrient fortification to apply. This would lead to adding Sightsavers' deworming program, the END Fund's deworming program, Project Healthy Children, and Food Fortification Initiative to GiveWell's lists.[9]
2017 The Open Philanthropy Project becomes an independent entity.

Visual data

Growth of GiveWell full-time staff, June 2010 – August 2016.


Growth of GiveWell, June 2010 – August 2016. ‘Num’ is the number of full-time staff, ‘Diff’ is the difference in ‘Num’ relative to the previous month and is given in the form (−x,y), where x is the number full-time staff that left and y is the number of full-time staff that joined.[12]

Date Num Diff
2010-06-09 4
2011-06-04 4 (−1,+1)
2011-09-25 5 (−0,+1)
2012-01-02 4 (−1,+0)
2012-02-08 5 (−0,+1)
2012-07-19 8 (−0,+3)
2013-01-13 6 (−2,+0)
2013-04-30 7 (−0,+1)
2013-08-15 8 (−1,+2)
2013-09-28 10 (−0,+2)
2013-12-14 11 (−0,+1)
2014-07-13 12 (−0,+1)
2014-11-03 18 (−0,+6)
2015-02-01 18 (−1,+1)
2015-05-01 18 (−1,+1)
2015-06-16 23 (−0,+5)
2015-08-16 24 (−0,+1)
2015-10-01 30 (−0,+6)
2015-10-31 32 (−0,+2)
2015-11-22 31 (−1,+0)
2015-12-15 32 (−1,+2)
2016-03-10 31 (−2,+1)
2016-06-25 35 (−2,+6)
2016-07-23 37 (−1,+3)
2016-08-13 36 (−2,+1)

Growth of GiveWell and Open Phil since September 2016

Date GW ∩ OP GW ∖ OP OP ∖ GW
2016-09-10 2 18 20
2016-10-01 2(−0,+0) 19(−0,+1) 20(−0,+0)
2016-11-04 2(-0,+0) 18(−1,+0) 20(−0,+0)
2016-12-05 2(−0,+0) 18(−0,+0) 20(−0,+0)
2017-01-05 2(−0,+0) 17(−1,+0) 20(−0,+0)
2017-02-05 2(−0,+0) 15(−2,+0) 21(−0,+1)
2017-03-08 2(−0,+0) 14(−1,+0) 21(−1,+1)
2017-04-20 2(−0,+0) 16(−0,+2) 21(−0,+0)
2017-05-05 2(−0,+0) 16(−0,+0) 21(−0,+0)
2017-06-05 2(−0,+0) 16(−0,+0) 20(−1,+0)
2017-07-05 1(−1,+0) 16(−0,+0) 23(−0,+3)
2017-08-05 1(−0,+0) 16(−0,+0) 24(−0,+1)
2017-09-06 1(−0,+0) 16(−0,+0) 22(−2,+0)
2017-10-07 1(−0,+0) 16(−0,+0) 22(−0,+0)
2017-11-06 1(−0,+0) 18(−0,+2) 22(−0,+0)
2017-12-05 1(−0,+0) 19(−0,+1) 22(−0,+0)
2018-01-05 1(−0,+0) 19(−0,+0) 22(−0,+0)
2018-02-06 1(−0,+0) 18(−1,+0) 21(−1,+0)
2018-03-06 0(−1,+0) 19(−0,+1) 21(−0,+0)

Full timeline

Year Month and date Event type Details
2003 Prelude Holden Karnofsky graduates from Harvard with a degree in Social Studies. Karnofsky would spend the next several years in the hedge fund industry.[13]
2004 Prelude Elie Hassenfeld graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Religion. As well as Karnofsky, Hassenfeld would spend the next several years in the hedge fund industry.[13]
2006 Prelude Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld, working at a hedge fund in Connecticut, set up an informal “charity club” with colleagues, to help them make informed decisions about their giving. Each person would pick a cause and then research the best charities working on that cause, evaluating them based on data and performance metrics. Hassenfeld and Karnofsky find this work so satisfying that it would ultimately lead them to create GiveWell.[14]
2007 April 7 Publication Givewell publishes The Case for the Clear Fund, its so called original business plan, written mostly to solicit the support and feedback of its existing contacts.[8]
2007 Midyear Creation GiveWell is founded by Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld,[15][16] with the purpose of evaluating, ranking, and recommending charities, focussing on evidence of effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, transparency, self-monitoring and need for funding.[17][18]
2007  ? Recommendation After conducting an open grant application process and reviewing 59 applications in global health and development, Givewell announces the first recommendations: Population Services International (PSI), which markets and distributes life-saving materials (mostly condoms and insecticide treated bednets); Partners in Health (PIH), which creates comprehensive health programs (hospital, health center, and community health workers) in disadvantaged, generally rural, areas in the developing world; and Interplast, which devotes to correcting deformities requiring surgery (such as cleft lip and palate deformities), both through direct treatment and through support of local doctors.[9][19]
2007 December Scandal Holden Karnofsky is discovered posting a question about GiveWell to community weblog MetaFilter using another individual's name, and then posting an answer about the organization with his own name but without disclosing his affiliation with GiveWell. Negative publicity would rise, leading Karnofsky to resign from the role of executive director, though he would be later reinstated.[20][21][22][23]
2008 June 19 Publication GiveWell's first-year review is published.[8]
2008 August 9 Strategy At a board meeting, GiveWell members agree that their top priority for the coming year is money moved, with research as a secondary priority. After several months, the team would comclude that they were prioritizing their time and resources badly, and that they weren't on the best possible path to their eventual goal.[8]
2008 November 17 Publication GiveWell publishes its Change of Direction, based on reforms of the plan resulting from the board meeting on August 9 2008.[8]
2009  ? Publication Australian philosopher Peter Singer publishes The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty arguing that citizens of affluent nations are behaving immorally if they do not act to end the poverty they know to exist in developing nations.
2009  ? Review GiveWell conducts reviews of websites from over 300 charitable organizations, aiming to find ones that either implemented priority programs or published, on their websites, meaningful evaluations of their programs.[9]
2009  ? Grant GiveWell conducts a grant application process for organizations running economic empowerment programs in the developing world.[9] The $250,000 grant is offered to organizations providing economic empowerment programs in Sub-Saharan Africa.[24]
2009 Late months Strategy GiveWell begins to use "scenario analysis" asking how a charity's activities would change at different levels of total unrestricted funding. This approach is expected to allow GiveWell to check back later and see the extent to which actual activities were in line with actual funding.[25]
2010 February Site visit Holden Karnofsky visits two of GiveWell's recommended charities in site, the Small Enterprise Foundation in South Africa and VillageReach in Mozambique.[26]
2010 February 19 Publication GiveWell's 2009 Review and Plan is published.[8]
2010 June 3 Guest post The first guest post on GiveWell by a donor is published.[27]
2010 August–November Site visit GiveWell's staff visits Mumbai, India from mid-August to the end of November, and visits a number of organizations in Mumbai and other cities in the country.[28]
2010 Charity ranking GiveWell publishes its top charities. Village Reach (immunizations), Stop TB Partnership (tuberculosis), and Against Malaria Foundation (malaria) are ranked at the top among international charities. Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), Nurse-Family Partnership, and Invest in Kids are ranked as top United States charities.[29]
2011 February Publication GiveWell's 2010 Review and Plan is published.[8]
2011 April Staff Good Ventures co–founder Cari Tuna (married to Facebook co–founder Dustin Moskovitz) joins the board of GiveWell.[30][31]
2011 September 8 Partnership GiveWell Labs is announced as a new initiative within GiveWell. A collaboration between private foundation Good Ventures and GiveWell, the purpose of it is to “systematically examine a wide variety of causes and opportunities with the intention of identifying the ones which could use additional money ... to produce the best long-run outcomes.”[32]
2011 October Site visit GiveWell staff visits five organizations in Malawi and four in India as part of its research process to identify top-rated charities.[33][34]
2011 November Charity ranking GiveWell announces its 2011 top charities:

Other GiveWell's standout organizations include:

  • GiveDirectly (Cash grants to poor households in Kenya)
  • Innovations for Poverty Action (Research on how to fight poverty and promote development)
  • KIPP Houston ((United States) Charter schools facing budget cuts)
  • Nyaya Health [now know as Possible] (Health care in rural Nepal)
  • Pratham (Primary education in India)
  • Small Enterprise Foundation (Microloans for women in South Africa)[35]
2012 February Publication GiveWell's 2011 Review and Plan is published.[8]
2012 June Partnership Private foundation Good Ventures (founded by Cari Tuna and her husband, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz) announces a close partnership with GiveWell.[36][37] The joint collaboration would later lead to the formation of the Open Philanthropy Project, whose mission is to figure out how, exactly to figure out the best possible way to use large sums of money to do as much good as possible.[38]
2012 November Site visit GiveWell staff travels to Kenya as part of its research process to identify top-rated charities, with the primary purpose of visiting GiveDirectly. The staff also visits two projects run by Evidence Action.[39][34]
2012 November Charity ranking GiveWell announces its updated top charities:
2013 January Administration GiveWell moves its offices to San Francisco.[15][42]
2013 February, March Publication GiveWell's 2012 Review and Plan is published.[8]
2013 June Donation Good Ventures awards a grant of $20,000 to GiveWell to support its capacity to research the history of philanthropy and funding opportunities in policy advocacy.[43]
2013 October Site visit GiveWell staff travels to India as part of its research process to identify top-rated charities, with the primary purpose of visiting the Deworm the World Initiative, led by Evidence Action.[44][34]
2013 December Charity ranking GiveWell announces its top charities for giving season 2014:
2014  ? GiveWell solicits applications from several organizations running priority programs and evaluates two organizations that have conducted randomized controlled trials of their own programs.
2014 January Grant Non-profit New Incentives receives a US$100,000 grant from San Francisco-based philantropic organization Good Ventures –with input from GiveWell. The grant is the first of a set of grants that aims to increase the number of contenders for GiveWell's top charity status. New Incentives is selected for the grant because it runs a priority program, is committed to transparency, and is at an early stage of development, according to GiveWell.[46]
2014 February, March Publication GiveWell's 2013 Review and Plan is published.[8]
2014 March Grant Good Ventures awards a grant of US$240,000 to GiveWell for general operating support, with the purpose to increase the availability of high-quality information and analysis about charities and giving opportunities.[47]
2014 August Organization GiveWell Labs becomes known as the Open Philanthropy Project.[8]
2014 September Incubation grant Good Ventures makes a US$34,382 grant to IDinsight, as part of GiveWell's project to support the development of top charities.[48]
2014 September Study GiveWell completes a medium-depth writeup on geoengineering research – large-scale interventions in the climate to attempt to reduce climate change or its impacts – focusing on research around efforts to artificially cool the planet. The evaluator finds no funders – governmental or philanthropic – spending large amounts in this area at the moment, and the field appears relatively small with relatively little in funding.[49]
2014 October Site visit GiveWell staff travels to Burkina Faso and Uganda as part of its research process to identify top-rated charities, with the primary purpose of visiting Development Media International and Living Goods.[50][34]
2014 November Charity ranking GiveWell announces its top charities for giving season 2014:

Other GiveWell's standout charities include Development Media International (DMI), Iodine Global Network (IGN), The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) - Universal Salt Iodization (USI) program, and Living Goods.[51]

2014 December Research GiveWell completes an investigation of one new intervention (salt iodization), and makes substantial progress on several others (maternal and neonatal tetanus immunization campaigns, mass drug administration for lymphatic filariasis, and vitamin A supplementation).[52][53]
2015 March Incubation grant Good Ventures, with input from GiveWell, awards US$100,000 grant to New Incentives, for general operating support.[54]
2015 March, April Publication GiveWell's 2014 Review and Plan is published.[8]
2015 April Partnership Open Philanthropy Project announces a partnership with Kaitlyn Trigger and Mike Krieger (co-founder of Instagram).
2015 July Site visit GiveWell staff travels to Ethiopia to visit the work on universal salt iodization being carried out by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.[55][34]
2015 September Incubation grant With GiveWell reccommendation, Good Ventures grants US$200,000 to the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to support two randomized controlled trials in India and Pakistan that would test whether providing non-cash incentives increases child immunization rates.[56]
2015 November Charity ranking GiveWell announces its top charities for giving season 2015:

Development Media International (DMI), The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition’s Universal Salt Iodization program (GAIN – USI), Iodine Global Network (IGN), and Living Goods are recognized as standout charities.[57][58][16]

2016 March Incubation grant Following GiveWell’s general effort to support the creation of future top charities, Good Ventures grants US$812,351 to Evidence Action to support the development of additional programs. These funds are expected to develop and implement a program in Bangladesh.[59] In the same month, Good Ventures grants US$300,000 to New Incentives to support its conditional cash transfers program.[60]
2016 April, May Publication GiveWell's 2015 Review and Plan is published.[8]
2016 May Incubation grant As part of GiveWell’s effort, Good Ventures grants US$6,400,000 to non-profit Results for Development to support its Market Dynamics practice area’s pneumonia treatment program in Tanzania. The fund is expected to increase use of amoxicillin, the WHO-recommended first-line treatment for childhood pneumonia.[61] In the same month Good Ventures grants US$350,000 to Innovations for Poverty Action to support a randomized controlled trial.[62]
2016 June–October Incubation grant Following GiveWell’s guidelines Good Ventures grants $1,985,000 in unrestricted funding over three years to IDinsight, a development-consulting organization that serves mission-driven organizations to facilitate evidence-based decision-making. The fund is expected to allow IDinsight to scale its model of supporting and evaluating development interventions, ideally (in the long term) providing us with research that GiveWell would be able to use in its work to recommend top charities. In October, Good Ventures grants an additional US$314,752 to IDinsight.[63]
2016 August Grant Good Ventures makes a grant of US$25 million to GiveDirectly on GiveWell’s recommendation, with GiveDirectly’s goals for the grant consisting in expanding its ability to raise funds from donors not influenced by GiveWell’s recommendation and collaborating with large aid institutions or governments to address their questions about cash transfers.[64]
2016 August Site visit GiveWell staff travels to the Greater Accra Region, Ghana, with the primary purpose of visiting the Against Malaria Foundation and Sightsavers.[65][34]
2016 September 14 Website GiveWell launches new website.[66]
2016 November Incubation grant Good Ventures grants $368587 to New Incentives as part of GiveWell's work to support the creation of new top charities.[67] In the same month Good Ventures grants $200,000 to Charity Science: Health to support the first year of its work setting up a charity to send SMS immunization reminders in India.[68]
2016 November Charity ranking Givewell announces its top charities for giving season 2016:

Other charities worthy of special recognition by GiveWell include Development Media International (DMI), Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition’s Universal Salt Iodization program (GAIN – USI), Iodine Global Network (IGN), Living Goods, and Project Healthy Children.[69]

2016 Year round Statistics/incubation grant According to a delayed report posted in September 2017, GiveWell manages to track a total of US$91.6 million during 2016 given to its top charities as a direct result of research.[70] In the same year, Good Ventures made GiveWell Incubation Grants totaling US$13.3 million.[71]
2017 January Incubation grant As part of GiveWell's Incubation Grants to support the development of potential future top charities and improve the quality of our recommendations, Good Ventures grants $900,000 to the Georgetown University Initiative on Innovation, Development, and Evaluation for its Road Safety Campaign.[72]
2017 January, February Site visit GiveWell staff travels to Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Kenya with the purpose of visiting top charity the END Fund and 2017 top charity contender Zusha!, a project of the Georgetown University Initiative on Innovation, Development and Evaluation.[73][34]
2017 February Site visit As part of a broader partnership with GiveWell, IDinsight staff travels to Nigeria to visit New Incentives.[74][34]
2017 February–March GiveWell runs a small experiment with a few ads on FiveThirtyEight’s Politics podcast and Vox’s The Weeds. Having spent approximately $20,000 on ads for the initial experiment, Givewell asks donors who give via GiveWell's website to tell the evaluator where they learned about GiveWell when they donate. One of the findings is that donors generally find out about GiveWell during the course of the year, but donate in December. The experiment is later expanded, spending approximately $100,000 on podcast ads.[75]
2017 March, April Publication GiveWell's 2016 Review and Plan is published.[8]
2017 April Incubation Grant Regents of the University of California, Berkeley receives a GiveWell Incubation Grant of US$1,104,259 to support the Kenya Life Panel Survey Round 4 (KLPS-4), a follow-up study to assess the long-term impact of deworming on consumption.[76] In the same month, under the incubation grant program, Good Ventures makes a grant of US$2,642,300 to Evidence Action –which expects to strengthen its financial systems, human resources, and information technology, and another grant of US$820,000 to New Incentives, which plans to use these funds to support its work on conditional cash transfers to incentivize child immunization.[77][78]
2017 April 3 Discretionary Grant GiveWell announces plan to allocate US$4.4 million to the Against Malaria Foundation and US$0.5 million of the funding it received for granting to the Deworm the World Initiative. Such allocations have their source in US$4.9 million GiveWell received in funding for making grants at its discretion.[79]
2017 May Incubation Grant IDinsight receives an Incubation Grant of US$2,321,617 to support its GiveWell-embedded team for the next twelve months. This grant is in addition to June 2016 and October 2016 GiveWell Incubation Grants to IDinsight, a company that supports and conducts rigorous evaluations of development interventions, often involving randomized controlled trials (RCTs), with an explicit focus on partnering with funders and policy makers to use data to inform key strategy decisions. IDinsight's "decision-focused evaluation" is considered aligned with GiveWell's goals.[80]
2017 June Incubation grant The Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California, Berkeley receives a GiveWell Incubation Grant of US$18,000 to investigate the feasibility of conducting a high-quality follow-up study on Stoltzfus et al. 1997, a deworming evaluation conducted in Tanzania in the mid-1990s.[81]
2017 June 1 Organization The Open Philanthropy Project becomes an independent organization.[82]
2017 June–July Site visit As part of a broader partnership with GiveWell, IDinsight visits to United Purpose (formerly Concern Universal), an implementing partner of Against Malaria Foundation, in Malawi.[83] In July, IDinsight would observe a 12-month post-distribution check-up of AMF, in Ghana.[84][34]
2017 July Incubation grant Charity Science Health receives a GiveWell Incubation Grant of US$357,543 to support its SMS immunization reminder program in India.[85] In the same month, the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California, Berkeley receives a GiveWell Incubation Grant of US$492,188, with CEGA planning to use these funds to create a list of previously completed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that could potentially be candidates for follow-up studies analyzing longer-term effects of programs.[86]
2017 August Incubation grant The Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention receives a GiveWell Incubation Grant of $1,336,409 to start work aimed at reducing deaths from deliberate ingestion of pesticides. The funds are planned to start collecting data on pesticide suicides in Nepal and India with the aim of assisting governments in enacting bans on the most lethal pesticides currently used in suicide attempts.[87]
2017 August Discretionary grant GiveWell announces plan to grant roughly $2.25 million in discretionary funding to the Deworm the World Initiative.[88]
2017 November Charity ranking Givewell announces its top charities for giving season 2017:

Standout charities:

2017 Year round GiveWell receives over US$290,000 in Bitcoin donations.[89]
2018 March Evidence Action Beta receives a GiveWell Incubation Grant of US$320,000 to support the Indian government's work on iron and folic acid supplementation.[90]
2018 April Whitney Shinkle joins GiveWell as new Director of Operations.[91]
2018 June Ben Bateman joins GiveWell as its first-ever Head of Growth.[91]
2018 June Fortify Health receives a GiveWell Incubation Grant of US$295,217 to start a new program aimed at mass fortification of wheat flour with iron in India.[92]
2018 December GiveWell updates its donations processing and announces accepting donations in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash,Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, and 0x.[89]
2018 Year round GiveWell tracks US$141 million in money moved to its recommended charities and via its Incubation Grants program. The amount is stated to be influenced by GiveWell recommendations.[93]
2019 September GiveWell staff visits Burkina Faso to meet with staff of Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program, and observe its work.[94]
2019 November 26 Charity ranking GiveWell publishes its 2019 top charities:
  • Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program
  • Against Malaria Foundation (AMF)
  • Helen Keller International (HKI)’s vitamin A supplementation program
  • Charities that treat parasitic worm infections, in particular deworming programs (Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative, Sightsavers’ deworming program, END Fund’s deworming program)
  • GiveDirectly[95]

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

The initial version of the timeline was written by User:Sebastian.

Funding information for this timeline is available.

What the timeline is still missing

Timeline update strategy

See also

External links


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