I read an article about an awesome new non-profit called Givewell; please check out www.givewell.org. I think they have a fantastic idea that they are working on and have the opportunity to make a huge impact on charitable giving. From what little I know about them as of right now, I would even go beyond this and say they in all likelihood will make a large impact.
GiveWell is a non-profit whose mission is charity research. They have some very strong minds behind it and take their charter very seriously. Fundamentally, they are bringing in-depth research in addition to data, analytics and intelligence to the charity review field. This is exciting to say the least and has the opportunity to disrupt a lot of conventional thinking in charitable giving.
Many people in the world are charitable and there are a huge number of charitable organizations. People are largely well intentioned. That said, running a charity and doing the maximum amount of good per dollar raised is a herculean task and there is a great deal of money squandered along the way in the pursuit of accomplishing good. Just like there are some companies that are better than others; there are some charitable organizations that do much more good per dollar of donation that others. The problem is that these organizations can be very difficult to find and evaluate.
Enter GiveWell. Their goal is to look at tons of charities and do in depth research on them, narrowing down the field to the very best. Once they do this, they will publish their results and direct people to give money to those charities. When you pick a small handful of charitable organizations, you can have extremely stringent criteria. Importantly, they seem very self-aware and realize this is all a learning process and are refining their model as they go along. We know how hard this is just from our small effort at Mav’s Rescue Friends. We started by trying to figure out how to rate local animal rescues to influence donations to them but realized our small effort was not going to be able to do that effectively so have slowed things down recently to reevaluate. We want to figure out a way to help eradicate animal euthanasia but are constantly refining our thoughts (still not having come up with an idea with which we feel comfortable pushing forward).
Finding a way to analyze charities is a great idea to start, but the idea seems much bigger than that to me. GiveWell has the opportunity to change the world in a variety of different ways. First of all, they will surely help steer some amount of charitable giving to charitable organizations that will use the funds very well relative to other organizations. Next, over time as they become better known and more influential they will affect the way charities operate so as to focus on maximizing good by creating best practices. Finally, they have and will continue to inspire a great deal more giving as people will feel that their money is going to be put to good use as opposed to being wasted.
I have gone through the site a bit and will update this over time hopefully as I see more on them, but from what I can tell there is a lot of horsepower behind this effort. I enjoy their work, website, and transparency and can only imagine that GiveWell will continue to grow, improve, and influence the world of charitable giving. I am looking forward to following how they evolve and the good they are able to do. I think it is just a phenomenal idea and it seems like a capital-light way to inspire a lot of good in the world. I am excited about their potential to say the least.