My favorite charity evaluator, GiveWell, has announced its recommended charities for the year.
Last year's picks, Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), are still highly recommended. AMF primarily distributes insecticide-treated bednets in the developing world to prevent malaria. SCI provides medication for tropical diseases, mostly parasitic infections, to children in Africa.
The newcomer this year is Give Directly, which makes unconditional cash grants to poor people in Kenya. It seems to have two advantages: in a field where it's often hard to tell what charities are doing with your donation, it's clear that Give Directly is giving out the cash. Also, if you value charity recipients' ability to choose what will most help themselves and their families, Give Directly is especially well suited to that.
The downside to Give Directly is that it's not clear what benefit comes of the cash transfers. There's evidence that people eat more food for a while after receiving the money, but any long-term effects are unclear. It sounds like GiveWell is planning to write more about why they chose this intervention, so I'll be interested to see what they have to say.
I think that donating to GiveWell's recommended charities has a benefit beyond the work they will do with your donation this year. It rewards organizations that can demonstrate their work is effective, which gives other charities an incentive to demonstrate and improve their effectiveness. I believe in data, and I believe that being more evidence-based will improve the work done by any charity.
Giving What We Can, 80,000 Hours, The Life You Can Save, and Effective Animal Activism are all hiring. Details here. GiveWell is also hiring researchers.