Info Summary Sheet

Poverty 

  • Every day, 14,500 children die from preventable causes like hunger, thirst, malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition
  • 800 million people live on less than $2 per day
  • 734 million live in extreme poverty (and coronavirus is causing this number to increase)

Thought Experiments

  • Seeing-Eye Dog (Singer explains here)
    • Costs $40,000 to train a seeing-eye dog in the U.S.
    • Costs $40 to treat someone of trachoma (a leading cause of blindness) in the developing world
    • You can prevent 1,000 people from going blind for the price of one seeing-eye dog: which would you rather do?
      • this logic can be applied to any comparison between relative impacts of charities/interventions
  • Drowning Child (Singer explains here)
    • Imagine you see a child drowning in a shallow pool while walking to work. There is no one else around. You could save them without any risk to you, but you’d ruin your $100 shoes
    • Obviously, you should still save them
    • 14,500 children die every day, and we can prevent it
      • Even though these children they aren’t literally in front of us, we can still save them - indeed, it's arguably easier than saving the child, which most of us won't have any opportunity to do in our lifetimes
      • We think it's entirely reasonable to have some material costs to us (ruined shoes) to save them - anyone who didn't save the child in order to save their shoes would be considered morally heinous
      • No one says "I'd have to know the child" / "they'd have to come from my neighborhood" before deciding whether to intervene - so familiarity/proximity shouldn't play a role in moral responsibility

Charity/Philanthropy

  • Americans give 2.6% to charity every year on average
  • Thus 1% isn’t actually a big ask and leaves plenty of room for other types of giving (your alma mater, your friend who runs a marathon etc.)
  • If the OECD gave 0.1%, global poverty would be eliminated by 2030

Pledge Effectiveness

With 1% of the average [Vanderbilt] post-graduate income, $556, you would

  • Protect 66 people from malaria (Against Malaria Foundation & Malaria Consortium)
  • Deworm 234 children (Deworm the World)
  • Provide Vitamin A supplements to 88 children (Helen Kelle International)

Over $850,000 has been donated through OFTW chapters nationwide, with $1.5 million slated to be donated within a couple years.

Top Charities

Against Malaria Foundation

  • 500,000 people die from Malaria each year
  • 70% of Malaria deaths are children under 5
  • AMF provides insecticide bed nets that protect 34 people for 3-4 years
  • AMF finds that 80% of nets are used effectively (much more than other net programs)
  • Net costs $2.12
  • 100% of their donations go towards net purchases

GiveDirectly

  • 10% of the world’s population lives on less than $2 per day
  • GD provides unconditional cash transfers to those living in extreme poverty
  • 88% of donations go directly to the transfers
  • 0% of the money is spent on alcohol and drugs

Helen Keller Vitamin A Supplementation Program

  • Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of blindness in children.
  • The WHO estimates that 250,000 to 500,000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.
  • Helen Keller International (HKI) supports VAS programs for preschoolaged children in African and Asian countries by providing technical assistance, engaging in advocacy, and contributing funding to governments for implementing the programs.
  • GiveWell estimates that it costs $1.35 for HKI to deliver a vitamin A supplement.

Malaria Consortium Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention Program

  • Malaria Consortium’s Seasonal Chemoprevention Program (SMC) distributes preventive antimalarial drugs to children 3 to 59 months old in order to prevent illness and death from malaria.
  • SMC was associated with an 89% reduction in malaria incidence for 4 weeks after treatment, and 62% from five to six weeks after treatment, compared with children who had not received SMC or whose last dose was more than six weeks before.
  • GiveWell estimate that Malaria Consortium’s cost of delivering the full four-month SMC treatment is $6.93.
  • GiveWell estimates that it is 8.8 times as cost effective as direct cash transfers

Evidence Action's Deworm the World Initiative

  • advocates for, supports, and evaluates government-run school-based deworming programs
    • primarily through school-based mass drug administrations (MDAs), in which the aim is to treat the entire population of children within a geographic area by distributing deworming pills.
  • Cost: in Kenya, the cost per child dewormed is about $0.66 per child, or $0.46 per child excluding in-kind contributions from governments. We estimate that the cost per child treated in India is roughly half of that.

OFTW Charity Selection

  • Evidence of effectiveness: priority given to programs that have been studied rigorously and repeatedly, whose benefits can reasonably be expected to generalize to larger or different populations
  • Cost-effectiveness: based on estimations of figures such as “cost per life saved” or “cost per economic benefit produced” - note that these calculations often involve value judgements as GiveWell have written about here
  • Room for more funding: what will additional funds — beyond what a charity would raise without GiveWell's recommendation — enable the charity to do, and what is the value of these activities
  • Transparency: charities must be open to GiveWell’s thorough and skeptical review of programs in addition to public reporting of review materials