2020 Giving Report
- 60% to saving lives and improving health outcomes of the world’s poorest.
- 20% to finding long-term solutions to global poverty and inequality.
- 20% to spreading happiness.
This year, I donated €12,725:
Against Malaria Foundation €6,433
Malaria Consortium €1,132
In addition to that, Google kindly matched my donation to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF).
Why Against Malaria Foundation?
AMF has been on GiveWell’s list of most effective charities for years. The organisation provides free mosquito nets in areas affected by malaria at a cost of $5 per net. It is estimated that a donation of $4,450 will save a life.
Just like last year, I chose AMF because it is highly (and demonstrably) cost-effective. I also chose it because this year basic health interventions are more important than ever, with many government programs being suspended due to the pandemic. My donation funded 4,388 nets, protecting 7,899 people in Papua New Guinea.
Why Malaria Consortium?
Rather than distributing nets, the Malaria Consortium prevents malaria in children by providing them with seasonal chemoprevention. Protecting one child costs around $7. The cost per life saved is estimated to be $3,373. While this is lower than the estimate for AMF, GiveWell considers the two programmes to be equally effective as it is impossible to calculate cost-effectiveness precisely.
Last year, I donated to Innovations for Poverty Action, an organisation that runs randomized controlled trials and works with decision-makers in target countries to facilitate the adoption of the most effective poverty interventions. This year, I decided to support J-PAL instead. While the two organisations are closely related, J-PAL engages in research that is more diverse and often more speculative. On the one hand, this means that some of the studies they fund will lead to dead ends. On the other hand, their willingness to experiment and their vast network of researchers means that they might just come up with something big.
That, and I am a die-hard fan of Esther Duflo.
In much of the world, mental health is chronically neglected. Most low- and middle-income countries spend less than $2 per person per year on mental disorder prevention and treatment. On top of that, there is very little evidence on the effectiveness of such treatments. In other words, finding a charity that works on mental health in lower-income countries and is demonstrably effective is pretty much impossible. The thing is, depression, anxiety and other disorders are not waiting around until researchers, charities and governments get together and run a randomized controlled trial or two. Almost 800M people, or more than 10% of the world’s population, were affected even before the pandemic started. Today that number is likely much higher.
StrongMinds offers group therapy to low-income women in Uganda and Zambia. Founders Pledge estimates that it costs the organisation $248 to prevent the equivalent of one year of severe major depressive disorder. The evidence is limited, so this is just a guess; however, the charity is committed to generating evidence and is transparent about their mistakes. I believe they will use my donation effectively. I also believe that in a year or two they will have stronger evidence to support their approach.
As always, this was hard
I agonise over my giving decisions. What if another charity fights malaria more effectively? What if rather than supporting poverty research it would be more effective to give to social movements? Can group therapy really treat depression?
But I also know that the decisions I made were good. Next year they might be even better. But today is Christmas, and I am going to celebrate and be grateful I can give to help others.