Which charity is the most cost-effective?
May 13, 2009 12:20 PM   Subscribe

What is the most cost-effective charity I can donate money to online, in terms of welfare increased per euro donated?

I'd like to donate money to a charity, preferably one in the developing world because I want my money to be used as efficiently as possible. Which charity's work saves the most lives (etc) per euro donated?

I know that it's tough to compare different positives with others (how can you compare, say, restoring somebody's sight with giving someone an artificial limb in terms of utility?) so this will have to be a rough measure, but I want my money to have the highest marginal utility possible.

This isn't a question about overheads – those don't necessarily matter. Nor does the country in question. I'd prefer to avoid politically active charities. Thanks!

I'm in Ireland, if that's relevant.
posted by SamuelBowman to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think you'll need to clarify your metric, unless you're asking what the metric should be.

Is it lives per euro?
lives * years per euro? (e.g. saving a baby is "worth" more than saving an adult)
lives * years * happiness per euro? (e.g. restoring sight, artificial limb)
posted by nyc_consultant at 12:32 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Peter Singer discusses this question in his latest book The Life You Can Save, both what charities are good and what metrics can be used to evaluate their effectiveness. Coincidentally Singer relies a great deal on Givewell, a ranking organization that earned the everlasting spite of Metafilter in a stunningly poorly planned and executed astro-turfing campaign.
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:00 PM on May 13, 2009

Goodness, my first borked link. The Life You Can Save
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:01 PM on May 13, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for that – there are actually some good replies to the question in that astroturfing thread (beyond the, yknow, astroturfing ones) that are quite helpful.
posted by SamuelBowman at 1:19 PM on May 13, 2009

I read a lot of Public Health / Development / Africa blogs, and somewhere at some point, one of them plugged their personal favorite charity as far as good done per dollar. It was de-worming school children. Doses are incredibly cheap compared to the benefit. I tried to dig it up, but I couldn't. It may be this.
posted by gensubuser at 4:04 PM on May 13, 2009

You need to give some thought to what exactly you want to accomplish and then compare charities that share your goals. One great tool for the comparison part of this is Charity Navigator.

If you're looking to improve health in the developing world I would recommend PATH. I only bring that up because your questions examples were both health related.
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 4:10 PM on May 13, 2009

While I think your heart is in the right place and I wish only the best on you for wanting to donate, I've written before about trying to find that org that gets the most dollar into the field, here. (I work for a large humanitarian NGO, so I'm rather opinionated on the issue, fwiw.)

I'd encourage you to review the vision/mission statements of organizations that you're interested in and then give to the one that most lines up with the change you'd like to see in the world. I've posted a decent list of such orgs before, here.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:26 AM on May 14, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies! I've decided to go for some Kiva microloans and to donate to Deworm the World.
posted by SamuelBowman at 9:49 AM on May 14, 2009

« Older Improving texture in a vegetarian diet   |   Can you deliver to a kayak? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.