End of the year charitable donations

We’ve made a number of posts on the topic of charitable giving in the past.  Since many charitable donations happen toward the end of the year, I will be posting a few additional guidelines and suggestions to keep in mind for those donating soon.  Most of today’s guidelines come via GiveWell, and are most helpful for people still trying to decide where to allocate some of their charitable funds (though some of the information will be helpful for everyone).

The more I read about GiveWell, the more impressed by them — they investigate relatively few charities, but their investigations are extremely in depth, and give a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of the organization as well as other important factors (e.g., whether or not the organization currently needs money).  They are very transparent about their methods, as well.  The downside is that they address only a few types of charities, currently.

GiveWell has a Giving 101 guide to making wise contributions.  They also have a list of top-rated charities (about to change in December — the top-rated charities on the current list no longer need short-term funding, so keep watching for the updated list) and a list of celebrated charities they don’t recommend, with explanations of their rationale for each.

The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy presents empirical evidence about social programs that work.  Some of these interventions are not connected to specific charitable organizations or programs, but many of them are.


  1. Paul Penley Said,

    November 15, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    If you want the happy medium between GiveWell’s in-depth analysis (which I love and which we do just as in-depth for foundations we serve) and the lighter ratings at Charity Navigator or BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance, you should check out http://www.IntelligentPhilanthropy.com. The Intelligent PhilanthropyTM platform provides a dynamic, searchable database of nonprofit Analytical Overviews that help you analyze the performance of U.S.-based nonprofits in just 5 minutes. Each Analytical Overview is a succinct, annually updated 2-page presentation of 120 critical data points about leadership, finances, sustainability, strategy, and impact. You can search the database by topic, location, people served, leader, organization name, etc. If you can’t find an organization among the hundreds in the database right now, individual subscribers can request up to 5 new Analytical Overviews and receive notification in 60 days when added to the database. To move from just giving with good intentions to confident giving based on clear impact and operational information, Intelligent Philanthropy is the best option under development. I have just begun an effort to explain how to use 30 standards for nonprofit health and performance to complete the most comprehensive yet simple analysis of nonprofit performance yet.

  2. lauren Said,

    November 15, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

    Thanks, Paul! It’s always great to hear about more resources, and I look forward to reviewing this one in more detail soon. One important difference that I notice between your service and some of the other sites is that Intelligent Philanthropy costs money (not inherently a bad thing, but a major difference). Also, I noticed that many of the topics and organizations on the site are religious — does the site have a religious affiliation?

  3. Ellen Said,

    November 18, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been reading through material at GiveWell and find it fascinating — especially their disrecommendations for charities I was inclined to support!