Examples of High-Impact Charities
These charities are considered to be high-impact charities because independent charity evaluators such as GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators have marked them as outstanding giving opportunities.
Every charity in this list is highly-cost effective and has a pressing need for more funding, so donations to any one of them will have a large impact.
These charities are divided into four cause areas: Disease Prevention, Human Empowerment, Animal Welfare, and Environment and Catastrophic Risks.
This list of high-impact charities is by no means exhaustive. The SHIC program encourages students and teachers to research charities on their own, and equips students and teachers with the necessary tools to select charities that will have the greatest social impact.
Please note that many of these charities are not registered in Canada, and Canadian donors will not receive tax benefits for giving to them.
Disease prevention is a high-impact cause area, as preventing is often more cost-effective than curing. The diseases easiest to battle are usually long gone in the developed world. This is because they’re extremely easy and cheap to treat and prevent. These are the ‘low-hanging fruit’ for reducing human suffering and saving lives.
The Against Malaria Foundation
The Against Malaria Foundation distributes long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa to combat malaria, one of the most common and easily preventable diseases facing the world today. Rigorous studies suggest these nets are the most cost-effective way of preventing malaria.
Each year, approximately half a million people die from malaria and more than 300 million fall sick. 70% of these deaths are children under five years old and malaria is one of the single biggest killers of pregnant women in the world. That’s the equivalent of four 747s of children under 5 dying from malaria every day. Yet every death is preventable. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, which provide a host for the parasite. The infection results in high fevers, nausea, aches, and sometimes death. Even if you successfully recover from malaria it can recur at anytime in the future. 90% of malaria deaths occur in Africa. The economic impacts of malaria are such that it is one of the greatest single drags on the economy of Africa.
Rigorous studies show that the most effective means of preventing malaria is using long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets, LLINs. The nets hang over a family’s sleeping area and are incredibly effective at preventing the transmission of malaria as malaria-carrying mosquitoes typically bite between 10pm and 2am.
The Against Malaria Foundation distributes LLINs in sub-Saharan Africa. Each net costs $2.50 CAD ($2 US) and lasts for three years.
The Against Malaria Foundation has been consistently ‘top ranked’ by leading charity evaluators GiveWell (they are currently GiveWell’s #1 ranked charity and have been for five of the last six years) and The Life You Can Save. Research conducted by GiveWell suggests that donating to AMF is one of the most cost-effective way to save lives and prevent non-fatal cases of malaria.
The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative works with Ministries of Health and Education in sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen to treat their populations for the parasitic “worm” infections, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH). These infections affect the poorest and most marginalised communities in the world.
The World Health Organization estimates that 206 million people have schistosomiasis and 1.5 billion have STH.
These infections can result in: anaemia, stunted growth, reduced school attendance, impaired cognitive development, reduced worker productivity, and internal organ damage.
However, studies show that treating schistosomiasis and STH can:
- Increase school attendance by up to 255
- Increase future earnings by 40%
- Reverse damaging effects of infections
The majority of SCI-supported programmes treat school-age children (5-14 years old), but can include at-risk adults.
Treatment is cost-effective. $0.60 CAD ($0.43 USD) provides treatment for one person.
Since its foundation in 2002, SCI has supported the delivery of over 159 million treatments for these infections.
The Malaria Consortium
The Malaria Consortium* distributes preventative antimalaria drugs to children under five years of age during malaria season to significantly reduce cases of the disease.
Malaria is one of the leading causes of death and sickness worldwide, with pregnant women and children under five years of age being especially vulnerable. Malaria risk increases during the rainy season—known as the malaria season in affected countries.
The Malaria Consortium’s Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention program distributes preventative antimalaria drugs to children under five during the malaria season and has been proven to reduce cases of malaria by 75%.
This program is recommended by GiveWell, which believes that with more funding, Malaria Consortium could productively scale up its Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention activities. GiveWell estimates that it costs $13 CAD ($10 USD) for a four-month treatment for one person.
Project Healthy Children
Project Healthy Children* works to reduce micronutrient deficiencies by supporting food fortification programs in small developing countries.
Micronutrient deficiencies are the leading cause of intellectual disability in children, preventable blindness among adults, and maternal death during childbirth. PHC supports governments to ensure the successful delivery of food fortification programmes for tens of millions of people.
A healthy and nutritious diet is the cornerstone to a country’s development – it is the most cost effective way to prevent disease and illness, and the most important step toward providing children the opportunity to regularly attend school and show up alert and ready to learn.
PHC monitoring programme EnAct not only works with governments to put in place quality food fortification programs similar to what is seen in developed countries, we also equip them with the tools and training needed to monitor the programs so they can be sustained and effective in the years to come.
An extremely limited amount of data exists globally on whether or not programs are actually delivering the intended amount of nutrients, thereby jeopardizing the health impact of these efforts.
EnAct intends to address this challenge by providing tools and training to enable governments, in 15 countries over 3 years, to track fortified foods delivered through national programs to ensure they contain adequate levels of nutrients (i.e. that which the national standard stipulates) needed to have a positive nutritional impact and to enable countries to act upon program gaps to improve outcomes in a timely, cost-effective, and sustainable manner.
Preventing problems before they occur frees up healthcare dollars previously spent on curing illness that should never have happened. For as little as $10,000 per year EnAct can provide governments with the resources needed to make sure the laws and policies relating to food fortification programmes are are effective and enforced. That amounts to less than one-tenth of one cent per person each year!
PHC will reach 45 million people in 2017.
People often know what’s best for them. Human Empowerment is about providing people with the knowledge and opportunities to make their lives better. Charities like these standout as excellent ways to empower who currently struggle to meet basic needs.
GiveDirectly* allows donors to give money directly to extremely poor households with no strings attached. It aims to drive efficiency in international giving by making direct transfers the benchmark on which others are evaluated. GiveDirectly is top-rated by leading charity evaluator GiveWell.
GiveDirectly provides unconditional cash transfers using cell phone technology to some of the poorest people in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. These direct cash transfers allow families to buy much-needed food and shelter, educate their children, and start small businesses.
GiveDirectly uses national data and door-to-door surveys to seek out the poorest households to receive transfers. Households are selected using criteria that vary by region — including a range of factors like housing materials, assets, vulnerable recipient status, and other criteria. Selected households are provided with SIM cards if they do not have one. GiveDirectly then transfers approximately $1300 CAD ($1,000 USD) to the family in installments over several months using a mobile payment system, and the recipients are free to use the money however they need to.
GiveDirectly is also currently launching a historic initiative on the efficacy of Universal Basic Income, scientifically testing a program of providing regular cash payments to thousands of extremely poor households in East Africa for more than ten years.
Development Media International
Development Media International* designs and delivers mass media campaigns on radio and TV to educate and promote improved health practices.
DMI runs television, radio, and mobile campaigns in developing countries to change health-related behaviours and save lives. DMI is the first organisation to have demonstrated that mass media campaigns implemented according to DMI’s methodology can change health-related behaviours and save lives.
Development Media International designs and delivers mass media campaigns on radio and TV to promote improved health practices.
The campaigns are designed to achieve the greatest impact by broadcasting frequently on popular stations, airing in local languages, and using entertaining and creative storytelling to change behaviour.
DMI uses randomized, controlled trials to generate evidence of impact based on robust evaluations and to scale up its most effective campaigns to reach millions of people.
Development Media International is a top-ranked charity of The Life You Can Save and is on GiveWell’s list of standout charities.
Living Goods* employs local workers in developing countries to go door-to-door to sell affordable health and household goods and give basic health advice to low-income families. Living Goods is a top-ranked charity of The Life You Can Save and is on GiveWell’s standout charity list.
Living Goods employs locals—predominantly women—to distribute goods and sell household items essential for health and sanitation to their communities at low prices. These locals go door-to-door to provide health advice and sell products such as simple treatments for malaria and diarrhoea, safe childbirth kits, cookstoves, water filters, solar lights, and foods fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Living Goods focuses on four areas: treating childhood diseases, offering free pregnancy and newborn check-ups, improving nutrition, and referring acute cases to qualified facilities.
Randomized controlled trials suggest that Living Goods reduces the number of children dying of preventable illnesses and creates livelihoods for thousands of enterprising women. Living Goods is a top-ranked charity of The Life You Can Save and is on GiveWell’s standout charity list.
Some of the best Animal Welfare charities focus on reducing the impact of factory farming. That’s because the atrocious conditions that these animals endure, and the large numbers of animals affected mean the scale of this problem exceeds that of any other human-caused animal suffering.
The Humane League
The Humane League* works to reduce the suffering of as many animals as possible, as effectively as possible. Through corporate campaigns, we are reforming the way farm animals are treated while our outreach and education programs inspire consumers to make more compassionate food choices.
As a result of The Humane League’s work, some of the largest food manufacturers, food service providers, and restaurant chains—including General Mills, Aramark, and Subway—have implemented policies that will reduce the suffering of millions of animals.
Our extensive network of activists and supporters can be found across the globe, advocating for farm animals in some of the largest and most influential regions of the world. In the US and Canada, our Campus Organizer program trains next-generation activists at colleges and universities, arming them with the skills they need to effectively advocate for animals.
In 2015, The Humane League initiated the Open Wing Alliance, a coalition of partner organizations spanning six continents. Through grants and training, we work with these partners towards the singular goal of ending cage confinement for egg-laying hens.
To further our commitment to effectiveness, Humane League Labs is constantly evaluating and testing various advocacy and education methods to determine which have the highest impact. As a result, we are able to bring a pragmatic and objective approach to our work, utilizing our resources in the most efficient and productive ways.
Animal Equality* is an international organization working with society, governments and companies to end cruelty to farmed animals. Animal Equality educates the public on the intense cruelty of factory farming and inspires people to adopt compassionate food choices. They work with companies to change their policies to reduce the suffering of animals and engage government policymakers to take immediate action for animals. Animal Equality investigators have been to more than 700 hundred factory farms and slaughterhouses in three continents and eight countries exposing the horrific realities of industrial farming.
Animal Equality’s investigations inside rabbit farms in Italy and Spain have paved the way to end cruel cages for nearly 330 million rabbits in Europe. Their investigation of slaughterhouses in Mexico led to historic initiative to protect farmed animals in the Mexican Senate. Their drone investigations in India and Spain were the first of their kind. Their investigation inside British pig farms led to the sentencing of two workers on multiple counts of animal cruelty and their investigation inside Spanish pig farms led to the historic prosecution of two workers for animal abuse.
In 2017, Animal Equality released 23 groundbreaking investigations in seven countries, won 42 corporate policies that will end some of the worst forms of cruelty for millions of animals, and appeared in 2,600 media stories with a media reach of over 2.2 billion.
Animal Equality was named a Top Charity by Animal Charity Evaluators, a distinction earned three out of the last four years, and a testament to their effectiveness, impact, and value.
The Good Food Institute
The Good Food Institute* is dedicated to creating a healthy, humane and sustainable food supply. By working with scientists, entrepreneurs and investors, GFI is developing ideas to tackle poverty, climate change and animal welfare through the promotion of plant-based and clean meat, dairy, and eggs.
The mission of The Good Food Institute is to create a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply. GFI was born out of the Effective Altruism movement and is laser-focused on achieving maximum possible impact for animals, the environment, sustainability, and global health.
Achieving transformational and permanent change in the global food system will require creating and promoting choices for consumers that outcompete industrially-produced meat, dairy, and eggs on the basis of price, taste, and convenience.
GFI focuses on accelerating the market expansion of affordable and appetizing plant-based and clean alternatives. No other nonprofit is harnessing market forces and food technology to transform animal agriculture.
GFI is achieving this through:
- Collaborating with top universities for entrepreneurship, synthetic and plant biology, and tissue engineering to create private and public sector activity focused on advancing plant-based and clean products.
- Working with leading-edge plant-based and clean foods startups on communications, regulatory work, business plans, and all aspects of their success to mobilize markets and food technology toward maximum transformation away from animal-based products.
- Creating collaborative relationships with restaurants, grocery stores, food processing, and foodservice companies to maximize the quality, quantity, and promotion of plant-based alternatives to animal products.
- Educating large grant-making institutions, corporations, and governments about the value of R&D in this field as a critical component in addressing sustainability, climate change, and global hunger.
GFI is committed to ensuring that the organization is among the world’s most cost-effective non-profit organizations. GFI strives to ensure that all donor dollars are focused on creating the most possible good for animals, the environment, and global health.
GFI earned Top Charity recognition from Animal Charity Evaluators.
Environmental and Catastrophic Risk Prevention
One of the most effective ways of doing good is to take action now to reduce the chances of catastrophic harm occurring in the future. Charities like these are some of the best places to donate to ensure a brighter future.
Admittedly the effects of these charities are harder to measure, because their aims are to prevent terrible things from happening in the future. Consequently, charities that focus on preventing future risks can be judged on the scale of the potential disaster they aim to avert, and their likelihood of success.
Cool Earth* helps prevent deforestation by partnering with indigenous villages to build sustainable livelihoods so they earn more by keeping rainforests standing, rather than clearing them. This reduces climate change and preserves the rich biodiversity of the rainforest.
Rainforests are vast carbon sinks, manufacturers of oxygen and fresh water, and homes for 10 million species—many of which are endangered and may soon become extinct due to deforestation.
Cool Earth is working alongside 113 indigenous villages throughout the world, providing them with resources to build their livelihoods so they don’t need to rely on money from logging. These partner villages are protecting over 200 square kilometres of forest that lie directly in the path of chainsaws and bulldozers.
Cool Earth only works with villages that approach them, and the villagers drive the partnership. A village decides what it needs most and how funds are spent—on anything from clean water or a new classroom, to midwife training and mosquito nets.
Independent charity evaluator Giving What We Can believes donating to Cool Earth is the most cost-effective way of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide. They estimate that for $1.90 CAD ($1.50 USD), Cool Earth prevents a tonne of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere — that is approximately the amount of carbon dioxide produced in driving a late-model car for 8000 km. For approximately $500 CAD (~$400 USD), the organization saves one hectare of rainforest.
Machine Intelligence Research Institute
The Machine Intelligence Research Institute* is a research nonprofit. MIRI’s mission is to develop tools for the design and analysis of general-purpose AI systems, with the aim of making such superintelligent systems more reliably aligned with human interests.
MIRI is a research nonprofit. MIRI’s mission is to develop tools for the design and analysis of general-purpose AI systems, with the aim of making such superintelligent systems more reliably aligned with human interests.
Many discussions of the possibility of human-equivalent general intelligence are often relegated to the realms of science fiction. However, researchers largely agree that AI is likely to begin outperforming humans on most cognitive tasks in this century. MIRI’s work is aimed at helping jump-start a paradigm of AI research that is conscious of the field’s long-term impact. The team at MIRI is focused on developing the mathematical theory of trustworthy reasoning for advanced autonomous AI systems.
Future of Humanity Institute
The Future of Humanity Institute* aims to reduce global catastrophic risk by researching big issues facing the future of humanity, from pandemics to advanced artificial intelligence.
The Future of Humanity Institute is a multidisciplinary research institute at the University of Oxford that enables leading researchers to bring the tools of mathematics, philosophy, and science to bear on big‐picture questions about humanity and its prospects.They aim to focus their research where they believe it could have the most impact on future generations.
The institute pursues questions that are critically important for humanity’s future, yet unduly neglected. All of its inquiries address problems for which people have useful new insights and at least some ideas for solutions.
Its work includes:
- Ensuring artificial intelligence is developed safely
- Technology forecasting & risk assessment
- Improving government and industry policy
The Future of Humanity Institute is supported by the Open Philanthropy Project which aims to find and fund outstanding giving opportunities.
*Please note that this charity is not a qualified donee in Canada. Canadian donors cannot receive tax benefits from donating to this charity.