SHIC’s Recommended Charities 2017

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Posted by Baxter Bullock, May 16, 2017

Why SHIC is updating its list
 

When Students for High-Impact Charity (SHIC) was founded in early 2016, we knew that the organization would need to go beyond teaching about which factors make a charity high-impact. We would offer a list of recommended charities so that those who are new to the concepts we espouse would be provided tangible examples of causes and charities that are among the best in the world (by metrics related to reducing suffering). The list was not meant to be comprehensive of all high-impact charities, but we felt it was adequately representative (without feeling overwhelming) of causes to be covered by SHIC’s material.

At the end of 2016, both Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) and GiveWell, two reputable charity evaluators, updated their top recommendations for the giving season. You can find GiveWell’s latest recommendations here and ACE’s here.

Since then, we’ve decided reevaluate SHIC’s list of recommended charities. Though SHIC will continue to maintain a relatively broad stance with regards to cause selection, we would still like to recommend charities front and center that adequately represent the values we see as critical to being high-impact, as we feel it’s important to give students concrete examples as models for highly effective charities.  

In addition, SHIC has always maintained the policy of recommending charities making direct impact rather than “meta-charities” (charities whose primary purpose is to support other specific charities). This is because SHIC aims to introduce effective giving to an audience who may be new to the concept of charity evaluators. Recommending meta-charities takes students a step away from direct impact. 

The SHIC program will nonetheless continue promoting selected charity evaluators and “meta-charities” through our curriculum. We will maintain focus on the importance of forming one’s own opinion based on critical thinking, while providing the tools and roadmaps that can aid in forming those conclusions.

Moreover, supporting carefully chosen charities signals the implicit value of specific ethical approaches we endorse and would like to instill within students as a logical foundation for doing the most good in the world. Some of these concepts include:

  • Interventions with strong evidence for high cost-effectiveness are preferable when such data is available.

  • When cost-effectiveness information is unavailable, assess a cause based on its counterfactual impact, solvability, and neglectedness.

  • If we value all human lives equally, we’re generally better off supporting interventions in developing countries than developed ones.

  • Non-human animal lives and lives in the future are important to consider when prioritizing causes.

  • When possible, we should respect the preferences of those we’re aiming to help. Oftentimes the global poor can best identify their own self-interests.

  • Factory farming is by far the greatest source of non-human animal suffering currently caused by humans.

  • It’s important to recognize we don’t have all the answers and to continually update our viewpoints based on new evidence.

Charities remaining on the list
 

From our original list, the following charities will remain among SHIC’s Recommended Charities:

  • The Against Malaria Foundation – provides long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets.

  • Mercy for Animals – spreads awareness about the horrors of factory farming.

  • Cool Earth – forms partnerships with villages bordering rainforests to determine the best ways to protect them.

  • Schistosomiasis Control Initiative – implements deworming programs to rid children of neglected tropical diseases.

  • GiveDirectly – provides unconditional cash transfers to help people escape poverty.

  • Development Media International –  promotes healthy living in developing countries through radio programming.

  • Future of Humanity Institute – researches potential causes of and solutions to global catastrophic risks.

  • Living Goods – employees locals in developing countries to sell affordable health-related items door-to-door.

Charities added to the list
 

The following charities will be added to SHIC’s list of Recommended Charities:

  • Malaria Consortium – for their seasonal malaria chemoprevention program.

  • Project Healthy Children – food nutrient fortification.

  • The Humane League – interventions including corporate outreach for veganism.

  • The Good Food Institute – promotion and development of meat/dairy alternatives.

  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute – studying responsible implementation of artificial intelligence.

Subgrouping recommended charities
 

To make our growing list of charities more digestible, we have divided charities into their respective cause areas. We recognize that some charities could fall into multiple subgroups, but don’t see this as significant concern. This division allows visitors/participants to pick up on the general themes we endorse much more easily than if we simply listed the charities. 
 

Disease Prevention

  • Against Malaria Foundation

  • Schistosomiasis Control Initiative

  • Malaria Consortium

  • Project Healthy Children

Human Empowerment

  • GiveDirectly

  • Development Media International

  • Living Goods

Animal Welfare

  • Mercy for Animals

  • Humane LeagueThe

  • The Good Food Institute

Environmental and Catastrophic Risk

  • Cool Earth

  • Future of Humanity Institute

  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute

Our Reasoning
 

Why we added…
 

Malaria Consortium (seasonal chemoprevention program)
The Malaria Consortium (MC) has recently been added to GiveWell’s list of top charities for their work implementing seasonal malaria chemoprevention. Though we already have a charity that focuses on malaria, this is a completely different intervention that complements bednets. Further, we thought emphasizing malaria as one of the biggest and most preventable problems facing the world would be an important stance for SHIC to take.


Project Healthy Children
Many of GiveWell’s standout charities (four out of six) promote food fortification and salt iodization, so we feel this is an important cause to highlight on our list. GiveWell did not rank these programs, so we landed on Project Healthy Children because of the focus on children, which also promotes a healthy “kids helping kids” dynamic within SHIC.


The Humane League
The Humane League is one of Animal Charity Evaluator’s top charities. By adding the Humane League to our list, we’re providing more variety to animal charity causes with a focus on corporate outreach and evidence-based support of advocacy groups.


The Good Food Institute
The Good Food Institute is a new Animal Charity Evaluators top charity that presents an exciting new dimension to the animal welfare movement. As above, this diversifies the animal causes we support and we’re attracted to the idea of supporting competitive alternatives to animal-based food products.


The Machine Intelligence Research Institute
Many great minds consider artificial intelligence the most significant threat to human existence, and The Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) is perhaps the most effective organization in this field. Though we are keeping the Future of Humanity Institute on our list due to its broader approach to existential risk, we feel that artificial intelligence deserves special attention.


Why we removed…
 

Animal Equality International
Besides its removal from ACE’s list of top charities, we find the main focus of Animal Equality International to be a bit redundant with top charity Mercy for Animals, already on the list.


Why we didn’t include…
 

Other GiveWell top charities for deworming (END Fund, Sightsavers, Deworm the World)
We want to support a wide range of causes, without over-investing in any. We feel this is important as one of SHIC’s main goals is to help students think critically and form their own conclusions. According to GiveWell, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative is the deworming charity with the most room for funding. Additionally, all of the other deworming charities support other initiatives beyond what GiveWell has identified as effective, so we thought this would help avoid confusion.


Other GiveWell standout charities (Food Fortification Initiative, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Iodine Global Network)
Similar to our reasoning for not including other deworming charities, these charities all focus on food fortification and salt iodization. Within our list, Project Healthy Children already targets this cause, so adding any of these could be seen as redundant.


Other Animal Charity Evaluators standout charities
We feel the three animal welfare charities we’ve chosen (which cover the entirety of ACE’s list of top charities) are representative of the range of evidence-based interventions in the cause area. Further, many of ACE’s standouts have less evidence backing them.

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Overall, we feel that SHIC’s list of thirteen recommended charities is diverse and sufficiently comprehensive. We will be reevaluating this list at least once a year in conjunction with updates from charity evaluators. Beyond that, further alterations to this list will be made on a case-by-case basis.