Billions of dollars are spent each year on interventions intended to reduce extreme poverty. But many of those interventions fall short — or even fail — because they have not been properly tested before being brought to scale, or because the organizations that implement them are ineffective. The result is a waste of donor money and continued suffering for the extreme poor whose lives do not end up being improved.
The type of research conducted by meta-charities like The Life You Can Save and nonprofits like our recommended research charity (Innovations for Poverty Action) is the best defense against exactly that. Creating rigorous knowledge about effective interventions to fight global poverty and finding the best organizations to implement them needs serious investments in data and evidence tools — including randomized controlled trials and natural experiments (the subjects of the 2019 and 2020 Nobel Prizes in economics, respectively), big data and machine learning, systematic meta-analyses and charity evaluation research.
To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it…is neither in every man’s power, nor an easy matter.
Nearly all charities we recommend use these gold standard research tools to establish that their programs can sustainably improve life for the global poor. For the best way to support this work, we recommend our new Research Fund to support our in-house research and evaluation activities, which include developing a new charity evaluation framework, investigating new cause areas, researching charities in new geographies, undertaking cost-effectiveness analysis and exploring innovative and impactful approaches to change. In addition, it will support small discretionary grants, both to external research organisations to help fill gaps in our knowledge of what works, and to help nonprofits improve their monitoring and evaluation work and build evidence about the effectiveness of their interventions.
Alternatively, you can choose to support our recommended research charity (Innovations for Poverty Action) , which has conducted many of the randomized controlled trials our other charity recommendations rely on to guide their work.