Hewlett Foundation Makes Grant to GiveWell

[Please note the clarification I wrote regarding this post]

GiveWell has announced that they’ve received a $100,000 grant from the Hewlett Foundation (which has a program focused on improving philanthropy). This pretty much shuts down completely any argument around the validity of GiveWell’s research. The people who criticized GiveWell’s research at the beginning of the year were wrong.

GiveWell also announces their top four charities. While I agree with most of the Wall Street Journal’s story of the limited value of quantitative charity research, GiveWell is the real deal.

Lastly GiveWell announces that they’ve partnered with the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program. This is one of the national donor advised fund groups. So GiveWell has just created a version of what I advocated for in my recent community foundation column in the Financial Times. GiveWell will focus exclusively on identifying great nonprofits and Vanguard will handle all of the administration of client accounts.


  1. Suzy says:

    “This pretty much shuts down completely any argument around the validity of GiveWell’s research.” Really? This from the man who advocates for foundations talking about their failures? Are you really so sure this isn’t one of those grants Hewlett will look back on and wonder…

    As I read Givewell, there is still a lot of caveats, and best guesses going on. I’ll let others argue the merits of the approach (as you have here) but I question letting such inexperienced folks carry the banner for empirical evaluation of nonprofit organizations.

  2. Jim Fruchterman says:

    I have the same reaction. What does getting a $100,000 grant have to do with addressing research validity? That caught my eye: I still don’t know what the critiques were or are: all I know is that grants don’t have anything to do with research validity…

    And of course, the only thing I knew about GiveWell was that it had a scandal like the WholeFoods CEO scandal: anonymous internet pumping of an organization by its CEO.

  3. Jim and Suzy, I posted a follow up on the Hewlett grant to explain my thinking more.

    You can find it here.

  4. Jim Fruchterman says:

    Oops. Didn’t see the clarification in the feed I read, so I failed to spot it when I commented. Sorry!

  5. ani hurwitz says:

    I just looked at givewell’s instructions for its advanc donor program. the “relationship” with vanguard looks pretty cumbersome.