To figure out which charities work, we use the most reliable form of experiment known - randomized-controlled trials (RCTs). These trials allow us to get past anecdotes and see whether a charity actually makes a difference or whether the improvement would have happened regardless of their actions. We also require multiple studies because one study could be a fluke or heavily biased. Our methodology leads us to find charities that are as close to proven as we can get.
Have Room for More Funding
In contrast to what most charities will tell you, many of them don’t need any more money. In fact, any additional funds will just go into savings or be spent on a program that you don’t want to support. This is why it’s critical to ask a charity you're that considering donating to what your gift will fund on margin.
If you can find a charity that will save lives for half the price of your previous pick, that’s a great deal. And indeed, some interventions can help many more people for the same price. For example, you can save many more lives by preventing malaria in the first place than you can by treating people who are already infected. The exciting thing about this is that if you think about cost-effectiveness when you give, you can help more people than a billionaire philanthropist who doesn’t consider his donations.
A charity could have all of the above features yet not tell you what they’re actually doing with your money. If so, its many advantages are all for nothing. It’s also hard to trust a charity that keeps this sort of information under wraps. This is why it's so critical that a charity be public about its finances, projects, and general activities.