Suggestions for Individual Donors from Open Philanthropy Staff – 2023

In past years, we sometimes published suggestions for individual donors looking for organizations to support. This post shares new suggestions from Open Philanthropy program staff who chose to provide them.

Similar caveats to previous years apply:

  • These are reasonably strong options in the relevant focus area, and shouldn’t be taken as outright recommendations (i.e., it isn’t necessarily the case that the person making a suggestion thinks that their suggestion is the best option available across all causes).
  • The recommendations below fall within the cause areas Open Philanthropy has chosen to focus on. While this list does not expressly include GiveWell’s top charities, we believe those organizations to be among the most cost-effective, evidence-backed giving opportunities available to donors today, and expect that some readers of this post might want to give to them.
  • Many of these recommendations appear here because they are particularly good fits for individual donors. This shouldn’t be seen as a list of our strongest grantees overall (although of course there may be overlap).
  • Our explanations for why these are strong giving opportunities are very brief and informal, and we don’t expect individuals to be persuaded by them unless they put a lot of weight on the judgment of the person making the suggestion.

In addition, these recommendations are made by the individual program officers or teams cited, and do not necessarily represent my (Alexander’s) personal or Open Philanthropy’s institutional “all things considered” view.

1. Global Health and Development

1.1 1Day Sooner

Recommended by Chris Smith

What is it? 1Day Sooner (1DS) was originally created during 2020 to advocate for increased use of human challenge trials in Covid vaccines, and named on the basis that making vaccines available even one day sooner would be hugely beneficial.

1DS is now expanding its work to look at other diseases where challenge trials could be safe, such as hepatitis C (where Open Philanthropy has also supported research on developing new vaccine candidates). Open Philanthropy has supported 1DS from both our GHW and GCR portfolios.

Why I suggest it: Recently, 1DS have been working on accelerating the global rollout of vaccines beyond the increased use of challenge trials, such as their current campaign on R21. R21 is an effective malaria vaccine (developed in part by Open Philanthropy Program Officer Katharine Collins while she was at the Jenner Institute). It was recommended for use by WHO in October 2023, but with plans to only distribute fewer than 20 million doses in 2024 — despite the manufacturer claiming the ability to make 100 million doses available. You can read an op-ed on this from Zacharia Kafuko, Africa Director of 1DS, in Foreign Policy.

If 1DS can diversify its funding base and find more donors, they’d have the capacity to take on other projects that could accelerate vaccine development and distribution. I’ve been impressed with their work on both policy and advocacy, and I plan to support them myself this year. (Also, personally, I really enjoy supporting smaller organizations as a donor; I find that this helps me “feel” the difference more than if I’d donated to a large organization.)

How to donate: You can donate here.

1.2 Center for Global Development

Recommended by Lauren Gilbert

What is it? The Center for Global Development (CGD) is a Washington D.C.-based think tank. They conduct research on and promote evidence-based improvements to policies that affect the global poor.

Why I suggest it: We’ve supported CGD for many years and have recommended it for individual donors in previous years. CGD has an impressive track record, and it continues to do impactful work on educationlead exposure, and global health. I’m not sure exactly what impact new marginal funding will have or what projects it will support, but given that we’ve consistently found new reasons to fund CGD, I see it as a good bet for donors interested in development policy.

How to donate: You can donate here.

1.3 Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination

Recommended by Jacob Trefethen

What is it? The Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination (CGHE) works with public health bodies to reduce the incidence of viral hepatitis, building awareness of available tools and providing technical assistance.

Why I suggest it: Hepatitis C and hepatitis B each kill 300,000 to 800,000 people a year globally, due to liver complications from chronic infections. There are now several cures for hepatitis C, and countries like Egypt have shown that with sufficiently ambitious health programs, hepatitis C can be virtually eliminated. There are several affordable drugs available to control chronic hepatitis B infections, but hepatitis B is underdiagnosed and undertreated in many countries.

I believe CGHE could do more with additional funding, and its international focus makes that work likely to be impactful in countries with high burdens of viral hepatitis. CGHE is a better fit for most individual donors than many of our science-focused grantees (since it can be challenging for individuals to support e.g. specific researchers within a university). I made a personal donation to CGHE last year and will likely do so again this year.

How to donate: You can donate online here. Make sure to enter “Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination” in the box under “provide the program name below”.

1.4 Organizations addressing global lead poisoning

Recommended by Emily Oehlsen

What are they? I am recommending directing donations to address global lead poisoning. Open Philanthropy and GiveWell have supported three organizations doing this work: Pure Earth (also recommended by Chris Smith), Lead Exposure Elimination Project, and the Center for Global Development (also recommended by Lauren Gilbert).

Why we suggest them: Globally, 1 in 3 children have blood lead above the WHO’s recommended level of 5µg/dL. Countries in Central, East, and West Africa, and in South Asia, are particularly affected by high lead exposure (map of average blood lead levels, based on IHME/Pure Earth/UNICEF data). According to the Global Burden of Disease study, lead exposure accounts for ~900,000 deaths (~22 million DALYs) globally, primarily through cardiovascular disease (lead raises blood pressure). Additionally, lead exposure in childhood impairs cognitive development, and consequently reduces adult wages.

2023 was a big year for the lead elimination movement:

  • Stanford and icddr,b researchers published a paper on removing lead from spices in Bangladesh.
  • The Lead Exposure Elimination Project updated their paint study in Malawi to confirm that lead had been removed from the most popular brand of paint.
  • The Center for Global Development’s working group published a call to action on ending childhood lead poisoning, based on two years of research and analysis on the causes and solutions of this neglected global health challenge.
  • Pure Earth published the results of their rapid market screening, a 25-country analysis of lead in over 5,000 products and foods which found high lead levels in cosmetics, toys, foodware and other sources across countries.

But globally, lead exposure is still a neglected philanthropic issue, with less than $10 million in funding per year. In November, we added a new cause area to our Global Health and Wellbeing portfolio, Global Public Health Policy, which I am particularly excited about. Through that program, we anticipate expanding funding beyond the grantees listed above to tackle more sources of lead exposure and more geographies where it is an acute issue.

How to donate: You can donate to LEEP (which focuses only on lead) here, Pure Earth (which focuses on lead and mercury) here, and CGD (which focuses on a range of projects) here.

2. Effective Altruism (Global Health and Wellbeing)

All recommendations come from James Snowden

2.1 Charity Entrepreneurship

What is it? Charity Entrepreneurship runs an incubation program whose participants work to found new charities in highly neglected areas. You can see some of the charities they’ve launched here.

Why I suggest it: In recent years, charities launched through Charity Entrepreneurship’s program have been some of the most successful organizations on the global health and wellbeing side of the EA movement. At least five of the charities they’ve incubated have received funding from GiveWell or Open Philanthropy. My impression is that Charity Entrepreneurship has sufficient funding for its short-term needs, but I’m recommending them anyway because I think ensuring that successful organizations have stable and well-diversified funding sources is a good fit for many donors.

How to donate: You can donate here.

2.2 Probably Good

What is it? Probably Good provides advice to people who want to use their careers to have a highly positive impact on the world. It produces impact-focused profiles of different career paths, and offers suggestions both for increasing one’s impact within a given path and branching out into different careers that make use of similar skills.

Why I suggest it: While 80,000 Hours offers detailed coverage of career paths focused on global catastrophic risks, Probably Good fills an important unmet need for advice outside of those areas. I’ve been impressed by the increasing quality of their research and reports as they’ve grown. My impression is that the organization is severely constrained by a lack of funding, and I think additional support could help them reach many more people.

Editor’s note: Probably Good was also suggested by another staff member — Andrew Snyder-Beattie from Open Philanthropy’s Biosecurity team.

How to donate: You can donate here.

2.3 National giving organizations

What are they? Several organizations work to raise funds for highly effective charities, with a focus on different countries and languages:

These organizations share information on charities, create social groups and meetups for donors, and provide easy and often tax-advantaged ways for people to donate (it can be complex for donors to support charities located in other countries).

Why I suggest them: For each dollar these organizations spend, they raise several times that for the charities they recommend — money that I don’t otherwise think would have gone toward highly effective charities. My prospective estimates generally range between a 5x and 15x return on donations (this refers to average returns on donations; returns on marginal donations would be lower, and more challenging to estimate).

While the organizations differ somewhat in their cost-effectiveness so far, they are all close enough that none clearly dominate the others, and I’d be excited to see all of them grow. All of these organizations are Open Philanthropy grantees, but we try to avoid being an organization’s sole funder, and so my understanding is that they all have funding gaps.

How to donate: Visit the above links to each organization.

3. Farm Animal Welfare

All recommendations come from Lewis Bollard and Amanda Hungerford

3.1 EA Animal Welfare Fund

What is it? The EA Animal Welfare Fund seeks to identify and fund the most promising neglected opportunities to reduce animal suffering. These typically end up being smaller groups in neglected nations or work on neglected topics.

Why we suggest it: The Fund is a simple way to support a more diverse portfolio of groups that you can easily support directly. For example, the Fund’s 2023 grants to date have included work across five continents and multiple species. The Fund’s open application allows it to support novel projects, including by individuals and new groups, that wouldn’t get supported otherwise. We also trust the fund’s seven managers, who are some of the most experienced and thoughtful researchers and advocates in the movement.

How to donate: You can donate here.

3.2 The Humane League

What is it? The Humane League (THL) campaigns globally to end the abuse of animals raised for food. Its Open Wing Alliance unites over 100 groups across 67 countries in a shared goal to eliminate battery cages.

Why we suggest it: THL and its Open Wing Alliance have played the leading role in securing thousands of corporate animal welfare pledges globally. It has led hard-hitting US corporate campaigns to eliminate battery cages and the worst abuses of broiler chickens from their supply chains. And it has coordinated, trained, and funded the member groups of the Open Wing Alliance, which have secured increasing numbers of global animal welfare pledges from multinationals. We also have a consistently high impression of THL’s strategic focus on helping the most animals it can.

How to donate: You can donate here.


Want to donate to both? The Giving What We Can Effective Animal Advocacy Fund splits your funding between these two standout opportunities. You can donate here.

4. Land Use Reform

4.1 Open New York

Recommended by Sam Donald

What is it? Open New York advocates for increasing the supply of housing throughout the state of New York.

Why I suggest it: In our land use reform portfolio, we aim to increase the supply of housing in large metro areas where more permissive policy could encourage economic growth and innovation, increase earnings (especially for low-income residents), and lower carbon emissions. Although attempts at statewide reform failed in 2023, the New York metropolitan area — the largest in the US, with some of the least affordable housing in the country — is a key location for reform, and Open New York is the most prominent group fighting for impactful policy changes.

Where to donate: You can donate here. Note that Open New York is a 501c4, not a 501c3, so your donations are not tax-deductible.

5. Potential Risks from Artificial Intelligence

5.1 Horizon Institute for Public Service

Recommended by Julian Hazell

What is it? The Horizon Institute for Public Service offers a range of programs that support subject-matter experts in entering policy and government careers.

Why I suggest it: We think government has an important role to play in navigating the societal impacts of advances in emerging technologies, including AI and biotechnology, and that its ability to do this effectively depends a lot on government offices having access to sufficient in-house expertise. Horizon has an excellent track record of attracting talented fellows from a wide variety of professional and technical backgrounds and helping them transition into policy careers.

Horizon’s work has already meaningfully added to the knowledge base around AI in DC, and there is a lot of room for growth; experts are in high demand across many government agencies and think tanks. Now that it has hit its one-year mark and established a track record of results, we are excited for Horizon to further diversify its donor base so that OP becomes a minority contributor. For donors that share our interest in AI risks specifically and global catastrophic risks more generally, it’s worth noting that Horizon’s fellows and resources are focused on a wide range of policy issues, including many beyond that umbrella.

How to donate: You can donate here.