Buying Christmas presents is always difficult. Tim Harford had some great advice in the Financial Times – his best tip was to “adopt a passive gift-buyer strategy”, by giving something you know the recipients can use, such as hard cash, along with time and attention.
There is another kind of Christmas giving where it makes sense to combine hard cash, time and attention: charitable donations. I wrote a piece for the Guardian in 2013 about charity evaluators and two British charities that they rated very highly, Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI).
They still do. GiveWell, a US research organisation, currently recommends AMF and SCI as the two charities it believes can make the most efficient use of individuals’ donations. Giving What We Can, a UK campaign group, and Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save in Australia both list AMF and SCI among their top charities.
AMF, founded by Rob Mather, funds $US2 (£1.50) anti-malaria long-lasting insecticidal nets, with 100% of public donations doing that (the administrative costs are met by private donors and pro bono work). AMF is web-based and transparent, showing where your donation funds nets – there have been 63.8m so far.
SCI is run as part of Imperial College London, which has charitable status, where it was founded by Alan Fenwick, professor of tropical parasitology. It funds treatments for ministries of health in sub-Saharan Africa for parasitic diseases, costing as little as 50p per person per year. It too puts all of its donations into its life-saving work. It has helped deliver 140m treatments for schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.
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