The World’s Most Effective Charity
There are so many charities vying for our attention these days and justifiably so. You can’t help them all, and with so many worthy and important causes to choose from, it can feel almost impossible to decide which one to donate to. Many choose a cause close to their heart or someone they know. Others want to support a charity but don't know which one to support. This decision can be difficult when there are over 55,000 registered charities in Australia and there can be a lack of transparency as to where the money you provide is actually going. A new movement has surfaced which has helped provide people with a framework of how to choose a charity based on important factors like transparency, impact and how effective the charity is in utilising money received to change lives for the better. This movement is called "Effective Altruism".
As philosopher Peter Singer stated in his book The Most Good You Can Do, people are more motivated to act by emotional stories rather than factual evidence and he’s probably right. People are more driven by emotion than by what can sometimes appear as "boring statistics", but that doesn’t necessarily lead to the right decision. The whole point of Effective Altruism is to use evidence and analysis to decide on the best causes to support and follow through with action.
While this makes sense, it also raises another problem which is "I don't have the time to research all the various charities to see which one is the most effective". Luckily there are charity evaluators that do this for you.
Charity Evaluators' top ranked Charity
Givewell lists three requirements to determine a good charity: 1) their solution is proven to work, 2) they actually do what they say they do, and 3) they are currently underfunded. Based on those requirements, Givewell has rated the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) as their top charity. In fact, it was Givewell’s top-rated charity in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016. You don’t have to put all your faith into Givewell either, as AMF has been top-rated since 2012 by "Giving What We Can" and "The Life You Can Save". AMF is also the chosen charity of numerous businesses, including Cartridges4Charity, Run to Better Days, Warwick Economy, The Caveman Kitchen, and many more. That’s a pretty impressive track record, but what are they all about?
Malaria - One of the world's biggest killers
More than one million people fall ill to malaria every single year and of those, more than half a million will die. 70% of those deaths will be children under the age of five, and malaria is one of the biggest killers of pregnant women. To put that into perspective, that's 7 jumbo jets full of children disappear because of malaria every day. What makes it worse is that it is entirely preventable – and that is just what the AMF is trying to do.
Prevention is better than cure
Research shows that the best way to prevent the spread of malaria is by using mosquito nets, or more specifically, long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) – nets which are laced with insecticide. These nets will stop the malaria-carrying mosquito from getting their meal. That will halt their reproduction and this break in transmission will ultimately lead to a drop in malaria rates. It’s such a simple solution, yet it’s one that AMF are still fighting—and fundraising—for. In fact, their whole objective is to purchase nets and distribute them throughout 36 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, with a particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa where 90% of all malaria deaths occur.
Transparency and effectiveness
After the nets have been successfully distributed with the help of distribution partners, AMF continue to work, tracking the use of the nets in the long-term to ensure that they are used correctly by those they were intended for, and producing reports on net-use and malaria rates. According to AMF, the nets cost only $2.50 each and can last around four to five years. When you donate to AMF, you can track your money from the initial donation, through the purchasing of the nets, and right through to the distribution and reporting process, meaning that you can see exactly where your money is being spent and what good your donation has actually achieved. What’s even more impressive is that due to a well-managed business model amongst other things, 100% of the money donated by the public is used to buy and distribute nets. All other running costs are covered by a small group of private donors and a whole host of pro-bono work.
The World’s Most Effective Charity
There is no doubt that AMF’s work is good, but does that really make them the world’s most effective charity? Giving What We Can say yes – they give AMF a rating of 5/5 for cost-effectiveness and 4/5 for robustness of evidence. They say that the cause is important and AMF in particular have a good track record, especially when compared to other similar net-giving charities. They have “a strong track record of preventing malaria infections,” they say. “It is also highly cost-effective, as its lean organisational structure, careful use of technology, and partnerships with local charities keep its costs exceptionally low”.
What’s more, they focus on the very thing that has proven to be effective in the fight against malaria – the nets, and they focus their entire energy on this one solution. They have strong processes to ensure that the nets are not misappropriated during distribution, meaning that the nets get to where they are supposed to, and they follow up on usage to ensure that their hard work and the donations of the public have not gone to waste. Since their founding in 2004, AMF has raised an impressive $82million—that’s enough for 30million nets—and they have proven results, as malaria mortality rates have dropped by 47% globally and 54% in Africa. The benefits don’t stop there either. The work of AMF is economically beneficial too, as it is estimated that for every $1 spent on fighting malaria, Africa’s GDP raises by $6.75. So then charity’s effective cost-control, monitoring systems, distribution, and malaria-preventing solutions are beneficial not just for individuals but for entire countries.
The Next Step
So what’s next for AMF? Well at the most basic level, more donations will help the charity buy and distribute more nets, meaning that they can save more lives. Research is also required as evidence is beginning to suggest that mosquitoes have become immune to the insecticide on the nets, reducing their effectiveness dramatically. If that is the case, AMF need to work on creating a new, more robust LLIN. So AMF’s work is far from over, but with an estimated 450 million cases of malaria avoided between 2000 and 2015 as a direct result of these nets, transparent financial accounts, and a cost-effective working method, it’s no wonder that the Against Malaria Foundation is voted as one of the world’s most effective charities again and again.