EECE aims to evaluate charities that are doing highly impactful and effective work. Our understanding of what makes a charity impactful and effective is based upon the following criteria.
1. How important is the cause area that the charity is addressing?
The issue the charity addresses must be one that affects many individuals, whether human or otherwise. The importance of a charity will typically be determined by considering how many individuals the charity’s interventions target and what these interventions do for the targeted individuals, whether that be reducing their suffering or improving their welfare. The direct number of individuals a charity impacts is necessary when considering the quality of a charity, but it cannot be the sole factor when determining importance. Other effects of the intervention such as the extent of the quality of life improved or whether it produces information beneficial to other organizations can also influence the importance of a charity. For this reason, while the number of individuals potentially affected provides a good rough metric for determining the importance of a charity, other factors are considered as well.
2. How neglected is the cause area that the charity is addressing?
Causes or interventions that have received little or no attention from other organizations are considered to be neglected. If a cause area has been neglected there are oftentimes issues that require relatively little effort to make a great difference. By addressing causes that few other organizations work on, new charities have the opportunity to make a great difference in previously ignored, yet important cause areas. When it comes to the same cause area, if a new charity is using the same approach as a more established charity, then in many cases it is better to support the existing charity since it likely already has the infrastructure built to address the issue. For this reason, it is important to support those charities that are working on previously unaddressed issues rather than directing funds to a new charity that will need to build the capital to accomplish the same amount of work an already established charity can carry out. It is in the space of neglected causes that new charities have the greatest potential to do good.
3. How tractable are the charity’s programs and interventions?
Interventions are considered tractable if they provide relatively easy or cost-effective ways to address the cause area being targeted. Oftentimes, the causes that are most neglected also have relatively tractable ways of addressing the issue since little to no work has been previously committed to doing so. By addressing this “low-hanging fruit” these tractable interventions will often allow donors to have an outsized impact as it may take relatively little money to successfully implement these interventions. Thus, tractable interventions are often cost-effective as well.
4. Is there significant room for more funding?
If donations are to be effective, the charity must be able to make good use of additional funds. Due to their small size and limited donor base, it is typically a lack of funds that hinders the ability of early-stage charities to develop and fully carry out their mission. However, this is not always the case. Some charities define their goals around expected funding and may be unable to accommodate further funding in an effective way. For this reason, it is not always the case that new charities will be able to make good use out of additional funds. It is therefore important to ensure that any additional funding will be used to support the necessary operations of the organization or to carry out effective programs. This criteria also considers how much more a charity would be able to accomplish given certain increases in funding.
5. How effective is the charity and its programs at addressing the cause area?
While there is necessarily less information available regarding the success of an early-stage charity, it is important to consider the track record that does exist. Looking to the interventions already pursued by a charity allows for an understanding of how that charity may carry out programs in the future. Observing an organization’s successes and failures as well as how it has responded to these outcomes helps determine whether it will be successful into the future.
6. Is the team effective at carrying out the charity’s mission?
The charity’s team should demonstrate an ability to successfully run their organization. This means that, among other things, the organization should have competent staff who are knowledgeable and experienced with the issue that they are addressing. The charity should have clear goals and a realizable plan for achieving those goals. The leadership should display the ability to guide and assist staff in efficiently and effectively achieving the charity’s mission, and the workplace environment of the organization should be positive with proper mechanisms in place for correcting any issues members may encounter.