The best places to donate for COVID-19

post by Sanjay · 2020-03-20T10:47:26.308Z · EA · GW · 20 comments

Contents

  TL;DR
  0. Exec Summary
  1. Is COVID-19 a good area to fund?
  2. Category 1: Co-benefits (Benefits for future pandemics and other co-benefits)
  3. Category 2: Neglected work on coronavirus
  4. Category 3: Not funding-constrained
  5. Category 4: Tackling a problem that risks crowding out other players
  6. Category 5: No plan: Organisations seeking funding but providing no plan of action for funds
  Appendix: not shovel-ready philanthropy ideas
  Appendix: Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (CHS)
  Appendix: Univursa Health
  Appendix: Development Media International (DMI)
  Appendix: Biosecurity initiative at Centre for International Security and Cooperation
  Appendix: Future of Humanity Institute (FHI)
  Appendix: CSER (Centre for Study of Existential Risk)
  Appendix: Work on Wet markets
  Appendix: Long list of COVID-19 related donation opportunities
None
20 comments

<NOTE: this piece is cross-posted to the SoGive blog>

TL;DR

We (SoGive) are receiving some queries about where to donate for donors wanting to respond to COVID-19. Here we give our answers, using our approach influenced by Effective Altruism.

Here’s the short answer: If mentioning just one organisation, our answer is:

If it’s suitable to provide a range of organisations (including those which are more indirectly relevant to COVID-19), our answers are:

Note that this work has been performed as quickly as possible and our thinking may evolve.

0. Exec Summary

This report briefly considers reasons why COVID-19 may not be the best area to fund. Nonetheless, we are conscious that there are donors interested in this area, so we have generated our list using the following method.

“We” refers to SoGive, an organisation supporting donors to achieve high-impact giving.

Method: We generated a list of potential donation targets by performing a google search and reaching out to some of our contacts. This generated around 20 projects. We excluded promising COVID-19-relevant ideas which didn’t already have a shovel-ready organisation accepting funds for it, although there is an appendix which explores this area.

We then put the organisations into analytically relevant categories:

In our methodology, the first two categories were viewed more positively than the following three.

These organisations are listed in the table below.

At the moment, where we have sufficient analysis on the organisation (with positive conclusions!), and where it falls into a category which we assess positively, we treat it as one of our recommendations. The analysis may be analysis conducted by other organisations (e.g. Founders Pledge) which we have then reviewed).

Our recommendations are tentative, because we have aimed to produce this quickly, rather than perfectly. As more information arises, our opinions may change.



Note that “not recommended” does not necessarily mean that a donation to that area is bad, but rather that we believe that other possibilities likely outperform.

Johns Hopkins CHS is chosen as the single organisation to recommend (if only one is chosen) because of (a) the strong co-benefits and (b) the direct relevance to COVID-19.

1. Is COVID-19 a good area to fund?

The first question to ask is whether coronavirus is the right area to support if you want to donate. To assess this cause area using the standard three factor framework of Impact-Tractability-Neglectedness, a cursory assessment suggests the following for funding of coronavirus-related work as a whole:

Most areas of COVID-19 work are crowded enough that one may question whether it’s the best area to donate to.

Our experience of the charity sector at the time of the Global Financial Crisis of c2009 suggests that we expect the following to happen:

We tentatively believe that COVID-19 will be a popular (or at least somewhat popular) donation target. Below is our assessment of how COVID-19 performs on our checklist of “propensity to be popular with funders”



As can be seen from this table, we predict donor interest in COVID-19, but not to the same extent as some other popular causes, such as the tsunami appeal of c2005 or guide dogs or lifeboats or homelessness, many of which would score similarly highly or more so on this chart.

However we nonetheless expect that COVID-19 will nonetheless attract substantial donor interest. And given that funding sources for other charitable activities will likely contract, it is likely that the smart money should go to something other than COVID-19.

In order to firm up our opinion on this, we would need to see a deeper analysis of the more effective donation opportunities highlighted here. This would include

  1. Considerations around how much more funding (if any) they would receive as a result of elevated interest in COVID-19, and what this means for the marginal use of the next dollar donated (especially relevant for organisations which have already been assessed and recommended prior to the COVID-19 outbreak)
  2. Further models of cost effectiveness to facilitate comparisons with other donation opportunities, to the extent that this is possible (especially relevant for new projects)

This document is geared towards those funders who wish to support COVID-19 despite these considerations.

2. Category 1: Co-benefits (Benefits for future pandemics and other co-benefits)

<<< SoGive opinion on this category: positive>>>

Organisations in this category:

Organisations which generally tackle pandemics are a good choice. Lots of work relating to general pandemics is also relevant to COVID-19 because of the possibility of a resurgence or second wave of the pandemic.

The organisations listed here have the property that they may appeal to donors interested in COVID-19, and potentially have other benefits too. For example the organisations may also do other high-impact work relating to existential risk, and donations to these organisations may funge with those high-impact areas of work, as well as potentially funding good work on pandemics.

The existence of co-benefits (e.g. relevance to future pandemics or other sources of existential risk) is important to our assessment of the work as positive for a donor, given that most work which is specific to COVID-19 is likely to already be highly crowded (rare exceptions noted in the section on neglected work).

Tackling wet markets has a clear link with COVID-19, since this is thought to be where the COVID-19 epidemic came from. The key outstanding questions are the extent to which this remains an issue given the recent Chinese ban on wet markets.

3. Category 2: Neglected work on coronavirus

<<< SoGive opinion on this category: positive>>>

We struggle to find any work on coronavirus which is neglected. The only category we know of is:

Organisations in this category:

In our conversations with Development Media International (DMI) we understand that some COVID-19 related work is neglected, especially around things which are country-specific (e.g. vaccine development should work on all people; developing a radio spot that works in Burkina Faso is specific to Burkina Faso). At time of writing we have not been able to fully explore/verify this claim in general, and would welcome further feedback about the extent to which this applies.

We have included Univursa Health in the “neglected” category, but it could equally be included in the “co-benefits” category, since the mechanism could be used for detecting many other things.

4. Category 3: Not funding-constrained

<<<SoGive opinion: ultimate impact unclear, not recommended>>>

Examples of the sorts of work that is not funding-constrained

Organisations in this category

For these items, there is a constraint that is likely to bite before our collective ability to fund. For example we will likely run out of ability to manufacture personal protective equipment such as masks before we run out of money to pay for them; we will hit the point of diminishing marginal returns on health education messaging in the developed world before developed world governments run out of funding for that messaging; we will run out of skilled people able to do high quality research on vaccines and treatments for coronavirus (or to provide peer review on it) before we hit a constraint on money to fund that work. This observation relates funding from all sources, not funding just from an individual donor, or even the sum of philanthropic funding.

So if you fund this sort of work, your money may well be notionally earmarked to that work, however this is likely to be illusory restrictedness (otherwise known as funging). The true impact of your donation is that the bodies who would in any case have funded that work now have more money to fund whatever they would have funded at the margin.

This may be no bad outcome at a time when governments and funding bodies everywhere are short of funds, however it’s hard for us to provide an assessment on the value of this, especially when some of those things (e.g. vaccine development) are currently being funded multilaterally by lots of different funders, so a full assessment of this question would need to consider who those funders are, and how impactful their use of funds would be at the margin.

Once the relevant stakeholders and their funding flows are clearly mapped, it may turn out that this funding is equivalent to paying extra tax to the government. Or it may be that extra funding is stored up which can then be used on funding pandemic vaccine research over the coming years. Given that this form of research has been prone to cycles of being underfunded and then overfunded, storing up funds which will only be disbursed over several years may still be a positive outcome, especially for an area like bio risk, which is a fairly high-impact cause area.

5. Category 4: Tackling a problem that risks crowding out other players

<<<SoGive opinion: not recommended>>>

Examples of types of work:

Organisations in this category:

Donating/philanthropy is a good idea for things that are neglected. If another body has incentives to provide certain goods or services, then it’s better if they do it. Bodies such as governments or for-profit companies are examples of other such bodies.

As an example, donating to a foundation which will help out freelance workers risks being unhelpful because the government may choose to provide a bailout package anyway, in which case your donation turned out to have minimal value.

We have tentatively included food banks in the UK in this category. This is based on the expectation that the UK government would have little incentive to allow people to starve because of the pandemic, and that it would be difficult to expect a volunteer-run food bank system to function effectively when members of the public are largely staying at home.

While we consider it likely that the UK government will take some action in this area, we are unclear on when this will happen, and how many people will suffer financial ruin before then.

6. Category 5: No plan: Organisations seeking funding but providing no plan of action for funds

<<<SoGive opinion: not recommended>>>

Example donation opportunities in this category:

We are aware of some organisations who are currently conscious that people want to donate to support the COVID-19 crisis. In light of this they are providing donors the opportunity to donate to a fund to tackle this issue, but without specifying how the money will be used.

Those of a suspicious disposition may fear misappropriation. While this is possible, we think it more likely that the organisations in question simply want to give themselves more time to consider how best to respond to the crisis.

Nonetheless, we do not feel in a position to recommend a donation opportunity without any information about how the money will be used

Appendix: not shovel-ready philanthropy ideas

This review has focused on shovel-ready projects which can receive funds now.

In this appendix we list some other potential ideas for things to fund. These things might not currently exist, but could be brought about by one large funder or a group of medium-sized funders.

These ideas have not been carefully assessed at time of writing

Appendix: Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (CHS)

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (CHS) is a think tank at Johns Hopkins University which carries out research on biosecurity, and advocates for improved policy in the US and internationally.

Our recommendation of CHS is based largely on the recommendation by Founders Pledge, set out in their report on existential risk. Their recommendation of CHS reflects past successes such as its development of guidance for the US on a response to anthrax, smallpox, plague, and Ebola before the US government had any guidance or efforts on these issues.

The CHS is very active on COVID-19. For example, they are maintaining a coronavirus resource centre: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

Appendix: Univursa Health

Univursa Health is a new startup developing a diagnostics tool.

The concept was developed by Freya Jephcott, a highly experienced field epidemiologist and medical anthropologist with field experience through her work with MSF and WHO and Emma Glennon, a leading infectious diseases modeller.

Univursa began when Freya, having just returned from an outbreak response in Ethiopia, gave a presentation on the challenges involved in identifying the causative agent of outbreaks, especially in resource-limited settings. Emma immediately recognised that she could build mathematical models of the processes being described and through them rapidly identify the causative agents of outbreaks.

They have since then started work on a diagnostic tool.

The tool can either:

The tool has originally been developed for use on haemorrhagic conditions such as ebola. It takes in a set of symptoms called a “line list”.

The tool then uses an algorithm to turn this list of symptoms into a diagnosis. In our conversation with Univursa, we did not spend too much time on the algorithm, however our understanding of the algorithm is summarised below

The tool has been tested in a theoretical context. They have tested the tool on some past examples of “cryptic cases” where diagnosis has been difficult and the tool has typically been able to get it right within about 5 or so cases.

We are somewhat sceptical of these apparently positive findings. We worry that

Having said that, the tool is intended to be used in a resource-constrained setting, e.g. in a developing world context where the most common approach may be to bring in foreign experts via organisations like MSF or the WHO. Experts who will now be in very short supply. This means it has to beat a very low bar in order to outperform.

And even if we don’t believe that it’s likely to outperform even this very low bar, the benefits are high enough that the opportunity seems worth exploring.

To assess this, we would like to quantify this in a model which considers the scale of the benefit, as measured in, e.g., lives saved that could be brought about as a result of this work, compared with the cost of implementing the work. This model has not been produced at time of writing.

The main tasks for Univursa to work on next are:

We understand from Univursa that other similar tools are either data collection tools to help with diagnosis, or analysis tools that could be used by someone with a relatively sophisticated grad school background, and likely not accessible for a typical district commissioner in sub-Saharan Africa.

We have explored with Univursa whether they have sought other sources of funding. Thus far, Univursa have been in touch with some for-profit investors, but are averse to this because of the risk of mission drift. We understand that they applied to Wellcome and did not receive funding, with no feedback provided.

Overall, we consider this a risky, but potentially high-impact piece of work, with potentially applicability not just to the COVID-19 outbreak to many other contexts, and operating in a context which is relatively neglected.

Appendix: Development Media International (DMI)

DMI is a GiveWell standout charity, and has been independently assessed by Impact Matters, and received a positive review from them.

We understand from our call with DMI on Wed 18th March 2020 that:

Assuming this is all correct, this would constitute a rare example of work which is:

  1. Relatively well-evidenced
  2. Neglected
  3. Directly relevant to COVID-19

In terms of the evidence, we have the following:


We asked DMI whether they knew of existing models to link a certain increase in handwashing (say) with an impact on r or the reproduction number. They did not know of any such models, and we are also unaware of any. This makes it harder for us to build a cost-effectiveness model. At time of writing we do not have a cost-effectiveness model of DMI’s COVID-19-related work.

A counterargument against work in the development world is around whether flattening the curve is realistic in that context. Flattening the curve refers to controlling the spread of the pandemic so that it becomes manageable for the health system.

There have been question marks over whether it’s realistic to control the spread of the pandemic enough to stay within the capacity of the health systems in the developed world. It seems even more likely therefore that the health systems in the developing world will be overwhelmed, and therefore that any effort employed here will have no effect.

This concern seems all the more reasonable given that DMI’s past record on handwashing suggests that they can bring about an improvement, but it’s unclear whether they can bring about a drastic improvement (note that the context of a widespread, high-profile pandemic may invalidate our attempts to extrapolate from their past experience).

In discussion with DMI it became clear that the benefits go beyond lives saved from handwashing or (if applicable) social isolation. It includes, for example, tackling the risks of misinformation. For example in an environment with pre-existing ethnic tensions, rumours may spread suggesting that the virus was brought about by (e.g.) another racial group, which may exacerbate conflict risk, at a time when the world can least cope with large refugee camps or strains on health systems.

Our confidence in our tentative recommendation of DMI would be higher if we had the data and capacity to put together a model which reflects these factors.

Appendix: Biosecurity initiative at Centre for International Security and Cooperation

The Biosecurity Initiative at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) is a research centre at Stanford that carries out policy research and industry outreach to reduce the risk of natural and engineered pandemics

Our recommendation of the Biosecurity Initiative of CISAC is based largely on the recommendation by Founders Pledge, set out in their report on existential risk. Their recommendation reflects the fact that their in-house biosecurity experts David Relman and Megan Palmer are both thought leaders in their field.

Our currently cursory review of their work suggests that their work is not very focused on COVID-19.

Appendix: Future of Humanity Institute (FHI)

FHI is a multidisciplinary research institute at Oxford University studying big picture questions for human civilization.

FHI has been funded in the past by the Open Philanthropy Project. We are familiar with work performed by a number of the thought leaders at FHI. We understand that FHI’s work mostly has little direct relevance to COVID-19, but some of it is relevant to pandemics.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak we reviewed FHI and deprioritised it because it was our impression that funding was not a particular constraint for FHI. Therefore, based on our current impressions, we are keeping FHI in the “not funding-constrained” category. Otherwise, it would likely fit well in the “co-benefits” category, because it does plenty of other work relevant to pandemics, bio risk, and funding directed to FHI may well funge with/enable other high-impact work.

Appendix: CSER (Centre for Study of Existential Risk)

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) is a research centre at the University of Cambridge, intended to study possible extinction-level threats

Our opinion that CSER is a high-impact donation target is supported by our view that (a) tackling existential risk a high-impact cause area (b) having this resource available in Cambridge is a solidly valuable thing. We understand that CSER’s work mostly has little direct relevance to COVID-19, but some of it is relevant to pandemics and that they are looking to expand this element of their team.

We believe that this may be a suitable choice for funders inspired to support pandemics as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Appendix: Work on Wet markets

Tackling wet markets has a clear link with COVID-19, since this is thought to be where the COVID-19 epidemic came from. Furthermore, multiple epidemics (avian flu and SARS as well as COVID-19) are thought to have originated in wet markets, because keeping live animals there increases the risk of zoonotic transmission. Tackling this issue has a number of co-benefits, notably for animals, who, we understand, suffer considerably as a result of these markets. Putting this area of work into a category which we are positive may suggest that we are positive about funding this area of work. However further work would be needed before we can conclude this.

A rough model for the impact of work on wet markets considers:

  1. The amount currently spent by governments and NGOs on this currently
  2. The scale of the impact of wet markets in terms of epidemic risk
  3. The scale of the impact of wet markets in terms of animal welfare
  4. We would need a fuller review to know how much is currently spent on this topic, however roughly extrapolating from what we know of the landscape, our rough guess is that the amount spent globally is fairly low, maybe c.$10million (rough order of magnitude)
  5. We know of three epidemics thought to originate from wet markets in the last 20 years. A more careful model would require more time than we have for this quick review, so let’s assume that the epidemic risk is captured by assuming that a pandemic of the scale of COVID-19 will occur once every hundred years as a result of wet markets. The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is thought to be at least $1 trillion (source: UN). This suggests that it would be worthwhile to invest $10 billion of effort (i.e. c1000x more than the amount currently expended) to move from the historic level of risk to zero risk. (Note that, as set out below, we are probably no longer at the historic level of risk anyway)
  6. To give some idea of the scale of suffering, we understand that there are 20,000 wildlife farms in China and also that there were 20,000 wet markets that China closed in February 2020. It is unclear how many animals would be on a farm or would come through a wet market per year, however if we assume that a moderately high estimate is 10,000 animals per farm, then this is c 200 million animals per farm. This is relatively small compared to the scale of industrial factory farming (e.g. c 60 billion factory farmed chickens). However, assuming that non-human animals are given sufficiently high moral weight, this scale is still sufficient to add a material amount of extra benefit to the work on wet markets.

While the above initial assessment sounds promising, we would need to further consider the following factors

  1. whether most of the work that needs to be done has already been done, given that China has recently banned wet markets and 80% of people in Beijing are opposed to wildlife meat markets
  2. it is reported that wet markets still persist, but to what extent is this the case?
  3. might control measures may drive wet markets underground in a way that might not be net beneficial
  4. might the ban spawn the creation of new wet markets in nearby countries
  5. is this area of work likely to be crowded as a result of COVID-19
  6. a full model of the impact of work on wet markets should consider what impact (if any) there will be on Chinese people’s nutrition as a result of the ban, as well as the animal welfare impact and the risk of epidemics.

We know of several organisations which we understand to be working on this:

Appendix: Long list of COVID-19 related donation opportunities

A list of options

20 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Buck · 2020-03-28T02:11:06.977Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

You say that the impact/scale of COVID is "huge". I think this might mislead people who are used to thinking about the problems EAs think about. Here's why.

I think COVID is probably going to cause on the order of 100 million DALYs this year, based on predictions like this; I think that 50-95% the damage ever done by COVID will be done this year. On the scale that 80000 Hours uses to assess the scale of problems, this would be ranked as importance level 11 or so.

I think this is lower than most things EAs consider working on or funding. For example:

This is a logarithmic scale, so for example, according to this scale, health in poor countries is 100 times more important than COVID.

So given that COVID seems likely to be between 100x and 10000x less important than the main other cause areas EAs think about, I think it's misleading to describe its scale as "huge".

comment by orthonormal · 2020-03-28T08:06:51.344Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

You have to carefully consider what scale means when switching between one-time interventions and ongoing projects. Cost-effectiveness means the same thing in both, though. If there are opportunities to save a marginal DALY by spending under $1000, then that will be competitive with a public health initiative.

It's not obvious to me that there are such opportunities, unfortunately. (Better suppression in the earliest days of COVID-19 would have been massively cost-effective, but it's far beyond that point now.)

If someone has a good way to save a marginal DALY from COVID-19 for $1000 or less, though, I'd be very excited.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2020-03-20T02:23:15.004Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

It might also be worth funding prediction platforms more, like Metaculus or Foretold.

comment by Sanjay · 2020-03-20T08:27:11.262Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I actually never looked at them until the COVID-19 situation, when I started to refer to them. So that does seem to support your suggestion

comment by Sean_o_h · 2020-03-21T12:25:47.808Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

[disclaimer: I am co-director of CSER, but giving an individual view]. Hi, a quick comment (apologies that I may not have time to respond to replies, very busy period).

>“We understand that CSER’s work mostly has little direct relevance to COVID-19, but some of it is relevant to pandemics and that they are looking to expand this element of their team. We believe that this may be a suitable choice for funders inspired to support pandemics as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.”

This is accurate in my view. However, I would emphasise that for EA funders keen to support (a) *direct* response to Covid-19 and/or (b) most time-effective use of funds relating to the current situation within the next 6 months, my view is that there are likely to be more timely interventions than supporting CSER at this immediate time.

E.g. we ourselves are working to support other initiatives by collaborators relating to the immediate situation (I have been looking for ways to support Univursa*, whose researchers we’ve worked with before, and which I individually consider particularly promising in the current situation). As the writeup says, our work is more focused on broader GCR and pandemic/biorisk goverance and preparedness. We are in the process of making a number of hires (50% of whom are biorisk/epidemiology/biosecurity specialists). I expect we will have a lesser need for additional funding in the 0-6 month window. In the >6 month window, as the world (hopefully) moves from immediate crisis response to better preparedness/governance/biosecurity, and as our expanded bio team develops expands its work relevant to this, we are likely to have significantly more RFMF (although I could not give a view at this time on comparative value of funds with other orgs in future). I should also mention that some of our work is likely to be under the banner of other initiatives our researchers are a part of (e.g. the Biorisc initiative, which has gained good traction in the UK policy context https://www.caths.cam.ac.uk/research/biorisc)

Very grateful to Sanjay, and to everyone else working hard to identify opportunities to combat Covid-19!

*Footnote on my being excited about Univursa: While the approach was initially developed with a focus on haemorrhagic epidemics (e.g. ebola), based on my analysis of the method, and discussion with the researchers, I believe it will be very suitable for adaptation to covid-19 diagnostics (although no guarantees can be made until database development and field testing completed); and could play a v important role in resource-limited settings like sub-saharan Africa where testing and outbreak detection ability is extremely limited. Further, above and beyond regional benefits, it is my understanding that unless appropriate tools are provided to these regions, getting this pandemic under control globally will be a lot more challenging.

comment by Sanjay · 2020-03-21T12:59:09.770Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks Sean_o_h. In case it's not coming across clearly in the write-up, some donation opportunities considered are directly relevant to COVID-19, and some are less directly relevant (e.g. they cover pandemics generally, which may be an appealing donation idea for those inspired to donate because of COVID-19).

An indication of whether the project is directly or indirectly relevant is given in the table in section '0. Exec Summary' (see the table with the purple header)

comment by MichaelA · 2020-03-23T17:04:33.248Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for researching and writing this, and for doing so so quickly. I don't feel I'm in much of a position to comment on this post's accuracy or reasoning, but I can at least say it seems useful. Partly informed by this, I currently plan to donate a small amount to, and fundraise for, the Center for Health Security (as outlined here [EA · GW]).

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2020-03-20T02:18:10.392Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Also, if you're looking at FHI and CSER, it might also be worth looking at CSET (see their COVID-19 work).

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2020-03-20T02:15:51.456Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

What do you think of GiveDirectly's COVID-19 response?

comment by AviNorowitz (AviN) · 2020-03-20T14:10:45.211Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think the main potential benefits of GiveDirectly's COVID-19 response are (a) good PR for cash transfers, (b) an experiment to learn from, (c) bringing in more donors, and (d) persuading people to stay home rather than work. In terms of benefits for recipients though, it seems much less cost-effective than cash transfers to the extreme poor.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2020-03-20T14:42:14.178Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I would agree with all of that. I wonder if it still may be more effective than other donations within the domain of COVID-19 response, however?

comment by Sanjay · 2020-03-20T08:36:33.625Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This appears to belong to Category 4: crowding out the work of government.

GiveDirectly counters that the government response will likely not be enough. That may well be correct, but it will probably be enough to ensure that it doesn't damage Trump's re-election chances.

If ever there's a time when focusing on the neglected needs of the developing world applied, it's now. I don't know to what extent African governments will be advocating social distancing, but it will be very hard to implement for people who don't have savings, and the risk that the current instability could spark inter-state conflict is much higher in the developing world than in the US.

Giving cash to people in the US would not be recommended.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2020-03-20T14:46:08.624Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I must admit I am confused. I don't know why you are making recommendations for COVID-19 donations if you'd also prioritize the neglected needs of the developing world? I am skeptical that anything in Categories 1 and 2 are cost-competitive with existing EA work - and at the minimum this cost-effectiveness is still far from being established.

And in any case, you still could use GiveDirectly to help with cash transfers to the African population dealing with COVID-19.

What kind of criteria were you using to generate these recommendations?

~

GiveDirectly counters that the government response will likely not be enough. That may well be correct, but it will probably be enough to ensure that it doesn't damage Trump's re-election chances.

I'm also confused here.

1.) If the response is likely not enough, wouldn't it be worthwhile to help?

2.) I also very much doubt there won't be an affect on Trump's re-election chances, but I don't think it is relevant.

comment by Sanjay · 2020-03-20T15:58:54.667Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

"I must admit I am confused. I don't know why you are making recommendations for COVID-19 donations if you'd also prioritize the neglected needs of the developing world? "

This is to answer the question of where to donate if the donors *specifically* wants to donate to something COVID-19-relevant.

"I am skeptical that anything in Categories 1 and 2 are cost-competitive with existing EA work - and at the minimum this cost-effectiveness is still far from being established. "

Lots of the organisations in categories 1 and 2 would be considered to actually *be* existing EA work. The first-mentioned organisation (Johns Hopkins CHS) is recommended by Founders Pledge.

" What kind of criteria were you using to generate these recommendations? "

The criteria are: where the organisation falls into a category which is more positively viewed *and* which already has some analysis to support it.

"1.) If the response is likely not enough, wouldn't it be worthwhile to help? "

Yes, it would be worthwhile to help. The question isn't whether it would achieve something and not nothing. The contention is that the higher rated donation opportunities would outperform.

"2.) I also very much doubt there won't be an affect on Trump's re-election chances, but I don't think it is relevant. "

The reason why I consider it relevant is that it gives the Trump administration a stronger incentive to help those affected by the COVID-19 crisis. This means that the cause of helping those in the US is unlikely to be neglected, and substantially less neglected than supporting those in sub-Saharan Africa

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2020-03-21T00:35:42.761Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

The contention is that the higher rated donation opportunities would outperform.

On what basis do you make that contention?

comment by warrenjordan · 2020-03-23T23:00:35.444Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

GiveDirectly has provided more information about their response. It looks like they'll expand beyond the US. If it does, how would that change your categorization? It'd probably depend on the country (e.g. sub-saharan Africa vs. Italy vs. China).

We also plan to respond internationally, and are finalizing those details. Will share shortly.
comment by Jemma · 2020-03-21T08:53:38.064Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I wonder whether Development Media International would be a particularly good choice at this time, not only for preventing COVID-19, but also because it is a charity that is likely to be more able to continue its regular operations during a pandemic (versus, say, charities that distribute bednets or medicine).

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2020-03-28T02:20:30.482Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Also worth noting, per AMF's latest 25 March Update, AMF is declaring they have a more urgent and higher impact need for donations than previously stated.

GiveWell is also investigating.

comment by catherio · 2020-05-06T22:39:28.105Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the post! A donation group I'm in just published a similar analysis of our own giving: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/opdMXibKjkoL69s96/prioritizing-covid-19-interventions-and-individual-donations [EA · GW]

We think Johns Hopkins CHS looks less good right now than this post suggests, and DMI is one of our recommendations.

comment by alexrjl · 2020-04-24T21:51:24.384Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

DMI has received a $200k grant from GiveWell. It looks like this means their funding needs in terms of the immediate response have been met, which is good news.