One for the World Partner Selection Strategy

Executive Summary

One for the World’s (OFTW) new partner selection process has two stages:

  1. The Life You Can Save (TLYCS) selects OFTW’s full portfolio using its existing selection methodology. This focuses on evidence, efficiency, and execution of charities working to assist people living in extreme poverty.
  2. OFTW chooses a subset of these organizations to be designated as ‘OFTW Top Picks’. OFTW selects ‘Top Picks’ using five criteria: direct impact, simplicity of programs, track record, cultural fit, existing recommendations.

The second stage comprises three weeks of research by a team of 5-10 volunteers from OFTW chapters to determine which organizations in the full portfolio best meet the criteria of ‘Top Picks’.


Background and objectives

In previous years, a team of 5-10 volunteers participated in a 4-6 week research process to select OFTW’s charity partners using OFTW’s selection criteria. OFTW’s full 2016 criteria can be found here.

This year (2017) we are revising our partner selection criteria and process in order to:

  1. Achieve scale over the next few years, and expand to new schools. Our previous charity selection process was a Wharton-centric process and is not scaleable.
  2. Leverage our new partnership with TLYCS, which has its own charity selection process that has significant overlap with OFTW’s.
  3. Focus on our comparative advantage, which is movement building and donor engagement - not charity selection.

TLYCS currently recommends 18 charities, and our donors are able to give to any of these organizations. We currently designate a subset of this list as ‘OFTW Top Picks’ and focus our marketing efforts on promoting these organizations. We will maintain this list of ‘OFTW Top Picks’ for two main reasons:

  1. It is easier to market a smaller list of charities.
  2. Some of TLYCS’s recommended charities meet OFTW’s founding criteria and principles better than others.


Proposed Partner Selection Criteria and Process

OFTW’s new partner selection process has two distinct stages: the selection of the full portfolio, and the selection of ‘OFTW Top Picks’. The first stage is conducted by TLYCS on an ongoing basis according to their existing criteria and process. The second stage is conducted by OFTW each spring.  

Stage 1: Selection of full portfolio

This stage is carried out by TLYCS on an ongoing basis, and we provide a short overview of this process below. A full overview of TLYCS’s charity selection methodology can be found here.

Like One for the World, TLYCS’s mission is to improve the lives of people living in extreme poverty, and it selects charities that help achieve that goal. TLYCS uses three broad criteria to select its charities:

  1. Evidence: the size, quality and relevance of the evidence base for a charity.
  2. Efficiency: the cost effectiveness of a charity’s programs (how much ‘return on investment’ they achieve).
  3. Execution: whether the charity has good programs in need of additional funding, and whether the organization is capable of executing these programs.


To identify charities to recommend, TLYCS uses a ‘Panel of Experts’, currently consisting of Caroline Fiennes, Eric Friedman, Dean Karlan and Peter Singer, and leverages research by the best charity evaluation organizations. The Panel uses the following steps to make its recommendations:

  1. Designates ‘Approved Charity Evaluators’, currently GiveWell and ImpactMatters.
  2. Defines a ‘threshold of recommendation’ for each Approved Charity Evaluator.
  3. Considers any charity that reaches the threshold of recommendation as being eligible for recommendation. Before it is added to the full portfolio, the Panel is given an opportunity to raise and investigate any concerns regarding the charity. If the process produces multiple recommendations doing very similar work, the Panel may choose to recommend a subset of charities to minimize redundancies. At least two-thirds of the Panel must vote in favor of adding a charity before it is recommended.
  4. Similarly, the Panel may raise and investigate concerns regarding existing charities at any time.


Stage 2: Selection of ‘OFTW Top Picks’

In keeping with our founding criteria and principles, we use five criteria to select our Top Picks:

  1. Direct impact: we have a preference for organizations that are working to reduce preventable deaths and assist people living in extreme poverty directly (as opposed to indirectly helping these people, for example through research or policy advocacy).
  2. Simplicity of programs: we have a preference for organizations with simpler programming so that it is easy to explain to our members how their donations are being spent and having an impact.
  3. Track record: we have a preference for organizations with a longer track record of success.
  4. Cultural fit: we have a preference for organizations that will appeal to our members, who are largely graduates of professional degree programs. For example, in 2015 we presented a shortlist of three charities to our members, and there was a strong preference for us to add Living Goods because of their sustainable model and use of profit-driven community health workers.
  5. Existing recommendations: we have a preference for organizations that we have recommended in the past, to maintain consistency in our promotion of our ‘Top Picks’.


We conduct a two week process each spring to select OFTW Top Picks. A team of 5-10 volunteers research TLYCS’s recommended charities, and make a recommendation to the advisory board regarding the OFTW Top Picks. The advisory board retains decision making authority on the final Top Picks.