Charity Selection Process

One for the World works with The Life You Can Save to find highly effective charities to recommend to our members, based on the latest evidence of how to maximize the impact of your charitable donations.

The process of selecting our charity partners has two stages. First, The Life You Can Save's Panel of Experts selects our full portfolio of charities based on three criteria: evidence, efficiency, and execution. There are currently 20 charities in our full portfolio. Second, a team of One for the World members chooses our Top Picks from our full portfolio each spring. In each step, we leverage in-depth research from two trusted charity evaluators, GiveWell and ImpactMatters.

Selection of our full portfolio

This stage is carried out by The Life You Can Save on an ongoing basis - a full overview of this process can be found here.

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

  • Evidence: the size, quality and relevance of the evidence base for a charity.
  • Efficiency: the cost effectiveness of a charity’s programs (how much ‘return on investment’ they achieve).
  • 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, The Life You Can Save uses a ‘Panel of Experts’, currently consisting of Caroline Fiennes, Eric Friedman, Dean Karlan and Peter Singer. 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. 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.

Selection of our Top Picks

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

  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Track record: we have a preference for organizations with a longer track record of success.
  • Cultural fit: we have a preference for organizations that will appeal to our members, who are largely graduates of professional and undergraduate degree programs.
  • 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.

Note: our charity selection process has evolved and improved over time. A detailed overview of our 2016 selection process can be found here, and our full 2016 criteria can be found here.