About a year and a half ago, I made a donation to the Against Malaria Foundation. This was during jkaufman's generous matching offer.

That was 20 months ago, and my money is still in the "underwriting" phase - funding projects that are still, of yet, just plans and no nets.

Now, the AMF has had a reasonable reason it was taking longer than expected:

"A provisional, large distribution in a province of the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] will not proceed as the distribution agent was unable to agree to the process requested by AMF during the timeframe needed by our co-funding partner."

So they've hit a snag, the earlier project fell through, and they are only now allocating my money to a new project. Don't get me wrong, I am very glad they are telling me where my money is going, and especially glad it didn't just end up in someone's pocket instead. With that said, though, I still must come to this conclusion:

The AMF seems to have more money than they can use, right now.

So, LW, I have the following questions:

  1. Is this a problem? Should one give their funds to another charity for the time being?
  2. Regardless of your answer to the above, are there any recommendations for other transparent, efficient charities? [other than MIRI]
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Also, GiveWell came to the same conclusion (excellent charity, but can't currently utilize marginal funds) last year. Also, ancientcampus (and anyone else who cares about effective charity) should probably wait until they refresh their rankings on December 1; this is the time of year that their current views and wobsite recommendations are furthest apart.

Both excellent things to know, thanks!


To answer the OP's question 2 in more depth, any of the charities recommended there would be excellent candidates: GiveDirectly and the two deworming charities (which you pick will depend on which is tax-deductible in your country). GiveDirectly is certain transparent and efficient, in that it simply gives a large unconditional cash transfer to poor families, with around 90% 'efficiency' in the sense that 90% of your money ends up in their pocket. See this accessible introduction and this detailed analysis.

I would strongly suggest recanting the statement about AMF having "more money than they can use".

Part of the logic of donating to a single maximal-marginal-benefit charity is that your contribution works at the margin. You don't get to donate to a cancer charity and think "well, that wraps cancer up; now onto solving child abuse". In telling you about what "your money" is doing, AMF are being psychologically savvy, but they are also creating the illusion that your contribution is facilitating some sort of discrete satisfying chunk of work you can draw a line under.

Around here we like to think about charities as machines that take in money and spit out utility, but in the real world they're organisations with cash flows, long-term strategies and earmarked funds. The presence of such earmarked funds does not mean they have more money than they can use, and it would be awful if this notion got stuck in people's minds.

I agree that having earmarked funds does not imply AMF has more money than they can use, but (1) I don't think OP was saying that and (2) I do think AMF has more money than it can use.

I appreciate what you're saying. Just going by the information I posted, that wasn't nearly enough information to conclude "AMF has more money than they can use". It merely raised the question - which I had answered here. :)

If there's a demand, I can post the sequence of emails I've received.


Upvoted - and, to clarify, by upvoting I mean that I'd be interested! You can also send them to me via my EA Profile contact form.

For those interested, here's a graph of the AMF's "recurring donation" income over time: http://www.againstmalaria.com/RecurringDonations.aspx?emailID=20130315 Take-away points: 1) It's been in steady decline for about a year 2) they're not nearly as big as I thought - it's currently at $60,000, which isn't even enough to support a decently sized staff.

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