MLT Blog

Welcoming GiveWell as a new MLT Partner

By: MLT Staff

In February, we welcomed one of our newest partners, GiveWell. We had the opportunity to speak with GiveWell’s Outreach Associate, Catherine Hollander, about the organization and why they value diversity.

Briefly tell us what GiveWell does.

GiveWell is a nonprofit that looks for and recommends charities that have the most impact, in terms of lives saved or improved, per dollar donated. Due to our criteria, we focus on charities that work on interventions in global health and development. Each year, we publish a short list of top-recommended charities along with the full details of our analysis so that donors can use our work.

We’re a small organization with a big impact; GiveWell has under 20 full-time employees focused on our top charities work. In 2015, our top charities received $110 million as a result of GiveWell’s recommendation.

Can you share a little about why you were founded?

GiveWell started in 2007. Our co-founders, Elie Hassenfeld and Holden Karnofsky, were a few years out of college and working in finance. They were planning to make a donation to charity and wanted to know where to give so they could do the most good.

Elie and Holden, along with some coworkers of theirs, started researching different organizations and programs to answer this question. They quickly found that finding evidence-backed, cost-effective, and underfunded charities was a full-time job, and left their jobs to found GiveWell as a full-time project.

What are GiveWell’s core values?

Our core values are found within our employees. Our employees’ passion for helping others, intellectual rigor, curiosity and kindness are an important part of our organization.

What is unique about the GiveWell culture and what would you like our MLTers to know about your organization?

GiveWell is very interested in improving itself as an organization, both internally in how we run and externally in terms of the product we produce. Employee feedback is welcomed, encouraged, and solicited frequently. Managers check in regularly with their reports about their job satisfaction, we’ll hold team meetings about what mistakes we could be making, and we’ll solicit input about any changes to our approach.

Could you say more about the impact that diversity has on an organization – and in particular, why GiveWell values diversity?

GiveWell aims to serve all donorsanyone who wants to give to charity can use our research, which is available publicly on our website. We think our staff can best serve donors when they reflect the diversity of those who may use our research.

What kinds of employees are  most successful at GiveWell?

GiveWell employees tend to share three traits: Kindness, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to do good. Because GiveWell is a fairly small and growing organization, individuals who are interested in thinking through open-ended questions or new approaches to our work can have a large impact. Candidates with a passion for creative problem solving may particularly enjoy this aspect of GiveWell’s work.

In terms of work styles, most of our work at GiveWell tends to be individual projects rather than team-based, although co-workers will pitch in to help or to provide feedback and ideas when solicited.