Your Donation Could Save a Life
Our recommended charities produce outcomes that help save lives. These charities are the most cost-effective programs we’ve found at saving lives.
Because the initial outputs of these charities are so inexpensive (for example, it costs about $5 to purchase and deliver an insecticide-treated net), many people are surprised at how expensive it is to save a life—about $4,500 on average for funding we directed in 2020.1
We hope that this 2020 example helps illustrate the discrepancy in cost between the initial outputs and the cost to save a life. This example does not reflect what we estimate this program's cost to save a life will be in the future. We generally expect the cost to save a life to increase over time.
The cost to save a life for one grant
Below we’ll explain our 2020 estimate for how $4,500 could save a life in Guinea by funding a net distribution through the Against Malaria Foundation. These numbers are based on a $7.2 million grant to AMF we funded in 2020. We estimate this grant will provide 1.6 million nets and save about 1,700 lives. We chose Guinea for this example because the cost-effectiveness of nets distributed there was close to the average cost-effectiveness of nets AMF distributed with grants from GiveWell’s Top Charities Fund (we updated the name of this fund in September 2022, more information here) and grants from Open Philanthropy in 2020.2
What $4,500 accomplished with AMF in Guinea
That $4,500 donation may have also accomplished some additional outcomes that are not explicitly incorporated into the above cost-effectiveness outline. These benefits include:
- Averting non-fatal malaria infections. Non-fatal infections can still cause a significant amount of suffering.
- Some potential economic effects. There’s some evidence that suggests that averting a case of malaria in children will allow those children to earn more money later in life.
We hope that this was helpful to understand, at a very high level, some of the concepts that we incorporate and the judgments we make in our research. If you have any feedback for us, please fill out this form.