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Celebrating AIM’s Externally Recommended Incubated Charities

AIM’s Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Program has now launched more than 40 charities since it started in 2019. This article addresses one question we are frequently asked: “What are your top charities, and how successful are they?”.

This is a difficult question to answer. There is room for significant reasonable disagreement over which of our charities may be considered “best.” Differences in the age of our charities, the ethical views of those passing judgment, and the ideal methods to use for evaluating organizations all make it infeasible to identify a clear set of “top” charities that have grown out of our program. 

Most of our organizations are very young, with over half launched in the past two years. As such, the vast majority have only internal assessments of their impact. Separately, programs that look promising at a pilot stage can fail to replicate at scale - Evidence Action’s ‘No Sugar’ program provides one example of this.

Given this, a related question is perhaps better to answer: “Which of our charities have been recommended by an external review from an independent evaluation organization?”. External reviews are not without flaws. Methodologies, levels of depth, and evaluation focus can all differ between external reviews. In an ideal world, external reviews would be conducted in line with a consistent approach. In practice, external reviews are conducted by different actors with different priorities. Some external reviews aim to evaluate areas of work, briefly mentioning promising organizations as part of this. Others focus solely on an individual organization, providing a detailed public writeup of the charity’s work and level of success.

Nevertheless, external reviews offer an essential level of greater accountability and rigor. As such, we believe they typically offer the best way to get a sense of which of our charities are on track to become field-leading organizations (the goal we set for our incubated charities). AIM’s long-term goal is to facilitate external evaluation for all of our charities. In the meantime, we have compiled this list summarising the external reviews and donations from major organizations of six more established charities we’ve incubated. 

It is worth noting that about 25% of external reviews we know about are not yet public or will not be made public. We also expect that as many of our charities get older, they will receive an external assessment. The youngest charity reviewed was founded in 2021, so this list is more of a sample than a comprehensive summary. 

While we think these organizations are a good place to start if you want to look at the success of charities incubated through our Charity Entrepreneurship Program, other organizations may present similar or more counterfactually valuable donation opportunities. Our seed network, alongside other funding circles coordinated by AIM, represents a good example of where we think additional funding can be particularly valuable for those interested in donation opportunities.

Family Empowerment Media (FEM) prevents maternal deaths and other negative health outcomes from unintended pregnancies through the production and distribution of radio ads in Nigeria. 

Their 2021 pilot campaign in Kano State reached 5.6 million listeners. Independent surveying found a 75% increase in contraceptive uptake among women who listened to the campaign, corresponding to an estimated 250,000 new contraceptive users.

GiveWell recommended a $500,000 grant to Family Empowerment Media (FEM) in March 2023 for their planned randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluating the effects of their radio campaigns in Nigeria.

While GiveWell has not evaluated FEM in-depth, they believe FEM’s work could be highly cost-effective and that the RCT will provide valuable information.

A 2023 report by Rethink Priorities states that they ‘are confident aht the cost-effectiveness of FEM’s intervention beats that of cash transfers, and we believe that their cost-effectiveness might be higher than GiveWell’s and Founders Pledge’s estimates’.

Founders Pledge estimated that FEM's work in northern Nigeria is about 22 times as effective as unconditional cash transfers when considering the impact on maternal health. This high cost-effectiveness is attributed to FEM's ability to reach a large audience with relatively low costs.

FEM’s Executive Director, Anna Christina Thorsheim, was accepted as a Rainer Arnhold Fellow by the Mulago Foundation, endorsing the potential impact at scale of the organization’s work.

LEEP drives effective policies to eliminate lead poisoning worldwide. Its current focus is on ending the sale and manufacture of lead paint, and it works in 13 countries across the globe. LEEP estimate that their work will prevent lead paint exposure for 46.6 million children.

Rethink Priorities wrote a report on lead exposure work in 2021 that recommended LEEP as an effective organization for donors to support. This report found that lead exposure has a social cost of more than $5 trillion annually. LEEP’s work in Malawi - their first country of operation - triggered a commitment from the Malawi Bureau of Standards to implement regulation to ban lead in paint.

In a 2023 write-up, Open Philanthropy highlighted that the proportion of consumer paint that contains lead fell from 67% to 24% between 2021 and 2023. The work of LEEP, along with other key organizations, prompted Open Philanthropy to include lead exposure as part of its Global Public Health Policy program.

Founders Pledge recommended LEEP as an organization to donate to in a 2023 report. They estimate that it costs $1.66 to prevent one child’s lead exposure through LEEP’s programming, making them one of the most cost-effective charities Founders Pledge recommends.

Suvita works alongside state governments in India to increase the uptake of childhood immunizations to combat vaccine-preventable diseases. They do this through two main interventions: sending text message reminders to caregivers about upcoming vaccination appointments and building a network of community ambassadors to promote immunization in their communities. 

GiveWell recommended a grant of $3.3 million to Suvita in April 2023 to support expansion of their SMS reminders programme to serve all of Maharashtra state and 4 districts of Bihar state. They estimate that Suvita’s programs are 23 times as cost-effective as unconditional cash transfers, with substantial potential for future growth in the reach of their work.

A 2022 Founders Pledge report found that both Suvita’s core interventions are ‘extremely cost-effective.’ Their model of Suvita’s work suggested that a $100,000 donation to Suvita would prevent 52 children’s deaths. While this estimate is uncertain, it would suggest a cost per life saved of less than $2,000.

Varsha Venugopal, one of Suvita’s co-founders, was a 2021 Rainer Arnhold Fellow.

Fortify Health prevents and reduces anemia at scale in India by fortifying wheat flour with iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12. Their work focuses on large-scale food fortification, partnering with flour mills to add essential nutrients to staple goods consumed by millions of people. Fortify Health is rapidly expanding and aims to reach 250 million people with fortified flour by the end of 2025, potentially reducing the prevalence of anemia among women of reproductive age by 7.5%. 

In December 2021, GiveWell recommended $8.2 million in funding for Fortify Health over five years, estimating that their work will be 8x more cost-effective than unrestricted cash transfers. As a rapidly growing organization, Fortify Health may reach further levels of cost-effectiveness at scale.

Shrimp Welfare Project aims to reduce the suffering of farmed shrimp, which are raised in vast numbers (as many as 400 billion annually) often under poor conditions. SWP achieves this through corporate partnerships and the promotion of more humane stunning practices. 

In their recommendation of SWP, Animal Charity Evaluators describe the organization as ‘exceptional’ even amongst the group of charities they recommend based on the cost-effectiveness of their work.

Open Philanthropy awarded SWP a $2 million grant in November 2023, a strong endorsement of their work's effectiveness and promise. 

In their initial funding commitment, the EA Animal Welfare Fund highlights the scale of SWP’s work and the fact that they are the only organization to explicitly focus on the welfare of shrimp.

Launched in 2019, the Fish Welfare Initiative works with farmers, corporations, and governmental agencies to improve fish welfare. Their work has broken new ground in the field of aquatic animal welfare, improving the conditions in which millions of fish in India are farmed.

In recommending the Fish Welfare Initiative (FWI) as a donation opportunity, Animal Charity Evaluators emphasize the cost-effectiveness of FWI’s government outreach and Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture (ARA) programs in India. 

In 2022, Open Philanthropy gave a $250,000 grant to FWI for its farmed fish welfare work in India.


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