We take happiness seriously
We maximise your impact
We conduct clear, rigorous analyses
We compare charities on a common metric
By focusing on happiness, we can compare charities on a universal metric called wellbeing-adjusted life years (WELLBYs). One WELLBY is equivalent to a 1-point increase on a 0-10 life satisfaction scale for one year. Unlike measures of health or wealth, WELLBYs capture the overall benefit people receive from an intervention.
The WELLBY approach is based on decades of research in social science, but we are the first to use this scientifically reliable tool to work out the best ways to help others.
Our evaluations so far
So far, we’ve evaluated four well-evidenced interventions. Antimalarial bednets, deworming tablets for intestinal worms, and cash transfers are considered to be some of the most cost-effective interventions based on their health and income benefits. However, our research shows that group psychotherapy is an overlooked intervention for improving happiness.
|The Intervention||Our approach||Key results||WELLBYs per $1k|
|Group psychotherapy||We systematically reviewed and meta-analysed 39 studies to determine the impact of group psychotherapy.||Psychotherapy has a large effect on wellbeing that diminishes over time but lasts up to 5 years.||62|
|Cash transfers||We systematically reviewed and meta-analysed 45 studies to determine the impact of cash transfers.||Cash transfers have a small, long-lasting, and statistically significant positive effect on subjective wellbeing.||8|
|Deworming tablets||There is one experiment tracking the long-term impacts of deworming. We conducted the first analysis of this data to determine the impact of deworming on wellbeing.||Based on this limited evidence, deworming tablets have a small, non-significant effect on happiness. The evidence is very uncertain, so we consider the effect 0 and we are not recommending deworming for now.||0|
|Antimalarial bednets||By preventing malaria, insecticide-treated bednets can improve quality of life and also save lives. The relative value of extending or improving life depends on your philosophical views on certain issues. We used existing estimates of the impact of bednets to see how their cost-effectiveness might change under various views.||
The cost-effectiveness of bednets depends heavily on the philosophical view. Ultimately, bednets are less cost-effective than psychotherapy under most assumptions, making psychotherapy our top choice.
However, if you have strong views on these issues, please read our in-depth report before deciding how to donate.
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We show the cost-effectiveness of the best charities we have evaluated so far in the graph below. The graph shows our estimate of how many WELLBYs would be generated from a $1,000 donation to each charity.
Note: we plan to update our analysis of StrongMinds by the end of 2023. This will include using new data and improving our methods. We expect our cost-effectiveness estimate will decrease by about 25% or more.
Notes for reading the graph...
- The diamonds represent the central estimate of cost-effectiveness.
- The solid whiskers represent the 95% confidence intervals for StrongMinds, deworming charities, and GiveDirectly.
- The vertical dashed line represents 0 WELLBYs.
- The vertical dotted line is the point estimate of StrongMinds’ cost-effectiveness.
- The lines for AMF (the Against Malaria Foundation) are different from the others. They represent the upper and lower bound of cost-effectiveness for different philosophical views (not 95% confidence intervals). Think of them as representing moral uncertainty, rather than empirical uncertainty. The upper bound represents the assumptions most generous to extending lives and the lower bound represents those most generous to improving lives.
- The slogan version of the philosophical views are:
- Deprivationism: prioritise the youngest
- Time-relative interest account (TRIA): prioritise older children over infants.
- Epicureanism: prioritise living well, not living long