Donate to the most
cost-effective charities
that increase global wellbeing

Our approach

Our pioneering approach finds charities that generate happiness most cost-effectively.

Maximise impact: We maximise your impact by focusing on neglected problems in low-income countries (where funding goes further).

Happiness matters: We believe that subjective wellbeing—how people feel during and about their lives—is what ultimately matters. Outcomes like health and wealth only matter if they improve happiness.

Rigorous analysis: We recommend charities based on academic-level research. Our analyses estimate impact comprehensively, including effects on others and over time.

Common currency: We compare charities on a common 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.

We use WELLBYs to compare the impact of charities that improve different outcomes, such as health or finances. This is the only approach to charity evaluation that allows us to make apples-to-apples comparisons. No other charity evaluator uses this approach. 

To learn more, read about our key ideas, our research overview, and our explanation of the WELLBY approach.

Our top recommendation

StrongMinds is a non-profit that provides effective treatment for women struggling with depression in Uganda and Zambia.

Summary

Depression has substantial negative effects on subjective wellbeing, but mental health services are significantly underfunded in low-income countries. StrongMinds provides free group interpersonal therapy to help women with depression. Over 8-10 sessions, the women work with a facilitator to identify the underlying triggers of their depression and strategize solutions to their problems.

The evidence

We estimated the impact of StrongMinds using a meta-analysis with more than 40 studies. We compare the cost-effectiveness of StrongMinds to other charities below.

Funding need

StrongMinds is planning for rapid growth. In order to do this, they need to raise a further $20 million over the next two years.

Our evaluations so far

So far, we’ve evaluated four well-evidenced interventions.

Intervention Summary
Psychotherapy  Group psychotherapy is the most cost-effective intervention we have evaluated.
Cash transfers Group psychotherapy is 9x more cost-effective than cash transfers.
Deworming tablets (report forthcoming) Deworming tablets have no significant benefit to happiness (based on the existing evidence).
Anti-malarial bednets

Bednets are less cost-effective than psychotherapy in most cases. 

The effectiveness depends on your philosophical views about the badness of death and the point at which a person’s wellbeing changes from positive to negative. If you have strong views on these issues, please read our in-depth report before deciding how to donate.

Bednets, deworming, 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 the most cost-effective intervention for improving happiness.

After a rigorous search, we identified StrongMinds as the best charity delivering group psychotherapy in low-income countries, making them our current recommendation for donors at this time.

Support further research

We have a pipeline of promising interventions to analyse, but our progress depends on the financial support of our donors. We still need to raise $500,000 to cover our 2023 budget.

Charities we want to evaluate:

Interventions we want to evaluate:

  • Reducing air pollution 
  • Preventing childhood trauma 
  • Mental health apps 
  • Cataract surgery

Make a tax-deductible donation in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands using the link above.

Donations from other countries can be made using the link above, but will not be tax-deductible.

To discuss other options, please contact us at:
hello@happierlivesinstitute.org

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