THE GHC GIVING GAME
Welcome to the Global Health Conference Giving Game! This game has been created to encourage you to think critically about your choices when you donate to charities.
For a short introduction into why we think critical evaluation of charities is important, read on. To Proceed to the Giving Game, CLICK HERE.
GIVING FOR GIVING’S SAKE, WHAT AN IDEA… OH WAIT… MAYBE THAT’S REALLY DUMB…
Most charities do good work, and most people harbour a degree of reluctance to compare them. However, the simple fact is that there are real, measurable differences between the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different charities relative to one another – in fact, randomized control trials and Cochrane reviews have shown that some interventions can even be tens or hundreds of times more effective, per dollar spent, than others.
We think it is therefore imperative that medical students, who have a solid understanding of, and respect for, evidence-based clinical practice, aim to incorporate the same principles of evidence-based critical analysis into their choices about charities. The consequences of failing to apply these principles when selecting which charity to donate to could genuinely mean the difference between life and death.
HOW TO PLAY THE GIVING GAME
- Read through the information provided about the three charities here.
- Decide upon which charity you think is most worthy of your donation
- On the last page of this app, select your chosen charity, and $5 (yes, actually five real dollars) will be donated to that charity on your behalf
Feel free to speak to Brenton Mayer, Daniel Charles, Laura Koefler or any member of the ‘Run to Better Days’ team about your decision, or ask us any questions you may have. We’ll be floating around for the rest of the conference and would love it if you stopped us for a chat, or alternatively you can email us at email@example.com.
Good luck, and enjoy!
Brenton, Dan and Laura
The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) works with governments in sub-Saharan Africa to create and upscale mass deworming programs. SCI distributes praziquantel and albendazole to treat at-risk populations for schistosomiasis, hookworm, roundworm and lymphatic filariasis at a cost of $0.68 per person, as explained in the video below. Data collected by SCI itself, as well as from two Cochrane Reviews, shows that this cures most infections. However, the evidence is less clear on how this improves people’s lives, as available trials have produced variable results regarding the magnitude of the effects. Nonetheless, some of the outcomes of SCI’s programs look quite encouraging:
- 25% average increase in school attendance
- 25% average increase in income
- 2.4g/L average increase in haemoglobin concentration
World-leading charity evaluators GiveWell and Giving What We Can believe these to be impressive results for the low cost of $0.68 per person treated, and as such both rank SCI as one of the best charities in the world – see their websites for their reasoning and research.
The Against Malaria Foundation
The Against Malaria Foundation purchases long life insecticide treated nets to protect against malaria. Its partners (Red Cross, Partners In Health, and others) distribute these and then monitor the rates of nets becoming worn out (median 2.22 years), of net usage (80-90% average) and of local malaria prevalence (50% average decrease) over the next 6, 18, 30 and 48 months. 30 Randomised Controlled Trials and 2 Cochrane Reviews have demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of universal distribution of insecticide-treated nets. These studies, in conjunction with data produced by AMF, have demonstrated that, on average, every $2000-3000 donation to the Against Malaria Foundation produces the following results:
- 300 cases of malaria are averted
- The life of 1 child under the age of 5 is saved
- Haemoglobin concentration is increased on average by 5.7g/L in the 600 people the nets cover
As with SCI, the charity evaluators GiveWell and Giving What We Can also both rank the Against Malaria Foundation as one of the best charities in the world – see their websites for their reasoning and research.
The below news report gives a short introduction to AMF’s work:
World Vision aims to push people sustainably out of poverty using a community development approach (as outlined in the YouTube video shown below) However, like every other major development charity (Oxfam, UNICEF etc), it is not possible for individual donors or for charity evaluators to access detailed information on the precise breakdown of World Vision’s expenditure and thereby answer the question ‘How exactly is a donor’s dollar spent?’ Unfortunately, there has also never been a Randomised Controlled Trial which has investigated the effectiveness of community development programs, and charity evaluators GiveWell and Giving What We Can tend to be somewhat skeptical about the effectiveness of the sorts of programs that World vision run, for a number of reasons;
- World Vision does not release a breakdown of expenditure between different programs
- World Vision does not release adequate data to effectively gauge the impact of programs they run
- While it is certainly possible that World Vision’s programs work very well, it is the case that almost all international aid programs, when studied, often turn out to be effective to some degree, but are rarely as effective as anticipated. As such, outcome evaluation is essential to confidently assert that any intervention is beneficial to the target population.
As such, World Vision is not recommended by the charity evaluators GiveWell and Giving What We Can. They argue that donors are likely do more good by donating only to those programs which are supported by a comprehensive evidence base and which have demonstrated exceptional cost effectiveness, than by donating to groups which spread funds over many different programs, particularly if some of those programs have not been well evaluated and validated.