Google is granting $3.5MM to 10 Bay Area charities. But they’re using public voting to determine which 4 charities receive $500,000 instead of $250,000. If you want to help move $1MM from less effective charities to more effective ones, you should consider voting since there’s a pretty clear divide in effectiveness.
- Center for Employment Opportunities has some evidence that it’s a good cause. In fact, this evidence takes the form of the longest RCT I’ve ever seen written (187 pages). CEO generated a large but short-lived increase in employment for recently released prisoners and the increase was driven by CEO’s transitional jobs. By the end of the first year of the study period though, the program and control groups were equally likely to be employed, and their earnings were similar. The big deal is that CEO reduced recidivism during both the first and the second year of the study period. The program group was significantly less likely than the control group to be convicted of a crime, to be admitted to prison for a new conviction, or to be incarcerated for any reason in prison or jail during the first two years of the study period.
- Hack the Hood – Teaches low-income students how to code websites for local businesses. Quite easily the second most effective charity in this bunch, just by eyeballing.
- Mission Asset Fund – Normally not a high-value intervention, this local microlending service makes the cut as one of the four most effective charities in this crop due to the lack of promising alternatives. They helps the working poor get loans to apply for citizenship so they don’t face the ongoing and often exploitative costs associated with living as undocumented workers.
- Bring Me A Book – A literacy program actually using tablets instead of books? OK, since reading is predictive of life success and this program is actually innovative, this is probably the last best pick.
Then there are 2 mediocre charities:
- Subart & Community Music Center – Art and music program are nice. Better than lighting money on fire, but probably not high impact.
And then there are 4 anti-charities that turn money into less valuable assets:
- Beyond 12 & BUILD are stuck in the 1900’s and perversely encouraging low-income students to waste their time and money on college.
- The Health Trust is stuck in the 1800’s and quixotically teaching people to farm in the modern era because the founder doesn’t understand that creating organic gardens to feed the poor is unsustainable malinvestment.
- Pogo Park present arguably the worst charitable opportunity in the bunch. Trying to build more parks in a world where kids don’t even play in the parks that exist. Extra negative points for passing your charity off as a research-based intervention by concocting a poorly written, unpublished review paper that links to low-quality, cherry picked narratives with no science.
I’ve probably got overly-strong views on the matter. But if you agree with my analysis, consider voting for Mission Asset Fund, Hack the Hood, Bring Me A Book, and the Center for Employment Opportunities now.