This time of year is when the World Bank has its annual community connections campaign (CCC), where staff are encouraged to contribute to a range of local and international charities. Likewise in Washington the Federal Government runs the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), which just ended last week. World Bank staff have a choice of 289 charities to choose between; Federal workers have over 4000. So how to choose if you want to have an impact?
One immediate answer that came to mind as I sat down to choose where to donate was to look at the recommendations of Givewell , which is a charity evaluator that aims to assess which charities offer most impact from your donations. They have reviewed over 800 charities, and have a short-list  of highly recommended charities which work in many of the areas that recent impact evaluations have shown to have high returns – deworming, bednets to prevent against malaria, giving cash grants directly to poor households, etc. However, I was disappointed to find that of their top-ranked charities, only one (Pratham), appears on either the World Bank or the Federal lists.
I looked at what determines eligibility for being included on the World Bank CCC list – organizations must be nominated by at least 10 World Bank Group staff members or retirees, be incorporated non-profits, be directly involved in helping improve the lives of poor people, and then meet a bunch of regulatory requirements (e.g. prepare certain reports and filings, etc.). Like many development projects, the emphasis is on process, rather than outcomes or impact.
The CCC and CFC are to be commended for the money they raise and spur to giving that they induce in the DC workforce. But it would be nice to see a little more help for potential donors in making sure there is a chance to have an impact with our donations. So here’s my challenge for next year:
· For Bank staff and Federal workers: Let’s see if we can get more of these highly rated charities added to the list of charities we get to choose between; and
· For Givewell: expand the range of charities you recommend – or at least blackmark ones you don’t recommend – these large workplace campaigns should be a tremendous opportunity to have an impact.
· For charities: I want more than a picture of kid or a buffalo or a water pump in the Washington Post Express extolling me to consider your charity when making my donation this year – show us evidence that you are having an impact, or at least trying to figure out whether you are and how you can do it better.