“What should we do with a given amount of limited resources if our aim is to do the most good?” This is the central question of global priorities research (GPR). It’s a question that, for much of philanthropic history, received surprisingly little attention.
Early attempts to make headway on this question offered surprising answers. In 2007, GiveWell was established and found priority programmes in global health which likely achieve >10 times the benefit of other, similar global health programmes. Cost-effectiveness researchers found that the best way to improve education in Kenya wasn’t to provide uniforms, schoolbooks, or additional teachers, but was rather to provide deworming pills to reduce children’s sick days.
Research on how to do the most good continues to have surprising payoffs. Global priorities researchers have shaped our thinking on the cost-effectiveness of global catastrophic risk reduction and improving the long-term future.
Our funding for research on global priorities serves two ends. First, we aim to make progress on “crucial considerations” — questions which, if answered, could significantly change the way we prioritise between grant areas. Second, we aim to create academic resources that can be used by students, governments, and other foundations to inform their actions on global problems.