Maximising the impact of charitable donations this World Malaria Day

Illustration: author

Five years ago, walking off a stag-do hangover in Bristol, I spotted a book that changed my life. Doing Good Better¹ by Dr William MacAskill argues that our altruism needs to be as effective as possible, which means that we need to make as much impact as possible for every pound or hour donated.

I found this concept to be remarkably empowering². The idea that not only can you focus your effort to have as much impact as possible, but that you have a responsibility to, created a lot of ideas for me and helped me to redefine how I saw work.

The fact that one can still make a huge impact, even if you don’t have much to give really appealed to me too. I’ve been there, felt powerless to help, so this lesson was revolutionary: no matter what your circumstances, you’re not powerless.

For this reason, whenever I get to choose a charity, I will always nominate a malaria charity³. The outlay is small (usually provision of mosquito nets or medicine) but the potential impact is massive: lives are literally being saved every day.

I still support the causes that are important to my friends and family when they are fundraising, and I have other causes that are close to my heart⁴, but I try to make sure that at least some money goes to malaria each year.

Why malaria?

Around 400,000 people die from this disease annually, and an estimated 200 million get sick. What’s so good about supporting malaria charities is that the interventions are cheap but incredibly effective at preventing transmission. What’s more, the effectiveness of this as a means of saving lives is supported by a wealth of research.


Lists of most effective charities, based on the impact provided per pound donated, supported by research and updated annually:

Malaria Charities:

Illustration: UN

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:

3 Good Health and Well-Being


¹ Note this is an affiliate link through to support local bookshops

² I feel that I haven’t advocated enough for this book, and the concept of effective altruism in general. I cannot understate how much this simple concept — maximise the amount of good you can do — has made a difference to my charitable giving, but also my career choices, and the direction I’m taking my writing in. I need to get this book into people’s hands.

³ Specifically, the Against Malaria Foundation

Exeter Foodbank, Asthma UK, The Dogs Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, Rewilding Britain.