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March 16th, 2014

How To Move More Nets?

For two years the Against Malaria Foundation was GiveWell's top rated charity. The AMF arranges distribution of mosquito nets in regions where malaria is a major problem, and these distributions take time to set up. Unfortunately, especially given the long lead time required, like many joint projects these can fall through. In late 2013 GiveWell stopped recommending additional donations to the AMF:

We have been following its negotiations, and this post discusses why AMF has been unable to finalize a sufficiently large distribution. At this time, we plan not to recommend more donations to AMF until and unless it commits the bulk of its current funds to net distributions. Note that this decision does not reflect a negative view of AMF, but rather reflects room for more funding related issues.
The idea is that until the AMF gets more nets out the door GiveWell doesn't think we should send them more money. This makes some sense, but here's how the AMF has reacted: (pdf)
AMF holds approximately $14.5 million. Were it to finalize the large distributions it is currently negotiating, it projects facing a shortfall of approximately $5 million. Because of this possible shortfall, it is not currently aiming to add potential distributions to its queue, and is waiting to see whether these distributions are finalized.
They're not working on lining up additional distributions after the current round because they're worried they'll be in a situation where they have more distributions committed than they can actually pay for. At the same time, GiveWell is not recommending more money for them because they don't currently think it will lead to additional net distribution.

It seems like the right outcome here is for the EA community to be able to reassure the AMF that if they can line up additional distributions the money will be available. The amounts in question seem doable: GiveWell's "money moved" numbers for 2013 aren't out yet, but based on the 2012 numbers and their quarterly updates (Q1, Q2, Q3) they probably moved about $20M in 2013 and should be able to move more than that now. Is this actually a guarantee we can make? If the AMF succeeded at allocating all of their funds and then some, and GiveWell put out a call for funding for them, how much would come in? How can we coordinate to provide the assurances necessary to actually get this done?

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