Cost-Effectiveness of RC Forward


  • RC Forward moved $4.4M CAD (~ $3.3M USD) from Canadian donors.

  • $430K to $3.7M of donations may have been counterfactually caused by RC Forward.

  • RC Forward appears to have increased donations by 11% to 500%, with a best guess of 25% to 35%

  • Donating to RC Forward seems between 3 to 55 times more effective than donating funds directly to the EA charities which RC Forward regrants to.

RC Forward is a donation platform through which Canadians can make tax-advantaged donations to high-impact charities located inside and outside of Canada. We hypothesized that previously inaccessible tax incentives and fee elimination offered by this service would increase the donation total and individual gift sizes. This post details a cost-effectiveness analysis of RC Forward in 2018 and some reasons to limit the weight put onto any specific numbers.

We find that compared to estimates of how much would have been donated if RC Forward did not exist, donations appear to have increased by 11%-500%, with a best guess of 25-35%. Operating with minimal resources during its experimental phase, $3 to $55 more may have been donated for each $1 spent, which offers a potentially large impact for funders who cover RC Forward’s costs. We should be clear that the cost-effectiveness estimates are generally less robust than one expects and are only our approximations of uncertain quantitative parameters, which are potentially subject to bias and error. Much of the uncertainty is reflected in the ranges given, but exact numbers should not be taken as high-confidence precise estimates of the actual value RC Forward.

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