top of page


  • Writer's pictureJulia Deufel

What is the cheapest way to save a life?

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

The less it costs to save a life, the more lives we can save. Most of you know what SMART goals are (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) and are goal-setting for the new year around this time.

What if I told you it's possible to add "save a life" to your new year's resolutions, and that you could achieve that goal in 2023 or within the next few years? Friends, I have good news. The hard work of researching the most cost-effective and evidence-backed ways to save a life has been done, and the results are in: It costs $3500-5500 to save a life, and here are four charities you can donate to, to be confident your donation has prevented a death from occurring.

You can make an impact with just $1 if that donation goes to an organisation that will effectively put it to use, and those donations will add up to a great impact over time. By donating $85 per month to one of the following organisations, you can be fairly confident you have saved a life within five years. If you live in an economically advanced place like the EU, the UK, Singapore, the United States or Australia, you will probably barely notice this amount leaving your bank account. But a child could live to become a healthy adult - because of you!

Who should you give to, to make the biggest impact with your donation?

Helen Keller International

Donate as little as $1 to ensure one child gets a life-saving vitamin A supplement. The estimated average cost-effectiveness is $3,500 per life saved. When a child is vitamin A-deficient, they are vulnerable to infections that can be lethal. Helen Keller International provides vitamin A supplements to children under five, which high-quality studies show can prevent up to 200,000 deaths per year.

Malaria Consortium

It costs about $7 to give a child preventive medicine that protects them from malaria, which might otherwise kill them. Malaria kills over 600,000 people annually, mostly children under five in sub-Saharan Africa. These lives could be saved - Malaria Consortium delivers medicine to children at an estimated average cost-effectiveness of $5,000 per life saved.

Against Malaria Foundation

Anti-malaria nets are the cheapest, most effective way to prevent malaria by providing a barrier to sleep under when malaria-carrying mosquitos are most likely to bite and infect people. It costs just $5 to provide a net to a family. Against Malaria Foundation has been one of the world's most effective charities for many years. The estimated average cost-effectiveness is $5,500 per life saved.

New Incentives

This program in Nigeria incentivises routine childhood vaccinations, which prevent disease and reduce child mortality. 43% of infants in Nigeria did not receive all recommended childhood vaccines in 2019. Providing cash incentives to families and caregivers is an effective way of saving many children's lives. New Incentives' cost-effectiveness is also estimated at $5000 per life saved. GiveWell estimates that this program can ensure a child gets vaccinated with $160.

GiveWell evaluates charities to find which organisations save or improve lives the most per dollar using evidence-based analysis of effectiveness. Organisations like One for the World, Giving What We Can, and Effektiv Spenden can arrange recurring donations for you and will always direct them to the current top most effective organisations. Minimal effort, maximum impact!

What is effective giving, anyway? Allow me to explain. Here's a blog post I prepared earlier.



bottom of page