Hedge Fund Analytics for Nonprofits

After working for a hedge fund, two Ivy League grads applied their analytical skills to philanthropy

When bonus season came around, instead of deciding whether to buy a new suit, car, or a Caribbean vacation, hedge fund analysts Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld, both then 25, agonized over which charities to donate to. They put so much time and effort into figuring it out that they eventually left their jobs at Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund with more than $125 billion under management, to start GiveWell, a nonprofit that evaluates charities with hedge-fund–level rigor. “We were both interested in markets, but we were more interested in how to reduce diarrhea in infants in the developing world,” says Karnofsky, who graduated from Harvard in 2003.

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