When it comes to charity, some of the biggest names on Wall Street can be as hard-nosed about where they put their money as they are when investing.

Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman are just a few of the converts to “effective altruism,” a movement that calls for using data science to calculate how people can ensure each dollar they give has the greatest impact on those in need. It also extols having a high-paying job because a greater disposable income can help more people than volunteer work in the field.

Selected Philanthropists

Econometrics is the new buzzword in charity circles with a growing number of non-profit organizations applying a more scientific methodology to lure the rich and powerful to give more. GiveWell, for example, studies academic research and data to test a given approach and applies metrics such as “cost per life saved” or “financial benefits to recipients per dollar spent by donors.”

“When the end of the year comes, people prefer not donating than donating badly," said Alexandre Mars, a tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist-turned-philanthropist.

Algorithms, Reports

Which is why Mars set up Epic Foundation, where he manages a portfolio of 20 youth-focused social enterprises for donors. The idea is that high-net-worth individuals may not have the time to do the homework themselves but want guarantees they are getting value for money. Mars vets the charities by analyzing their data, ranking them through an algorithm and producing reports for each based on on-site visits and interviews.

“We want to track what we’ve donated,” he said. “In the non-profit world, this doesn’t exist: You would have to wait six months or a year for a brochure or get invited to a gala you have to pay" to attend.

GiveWell, which was founded by two former analysts at Bridgewater Associates, have their top picks each year.

For 2016 they selected Against Malaria Foundation, which funds insecticide-treated bednets for communities at high risk of malaria; GiveDirectly, which delivers cash directly to the extremely poor in developing countries; Deworm the World and Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, which pay for inexpensive but highly effective parasitic treatments.