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Tl;dr

  1. The Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) has an expected funding gap of $3.6m in 2024.
  2. Some example things we think are worth doing but are unlikely to have funding for by default:
    1. Funding a Community Building Grant in Boston
    2. Funding travel grants for EAG(x) attendees
    3. Note that these are illustrative of our current cost-effectiveness bar (as opposed to a binding commitment that the next dollar we receive will go to one of these things).
  3. In collaboration with EA Funds we have produced models where users can plug in their own parameters to determine the relative value of a donation to CEA versus EA Funds.

Intro

The role of an interim executive is weird: whereas permanent CEOs like to come in with a bold new vision (ideally one which blames all the organization's problems on their predecessor), interim CEOs are stuck staying the course. Fortunately for me, I mostly liked the course CEA was on when I came in.

The past few years seem to have proven the value of the EA community: my own origin cause area of animal welfare has been substantially transformed (e.g. as recounted by Jakub here), and even as AI safety has entered the global main stage many of the people doing research, engineering, and other related work have interacted with CEA's projects.

Of course, this is not to say that CEA's work is a slamdunk. In collaboration with Caleb and Linch at EA Funds, I have included below some estimates of whether marginal donations to CEA are more impactful than those to EA Funds, and a reasonable confidence interval very comfortably includes the possibility that you should donate elsewhere.

We are fortunate to count the Open Philanthropy Project (and in particular Open Phil’s GCR Capacity Building program) among the people who believe we are a good use of funding, but they (reasonably) prefer to not fund all of our budget, leaving us with a substantial number of projects which we believe would produce value if we could fund starting or scaling them.

This post outlines where we expect marginal donations to go and the value we expect to come from those donations.

You can donate to CEA here.  If you are interested in donating and have further questions, feel free to email me (ben.west@centreforeffectivealtruism.org). I will also try to answer questions in the comments.

The basic case for CEA

Community building is sometimes motivated by the following: suppose you spent a year telling everyone you know about EA and getting them excited. Probably you could get at least one person excited. Then this means that you will have doubled your lifetime impact, as both you and this other person will go on to do good things. That’s a pretty good ROI for one year of work!

This story is overly simplistic, but is roughly my motivation for working on (and donating to) community building: it's a leveraged way to do good in the world.

And it does seem to be the case that many people whose work seems impactful attribute some of their impact to CEA:

  1. The Open Philanthropy longtermist survey in 2020 identified CEA among the top tier of important influences on people’s journey towards work improving the long-term future, with about half of CEA's demonstrated value coming through events (EA Global and EAGx conferences) and half through our other programs.
  2. The 80,000 Hours user survey in 2022 identified CEA as the EA-related resource which has influenced the most people’s career plans (in addition to 80k itself), with 64% citing the EA Forum as influential and 44% citing EAG.
  3. This selection of impact stories illustrates some of the ways we’ve helped people increase their impact by providing high-quality discussion spaces to consider their ideas, values and options for and about making impact, and connecting them to advisors, experts and employers. High-impact case studies include:
    1. Someone initially unconvinced of EA ideas took part in the introductory virtual program, and by the end of the program had given notice to their employer with intent on finding an AI safety job, and they now work as a software engineer for an AI safety organization.
    2. Someone who is on the technical staff on an AI safety team estimated that their EA group sped up his involvement in longtermist work by 2-6 years.
    3. Six of the 17 people doing Training for Good’s EU tech policy fellowship came from the EA Forum.
    4. Of the 64 top-scoring candidates for Charity Entrepreneurship’s program in 2022, 13 were found via EAG or EAGx, making it their second biggest source of top candidates.

Specific asks

Our financial runway currently extends until June 2024 (based on our current reserves, existing funding commitments, and budgeted spending). I'm ~80% confident that OP’s GCRCB program will fund us at roughly similar levels in 2024 as they did in 2023, meaning that where marginal funding on top of OP goes today is likely to be fairly similar to where it would go next year.

Therefore, I expect marginal funding that we raise from other donors (i.e. you) to most likely go to the following:

  • Community Building Grants: We would be interested in funding an organizer in Boston but currently don't have the budget. (Approx cost: $110,000).
  • Travel grants for EA conference attendees. Many of the people we would like to attend our conferences are financially unable to do so; giving them some money to cover travel and accommodation ($350 average for EAGx, $1,100 on average for EAG) can result in them attending. We estimate that we could spend an additional $295,000/year here before hitting diminishing returns (from people for whom the grant wasn't actually counterfactual, or whose impact we feel will be influenced less by our events).
  • EA Forum: I'm unable to succinctly describe the need here, and we will be doing a follow-up post solely devoted to Forum fundraising. But I do want to briefly mention that I would particularly like the Forum to have diverse funding since some of its value comes from hosting criticism of "powerful" people/organizations. I'm not aware of any instances of donors e.g. pressuring CEA to remove a post that's critical of them, but "hey can you please be a predominant funder of this thing which is critical of you" feels like an uncomfortable pitch to have to make.

We are raising unrestricted funds, but if one of these projects (or something else) seems substantially more cost-effective to you than the others, I would be interested to hear that. Also please note that these are illustrative of our current cost-effectiveness bar (as opposed to a commitment that the next dollar we receive will go to one of these things).

Background about CEA

A quick reminder of what we do

Our major programs are:

  • Events
  • Groups
    • Supporting around 200 university groups and their organizers
    • Providing grants and advice to city and national groups through the Community Building Grants program and Group Support Funding
    • Facilitating online engagement with and discussion of EA ideas via virtual programs
  • Online
  • Community Health & Special Projects
    • Hearing and investigating concerns from community members about misconduct or risks related to other people or organisations in the community
    • Reducing risks related to sensitive projects and risky actors
    • Conveying important and decision-relevant information to actors in the community
    • Identifying specific problems and finding specialists to work on them
  • Communications: Promoting and protecting EA and related ideas beyond the EA community, by engaging with the media and on social media

Our public dashboard includes key metrics for some of our core programs.[1] Our website has more about our strategy (but it’s worth reiterating that being in an interim period means we’re more uncertain about our strategy in 2024 and beyond than we typically would be).

Our budget and funding gap

CEA’s total budget in 2023 is $31.4m, although our actual expenditures are ~20% below budget YTD.

Team

2023 budget

Events

$15,383,296

   EAG

$9,454,861

   EAGx

$2,962,240

   Partner Events

$1,922,791

   Cross Events

$1,043,404

Groups

$6,880,936

   Post-uni Groups

$4,494,877

   Uni Groups

$1,260,191

   Virtual Programs

$907,196

   Cross Groups

$218,672

Online

$2,157,454

Community Health & Special Projects

$1,420,087

Communications

$890,945

CEA General

Inc. Exec Office, People Ops and other centralized infrastructure

$4,677,673

 

Total

$31,410,390

We expect that at the beginning of 2024 our 2024 baseline budget will be similar (80% CI: $28.2m - $32.2m).[2] Taking the low end of that estimate and assuming we receive 80% funding from Open Phil’s GCRCB program (which we have not yet secured),[3] and an expected ~$2 million from other established donors, leaves an expected funding gap of $3.6M.

Several CEA teams have previously posted more detailed budget breakdowns: EA Global, CEA Online Team.

Should you donate?

BOTECs

There are a bunch of organizations which work on things similar to what CEA does, but my guess is that the most directly comparable alternative donation target for CEA is EA Funds, and in particular the EA infrastructure fund. So EA Funds tried to collaborate on a set of BOTECs to help donors decide where to donate (see side note below).

As with most cost-effectiveness analyses, reasonable disagreements in parameter settings can result in >10x differences in cost-effectiveness. So we are providing a few different models which you can plug your own parameters into.

These models tend to be fairly brief, as our goal is to convey a sense of the key considerations, and we think that a more detailed model would obscure more than enlighten. That being said: we would be very excited for people to build upon these models and share the results (possibly during donation debate week!). You should also note that the BOTECs don’t focus on marginal projects at CEA.[4]

Huge thanks to Caleb and Linch from EA Funds for agreeing to collaborate on these models with me!

  1. This model compares a hypothetical LTFF grant to a biosecurity workshop with the labor that CEA staff spent on a similar event. It finds that the CEA expenditure is a bit more cost-effective.
  2. This model compares CEA's cost of producing Forum Digests to a grant that the EA Infrastructure Fund gave for creating Forum + LW summaries. It finds that CEA expenditure is more cost-effective.
    1. This is a nice comparison because the work is extremely comparable, but it's a bad comparison because EAIF thinks this grant would be below their current funding bar. I made this BOTEC before I knew that fact, so I'm publishing it because having more data seems good, but caution is advised when interpreting the results. It at least shows that CEA is not substantially below the old EAIF funding bar. 
    2. Thanks to Zoe Williams for sharing some information about this grant and being willing to do a BOTEC of its effectiveness publicly.

Side note on the collaboration with EA Funds

Unfortunately, the EA Funds staff weren't able to devote much time to these comparisons, so the work was mostly done by myself and Angelina Li (who is also at CEA). We've done our best to make them impartial, but you may wish to consider the origin of the models when evaluating them.

General thoughts

Here are some general points you may wish to consider, beyond the BOTECs:

  1. If you generally agree with the priorities of major EA donors, and know about projects that they would like to fund but can't for COI, PR, or other reasons, you might want to donate to those instead of CEA. (Similarly to how, if you and an acquaintance both wanted to donate to a certain kind of project, and only you could donate to the US-based charities because you were American, it might make sense for you to ignore the non-US-based charities.)  
  2. If you disagree with the priorities of major EA donors (notably, if you want CEA to be less GCR-focused than OP’s GCRCB team), you may wish to donate to CEA to preserve funder diversity.
    1. OP has never, to my knowledge, asked CEA to stop doing something because it wasn't GCR-focused enough, but they have declined to fund activities which are not GCR-focused enough, which de facto means that CEA will not do those things unless we get outside funding. However, it feels really hard for me to predict what OP will want to fund next year, so I hesitate to make this pitch very strongly, but it is something you may consider.
  3. You may also care about funder diversity for other reasons: limiting the COI that CEA has when e.g. hosting criticism of OP, or increased robustness to funding shocks that affect OP.
  4. If you think there are economies of scale, you might want to donate to CEA (as one of the larger community building organizations). Conversely, if you think there are diminishing returns, you might want to donate to something like EAIF or MCF.
    1. This post makes the argument in favor of larger organizations; I can’t find a post that precisely argues in favor of the opposite, but this kind of points in that direction.

Next steps

 

  1. ^

     At the time of writing: last updated 13 November.

  2. ^

     We also expect that our budget will change during the year: we have a midyear budget update process, and we may update our spending plans before then depending on the timing of a new CEO being in office and the success of our fundraising efforts.

  3. ^

     Open Phil’s GCRCB program tries not to fund more than their "fair share" of organizations like CEA; this year it was 80%, and my understanding is that the future amount has not been decided but will depend on the amount of funding elsewhere in the meta GCR reduction ecosystem.

  4. ^

     I've heard some feedback from people that understanding the squiggle code can become complicated if you haven't done it before; Ozzie Gooen, one of the creators of squiggle, suggested joining the discord and said that they would be happy to help answer any questions people may have.

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Huh, this feels like a somewhat weird post without mentioning the FTX settlement for $22.5M that EV just signed: https://restructuring.ra.kroll.com/FTX/Home-DocketInfo (Memo number 3745). 

My guess is Open Phil is covering this, but my guess is there is a bunch of additional risk that funds you receive right now would become part of this settlement that donors should be able to model.

My guess is you can't talk about this for legal reasons in a post like this (though that does seem sad and my guess is you've been too risk-averse in the domain of sharing any information in this space publicly), but seems important for people to know when someone is assessing what is going on with EV and CEA.

Thanks for flagging! New donations won’t be used for this settlement. The funding for the settlements has already been secured, and none of EV’s projects will need to allocate any additional funding. Besides funding that came from FTX, no funds that have previously been donated to a specific project will be used as part of this settlement.

As noted by Jason, the EV US settlement remains subject to court approval, and we won’t be commenting on it further while the settlement process is still underway. With that being said, we didn’t want any misunderstandings to disrupt CEA’s fundraising efforts in the meantime. 

On the last paragraph, I would note that the settlement isn't effective unless and until approved by the court (although such approval is extremely likely). Most likely, the lawyers will urge radio silence until the time to appeal the bankruptcy judge's order to the district judge has passed (generally 14 days, see Bankruptcy Rule 8002 for exceptions). An appeal would be very unlikely in my opinion.

EV US just signed this; EV UK is a separate legal entity and presumably is not party to this agreement. But perhaps EV UK never received any money?

For tax reasons, it would likely make sense to funnel donations from a US corporation to the US organization. So EV UK not receiving any money directly wouldn't surprise me at all. The US org could presumably re-grant it to the UK org if needed, following the usual rules for international grantmaking by 501(c)(3)s.

I have no idea what to make of this legal speak, but just the next memo (number 3746) mentions EV UK and some settlement for $4MM



If anyone can explain what this means that would be great

Good catch! Yes, that's a notice of proposed settlement. At that dollar value, the parties have to give notice of the proposed settlement (but not a copy thereof) and a short period for anyone to object. If no one does, they can execute the settlement -- I believe without further public notice.

Here, it looks like the proposed settlement is for about 90 percent of the high end of the potential claim value listed.

Therefore, I expect marginal funding that we raise from other donors (i.e. you) to most likely go to the following:

  • Community Building Grants [...] $110,000
  • Travel grants for EA conference attendees [...] $295,000
  • EA Forum [...] [Nuño: note no mention of the cost in the EA forum paragraph]

You don't mention the cost of the EA forum, but per this comment, which gives more details, and per your own table, the "online team", of which the EA Forum was a large part, was spending ~$2M per year.

As such I think that your BOTECs are uninformative and might be "hiding the ask":

  1. This model compares a hypothetical LTFF grant to a biosecurity workshop with the labor that CEA staff spent on a similar event. It finds that the CEA expenditure is a bit more cost-effective.
  2. This model compares CEA's cost of producing Forum Digests to a grant that the EA Infrastructure Fund gave for creating Forum + LW summaries. It finds that CEA expenditure is more cost-effective.

 

we will be doing a follow-up post solely devoted to Forum fundraising

I look forward to this. In the meantime, readers can see my own take on this here: in short, I think that the value of the forum is high but the marginal value of having a massive, $2M/year, online team is very low, possibly negative. 

As an illustration of the marginal value point, I don't think that this point goes through because I think that the forum is equally capable of hosting criticism at $500k a year than at $2M/year. 

I would particularly like the Forum to have diverse funding since some of its value comes from hosting criticism of "powerful" people/organizations. I'm not aware of any instances of donors e.g. pressuring CEA to remove a post that's critical of them, but "hey can you please be a predominant funder of this thing which is critical of you" feels like an uncomfortable pitch to have to make.

As a result, I don't think EA community members should be donating to CEA at this time.

> As such I think that your BOTECs are uninformative and might be "hiding the ask"

Thanks for the comment. Just to clarify right away: the Forum doesn’t have $2M room for more funding (it’s not the case that a huge portion of marginal donations would go to the Forum).

Responding in more detail:

I'm not sure I'm interpreting you correctly, but I think you are saying something like:

  1. I (Ben) give three examples of where marginal funding is likely to go
  2. The first two of these total ~$400k, whereas the total cost of the forum is ~$2M
  3. Therefore, we should expect that 2/2.4 = 83% of marginal funding will go to the forum
  4. But only one of the two BOTECs was evaluating the cost-effectiveness of a forum project
  5. This is 50% of the BOTECs covering 83% of the expenses, which is off (since 50% < 83%)

I think (3) (if that’s what you’re saying) has a few confusions:

  1. I expect the Forum to continue to get substantial funding from existing donors; it doesn't have $2M room for more funding
  2. My three examples are not intended to be exhaustive, and the BOTEC-ed projects were chosen mainly because they seemed to have an EA Funds grant we could easily compare them to

So I would expect that much less than 83% of marginal funding will go to the Forum. 

I mostly want to delay a discussion about this until the post fully dedicated to the Forum, but as mentioned in this post, I'm interested in donors expressing a preference for their donations, and if you would like to donate to "everything except the forum" or something I would be interested to hear that.

Yeah, good catch, my argument has a bunch of unstated assumptions.

I think I'm saying something with an additional twist, which is: because I think that the marginal value forum funding is so low, I think the correct move is to not support CEA at all.

Consider CEA as having (numbers here are arbitrary), a core of $15M in valuable projects and $20M in "cruft"; projects that made sense when there was unlimited FTX money around but not so much now. Open Phil, seeing this, reduces funding from $35M/year to $30M, to force CEA to cull some of that cruft.

In response, CEA could protect that cruft by committing to using a "Washington monument strategy", i.e., putting more valuable projects on the chopping block first, and asking the community for an additional $5M to save them. 

Note that this here is an "unconscious economics" type argument, i.e., I am not saying that you are twirling your mustache saying "oh yes, we will do a Washington monument strategy". I merely think that you are just failing to cut cruft, in a way which is understandable because letting go of people, and having people lose reports is hard. But by asking people for funding when you have some projects whose value is less than the value of marginal funding of projects outside of CEA, and not putting them on the chopping block, you do end up doing something functionally similar to a Washington monument strategy.

I think the answer to a Washington monument strategy is to call the bluff, and then iteratively converge to a funding amount for CEA that makes sense, and a scenario where CEA becomes smaller. This could involve other people taking over projects that CEA doesn't fund, and Open Phil looking at the remaining projects and reducing its funding further, etc. 

Some stuff which would really change my mind:

  • Comparing the number of CEA employees before and after FTX, and seeing that it's the same or lower
  • Comparing the budget of CEA before and after FTX and seeing that it's actually the same or lower

Taking a step back, I am suggesting that you fire a bunch of people. Might be all well and good in abstract terms but these are real people who have invested a bunch of their career capital at CEA. Maybe one way to make this less painful would be to give them exit grants with which they could attempt some altruistic project of their own, or get some runway before finding another place to work at.

CEA’s spending in 2023 is substantially lower than in 2022: down by $4.8 - 5.8 million.

The graph below shows our budget as it stood early in the year, reflecting our pre-FTX plans, and compares that to how our plans and spending have evolved as we’ve adapted to the new funding environment. This has happened during an Interim period in which we’ve tried where possible not to make hard-to-reverse changes that constrain the options of a new CEO.

We currently have the same number of Core staff that we did at the end of 2022 (37), but staff costs are a relatively small proportion of our overall spending (around 20% in 2023).

  • For example, we spend a lot on events, and have cut a lot of event spending, but largely by reducing passthrough costs rather than by firing people from what is already a small team relative to the scale of its activities.
  • In contrast, the costs of the Online team responsible for the Forum are much more staff-heavy, and we don’t have plans to replace several people who left the team this year. We did recently hire one new person to work on Forum content.
  • It’s also worth noting that we postponed as much hiring as we could during our ongoing Interim period, so we expect our total number of staff to increase in 2024 relative to today’s benchmark. We expect that increasing staff costs as a proportion of our spending will increase the quality and cost-effectiveness of our programs.

Nice, do you have your costs and staff numbers for 2021?

In 2021, we spent $6.9m and ended the year with 29 staff. This is not an apples-to-apples comparison, because those staff include five members of what was then the CEA ops team, and is now the EV Ops team, so the more direct comparison is with 24 staff at that time.

You can see on our dashboard some of the ways our programs have changed since 2021 (three in-person EAG events compared to one, nine EAGx events compared to zero, etc).

Thanks for the clarification, but I'm still not sure I understand. I think your argument is:

  1. CEA has projects that are worth funding (say, arbitrarily, our comms team)
  2. Additionally, we have projects that are not worth funding (in particular: the Forum)
  3. However to make the case for marginal funding stronger we are presenting the stuff that's worth funding as "marginal", and stating that the stuff that's not worth funding isn't "marginal".

Is that correct?

If so, I'm confused because the Forum is included in the list of marginal projects, which seems to violate (3).

Maybe alternatively you are saying:

3'. To make the case for marginal funding stronger we are presenting BOTECs about projects other than the Forum

But again this doesn't seem right to me because one of the BOTECs was about the forum.

one of the BOTECs was about the forum

I don't think you can justify a $2M/year expenditure with an $11k/year BOTEC ($38/hour * 6 hours/week * 52 weeks), because I think that the correct level at which expenditure in the forum should be considered marginal is closer to $1M/year than $10k/year.

"The past few years seem to have proven the value of the EA community" 

This is the second CEA post to make claims like this without mentioning the FTX fraud. 

Yeah, this post is pretty heavily premised on the assumption that EA community building is good. If you do not share that assumption (e.g. because you think FTX makes EA net negative in expectation) then donating to CEA seems unwise. (Maybe it would have been clearer if I’d made that premise explicit, but I’ll leave it as-is now.)

My honest experience is that there is a set of donors who basically buy the "talent is valuable, and if you ask people doing impactful work what influenced them, CEA is high on the list, so CEA is impactful" argument, and for some of them FTX was an update but not enough to change whether CEA was above their funding bar. And there is another set who just entirely disagree with this line of reasoning, and for them CEA was never above the funding bar. I'm having difficulty thinking of many of the donors we interact with directly for whom FTX moved CEA from being above to below the funding bar, but if this describes someone reading this comment I would be interested to hear from you.

(Note that CEA staff have written a bunch of things about FTX, including multiple posts from me personally. Readers may also be interested in this investigation into EA reforms.)

My objection was specifically to the claim that "the last few years have proven the value of the EA community" which is an absurd thing to say given the FTX debacle. 

It's also odd to ask for money without explaining why you have a funding gap, what role CEA played in FTX, whether it could have done better, what has changed etc

Can you say why you think it's absurd? A lot of people doing seemingly impactful work say that the EA community substantially helped them (see above). The arguments I know of which claim that the harms from FTX outweigh this deny the assumption that EA work is actually impactful (specifically: they usually say something like 1. AI is the only thing that matters, and 2. EA work on RLHF etc. sped up capabilities more than safety, making the average impact small/negative).

If this is your view than fair enough, but it's not one that I (or, I think, most people) share.

Perhaps the thinking was that FTX is not directly relevant to this specific post?

But I agree, clearly FTX is on the minds of many people reading this, so avoiding the elephant in the room is not working.

FTX is highly relevant to this post in all sorts of ways. Aside from that, sentences like the one I quoted are profoundly weird. 

Jason
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If you disagree with the priorities of major EA donors (notably, if you want CEA to be less GCR-focused than OP’s GCRCB team), you may wish to donate to CEA to preserve funder diversity.

In most scenarios, the benefits of a marginal increase in funder diversity seem rather modest in comparison to the opportunity costs. At present, OP would be ~ $22.6MM of a $28.2MM budget, with other established donors at ~ $2MM and a funding gap of ~ $3.6MM. In other words, depending on how much of the gap was filled, OP would be funding somewhere between 80 and 92% of the budget.  Where the actual percentage is within that range has ~ zero impact on my assessment of COI risk, and not too much more impact on my assessment of its potential influence on CEA more generally. (Of course, some of the "other" donors are also GCR-focused, and so do not contribute to funder diversity from a cause-area perspective.) 

Stated metaphorically, this feels like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I think the effect of funder diversity may be very roughly exponential between 0% and ~50%,[1] but in the sense that the effect may be "almost imperceptable" at 8% and "very modest" at 20%.

Moreover, it's not clear that if I hypothetically had $1MM to donate this year (I don't!), that doing so while identifying strongly as a non-GCR donor would generate any appreciable shift in the focus of CEA's work as a result of marginally increasing funder diversity. I'm sure hypothetical me could earmark those funds, but money is fungible. I'm not sure I am getting much "vote" for my $1MM. 

On the other hand -- given that non-GCR meta seems much more thinly funded than GCR and GCR-leaning meta -- $1MM could have a pretty significant effect if the donor figured out a way to counterfactually increase non-GCR meta spending by other organizations by most of $1MM. So the opportunity cost of improving CEA's funder diversity to a donor interested in non-GCR meta seems fairly high. This may be even more so at the $100K point, which would still be a pretty significant donation to (e.g.) Probably Good.

 

  1. ^

    50% is a stand-in for the point at which the organization could perceive itself as substantially continuing to exist without the predominant donor's support. I'm hazy on what substantially means here; obviously, it would involve a lot of downsizing but would be significantly more than the minimum viable organization.

Yep, I ~agree – I think people should mostly be donating because they want to fund things like what was listed as the counterfactual projects (e.g. an organizer in Boston).

Has CEA ever solicited funding from Open Phil's Global Health and Wellbeing team and/or does CEA have plans to do so? If not, why not? 

IMO a world where CEA got e.g. 50% of its funding from OpenPhil's GCR team and 35% of its funding from OpenPhil's GHW team would be vastly preferable (due to incentives being better aligned with the broader community) to CEA getting 80% of its funding from OpenPhil GCR.  

Yep! We have solicited and received funding from Open Philanthropy’s Effective Altruism (Global Health and Wellbeing) program. We most recently worked together with them on an Effective Giving Summit earlier this year (funded by them and organized by our Partner Events team). 

We have discussed whether they or other OP teams (other than GCRCB) would be interested in funding CEA. While I don’t want to speak for them, my (briefly summarized) understanding of why we have had more success with GCRCB is because they have a higher willingness to pay for talent.

Thanks for clarifying this! I agree with Jason’s point that the percentage of CEA’s funding coming from OP’s GCRCB team is high enough that the exact figure doesn’t really change the incentives much. But I’m very glad that CEA has made the effort to try and diversify OP’s funding.

I do want to flag that if your understanding is correct, it seems quite bad/weird that the incentives/priorities/strategies of the most important EA community building organization are significantly (mainly?) influenced by differences in “willingness to pay for talent” between OP’s GCRCB and GHWCR teams.

Miri
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Leaving all other pro or con arguments for this funding opportunity aside for the purpose of this comment, I think the opportunity cost argument here is really strong. 
$3.6m is about the amount it would take to cover 100% of Charity Entrepreneurship and 100% of Probably Good's yearly budget, as well as 50% of Giving What We Can's yearly budget. 
Comparing that to the effects of adding donor diversity to a 80-90% longtermist supported org, it seems really hard to make the case for this being the best investment if the main reason you are interested in this opportunity is to diminish EAs focus on longtermism.

I feel like you're comparing the marginal benefit of CEA, to the total benefits the other groups.

I'd guess that much of CE's and GWWC's core needs will be met, so the more relevant ask might be the remaining parts where there's some uncertainty. 

(Not saying this change is enough to change one's decision, but flagging that I think the default comparison is unfair) 

Ah yeah, I would be surprised if this was the main motivation of many donors. I expect that most of our donors donate because they like our work and want to see more of it, e.g. they want Boston to have a paid organizer, and that currently seems like a thing that would not happen without further donations.

Some quick thoughts:
- I'm continue to be thankful to the staff at CEA and hope the team good luck going forward, especially around the new ED and whatever direction that might bring.
- I think it's unhealthy for the ecosystem for CEA to get such a high ratio of funding from OP. When this happens, I assume that CEA adjusts to represent the interests of OP more than I'm comfortable with. As such, I'm excited by other donors becoming involved here.
- At this point, I'm probably most excited about "long term institutional health" improving than anything else. Between FTX, some of this OpenAI fiasco, and other issues, I think that the "EA Bureacracy" has some maturing to do. If there are ways that CEA could help here (maybe by reinforcing/helping the community health team, or with some project like [these](https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/s/jxBRTDWZZYBbknuGK/p/Cvn6fwzdoLNLgTJif), I'd be most optimistic, though I realize these are tough to do well.
- It seems tricky to raise money while waiting on a new ED, but so it goes.
- I'm happy you provided BOTECs, but these strike me a bit like toy examples. Also, of course, happy to see Squiggle used! (I'm biased, of course). I'm not sold on the use of Shapley values for the first one - I'm personally not a big fan of Shapley values for these things - but this is a smaller point.

> we think that a more detailed model would obscure more than enlighten

I realize this might be controversial, but I'd be excited about a world where CEA posts generic costs+benefits of all of the big programs. I wouldn't fault CEA, as no one else does this yet, but I think some of this would be very useful, though perhaps too confrontational. 

Anyway, again, I'd really like to see CEA do well in the future, and would encourage motivated donors to ideally work with them to help make that happen. I'd be most excited about active donors who could really help give feedback on initiatives and help provide a contrasting viewpoint to OP.

I'd be excited about a world where CEA posts generic costs+benefits of all of the big programs. I wouldn't fault CEA, as no one else does this yet, but I think some of this would be very useful, though perhaps too confrontational. 

 

Agreed that this could be very useful. It could also (as I argued here) be useful to have more such models produced by independent evaluators.[1]

 

  1. ^

    Although, I also think there is value in seeing models from the orgs themselves for ~ reasoning transparency purposes.

Thanks Ozzie!

I'd be excited about a world where CEA posts generic costs+benefits of all of the big programs

Could you say more about what this looks like? In particular: are you suggesting that we pull together information that is already publicly available but spread out (e.g. metrics of how much we impact people are spread across various EA survey and OP LTist survey posts) versus publishing something which doesn't already exist (e.g. our internal estimates of the dollar value we should assign to those survey results)?

Many of CEAs projects seem nicely split up. (Events, Community Health, Groups).

Costs

I could imagine a list of the money / counterfactual costs spent on each. A bit tricky, but doable. You'd have to include overhead, of course.

Benefits

Very simple models of the value of each project. These could be in some kind of relative value, so we could at least tell things like, "Project X seems to be more valuable in total than Project Y, though less efficient"

Even relatively simple versions of this could be illuminating and help for making consensus. 

I'd be happy to put together a simple potential version of this if that could be useful. It could make sense for it to be private (within the org) for a while, maybe a long time, if you don't have internal accounting like this already. 

Yes this would be amazing! We're trying to do something similar with EA Netherlands. 

$110,000 for a single community builder in Boston seems awfully high? 

I'm guessing this is meant to include budget for event delivery on so on, but I think it would be worth being explicit in that given the perception at times of very liberal spending within community-building and that this is cited as an example of a marginal donation to CEA.

Presumably the line item includes not just what we would think of as salary but at least tax contributions, cost of health , insurance, and other benefits, possibly event etc. costs, and possibly an internal charge for operations overhead. The latter is common in many contexts -- e.g., if you're a professor, your university may "charge" you a 10 percent overhead contribution.

Agree that it would be good to see a little more breakdown.

For sure! Though my rough take would this would add up to maybe $60-70k all in? (perhaps I'm undershooting average salary estimates based on UK numbers)

That's a reasonable estimate to me, though I was guessing lower end of that.

The qualifications/experience of the candidate, whether they'd have dependents who need health insurance, etc. are unknown so I assume we'd use expected value.

I think my family's health insurance is ~28K for three people, mostly paid by my wife's employer. Would be slightly less if we used my employer's plan. About 40% of that for a solo. Dental and vision extra.

Hi, I’m the CBG manager at CEA and happy to explain how we came to this amount. 

This $110,000 does indeed include a block grant of $20,000 that is intended to cover all non-salary costs, such as event costs and general operating expenses. Some non-salary costs in the past have included: venue rent, retreat costs, travel compensation for volunteers, and small regrants to local (student) groups. 

The remaining $90,000 is intended to cover the personal grant and should fund all employment related costs, such as taxes, social security contributions, and other benefits. And the gross salary itself of course, which will be lower than the personal grant because of all the other employment costs. 

We adjust the personal grant based on cost of living and $90,000 is our upper bound, defined as the CoL of San Francisco. Boston has a lower CoL than San Francisco so the personal grant will likely be lower than $90,000. We generally follow our personal grant formula, but infrequently make exceptions for exceptional candidates so I have included the upper bound in this ask.  

I don’t know exactly how much would be deducted from the personal grant for employment related costs and other benefits in Boston, but taking the cost of living adjustment into account I would guess the actual gross salary would be on the lower end (or slightly below) the shared range above. 

We have come to these policies as we think CBG’s work is really impactful and often people who would do the best job have high opportunity costs. It’s probably worth noting that salaries in the US are generally higher than in the UK/Europe and we would like to compensate our grantees decently. 

We have re-evaluated the granting formula this spring and decided to neither increase nor decrease the personal salary grant. Grantees can decide to take a voluntary salary reduction and some have done this but I prefer this to stay a personal choice. 

For extra info, here's my personal situation.

In Feb this year, CEA granted me EUR 89,905 as part of the CBG programme. USD 20,000 of that is for 'operational costs'. At EAN we treat this 20k as 'money we can freely spend without having to apply for a grant' — for example, software tools, organiser retreats, etc. 

Once taxes are paid, I get EUR 3,167.75 in my account every month. And then in May I also get my holiday allowance.

I need to pay my pension from that 3.1k. I haven't set this up yet (I know, I know, very bad) but, if I remember correctly, this should be around EUR 600 every month. 

For context, at my previous job (well paid but I wasn't optimising for income), I received EUR 3,533.25 every month, I didn't have to pay anything towards an additional pension, I worked 4 days a week, and I had 34 days of holiday per year (I now have 25). This was a very good deal. For further context, according to a quick google, the median net monthly income in NL is EUR 2,152.

P.S. Until I started writing this I'd forgotten how good my old job was... I hope this doesn't come across as me complaining, I'm more than happy with my compensation, I just wanted to give an idea of what a CBG gets in return for their work.