First meta-note: I think impala made a wise point that any requests for support posted on this forum should make a case for why you shouldn’t support a GiveWell-endorsed direct-action charity instead, such as GiveDirectly or AMF. Therefore, I am writing this request for support from that perspective.
Second meta-note: based on Ryan Carey and Tom Ash’s suggestions, I would appreciate feedback, private or public in comment form, on how to improve this post. We’re all in this together, after all, even if we have some differences around methods, and I’m always striving to improve :-) Now, on to the post itself.
This post describes the work of Intentional Insights to promote EA-style effective giving ideas to a broad audience in order to channel people's giving to effective charities. It shares the methods InIn uses, the outcomes of InIn's work, various collaborations with other organizations, InIn's financials, and its plans for the future. Besides our direct work promoting effective giving, we also promote rational thinking and effective decision-making strategies, which helps EAs build their capacity, and has a variety of other robustly positive outcomes for human flourishing. The post makes a case for how by contributing your time and talents, and/or your money, to InIn as an EA meta-charity you can make a bigger difference in the world to advance human flourishing than by contributing to a GiveWell-recommended direct-action charity.
Intentional Insights aims to spread EA-themed effective giving ideas to a broad audience, and channel the giving activities of non-EAs into effective charities endorsed by GiveWell. In other words, by contributing time and money to Intentional Insights, EAs can get the outcome of non-EAs giving to effective charities, multiplying the impact of their support to effective charities manifold. Moreover, you can support InIn with time as well as with money, while GiveWell-endorsed charities are generally best supported with money.
How does InIn promote effective giving? We use modern content marketing strategies and speak to people’s hearts as well as their heads. We distinguish promoting effective giving and individual EA organizations from promoting EA as a movement, to avoid the threat of rapid movement growth, while still leaving hidden hooks that would enable those interested to find the movement. We orient toward being quite transparent about what we are doing, getting feedback from members of the EA community and updating based on that feedback, including acknowledging mistakes and trying to improve going forward.
Specific Examples of Our EA Work
- As a specific example of our work, we published this article on The Huffington Post, which was shared on social media over 1K times. A general rule of thumb is that for every person who shares an article on social media, about 100 people read it thoroughly, and many more skim it. This article is impactful for shifting people’s giving toward effective charities. As you'll see from this Facebook comment on my personal page, it helped convince someone to decide to donate to effective charities. Furthermore, this comment is someone who is the leader of a large secular group in Houston, and he thus has an impact on a number of other people. Since people rarely make actual comments, and far from all are fans of my Facebook page, we can estimate that many more made similar decisions but did not comment about it.
- Another example. Here is a link to the outcome of an Intentional Insights collaboration with The Life You Can Save and the Secular Student Alliance to spread effective giving to secular and skeptic-oriented communities through Giving Games. This article explains the strong impact of Giving Games, and shows how they direct people’s giving to effective charities.
These examples illustrate the kind of work that we do: publishing pieces that promote effective giving directly, and collaborating with other organizations to promote effective giving through their channels. To learn more about the methods, assumptions, and impact of Intentional Insights, check out our Theory of Change and our Annual Report.
In the next year, we are planning to expand our activities in promoting effective giving in five major directions:
- We aim to experiment with new forms of content, such as list-style articles, memes, and short videos. We want to see what types of content works best for promoting effective giving messages for which specific audiences, and build up a knowledge bank on that topic.
- While experimenting, we also plan to test rigorously the impact of our content to see what kind of impact our content has on people’s giving behavior. We want to conduct randomized control studies to see whether people change their giving behavior after engaging with InIn content and InIn-sponsored activities such as the Giving Games for secular and skeptic audiences.
- We want to use our strong connections with US and international secular and skeptic organizations to spread effective giving ideas to these communities. Afterward, we want to spread effective giving to liberal churches such as the Unitarian Universalists, with whom we also have solid connections.
- We plan to expand our collaboration with EA meta-charities, as well as highly effective direct-action charities. We want to find areas where we can add the most value to the movement based on our internal expertise and capacities, and add that value in a way that benefits all parties. We have had a number of conversations with a variety of different organizations and more are scheduled in the next few weeks (The Life You Can Save, Giving What We Can, EA Action, GiveDirectly, Against Malaria Foundation), and have some promising projects in the works. Likewise, by promoting direct-action charities such as GiveDirectly and AMF, we allow these organizations to save money on their marketing. This helps these organizations appear better in the eyes of less well-educated donors who do not understand the value of spending resources on marketing and want all their money to go toward programming.
- We would like to develop a resource bank that would enable EAs around the world to promote effective giving to a broad audience. This resource bank would enable EAs in local groups to learn content marketing strategies quickly, with guides for marketing strategies and other tools for this purpose. It would also hold a bank of direct content and templates that promotes effective giving ideas, such as articles, videos, memes, t-shirts, etc. Local EAs would then take whatever they need and adapt it to their local context – whether translating it to other languages, putting in a hook that ties it to a local event, etc.
Financially, we have just started our fundraising outside of a narrow circle of initial supporters, since we wanted to get our content to a level where it would be publishable in The Huffington Post. Our basic operations budget is $42050, and we are currently in the red, with the co-founders covering about 88% of the basic expenses, which is not sustainable past the next year. We also want funding to get a new website and integrated donor and financial database, and most importantly hire a staff member, since we are an all-volunteer organization, and that is not sustainable in the long run. You can see our funding breakdown and priorities at the bottom of the Annual Report.
To conclude, the reason you would support InIn as an EA meta-charity, over a direct-action charity endorsed by GiveWell, is that by doing so you would highly likely direct many more dollars into effective charities than by contributing to direct-action charities themselves. Likewise, you can support InIn effectively with your time and talents, while direct-action charities would generally benefit most from financial contributions. Of course, as the section on InIn financial needs discusses, it needs some financial contributions as well, so make your own decisions about what kind of impact you want to see in the world through your donations.
If you would like to support this work to promote effective giving to a broad audience, but are not sure yet how you would like to do so, please fill out this supporters form. If you are interested in contributing your time, for example to creating content, providing feedback, or developing the resource bank, please fill out this volunteers form. If you are capable of financial donations and are interested in using your dollars to channel the spending of others into effective giving, please donate. The next ten days are a very high-leverage opportunity to donate, as InIn was awarded a challenge grant – if we get 10 new donors and 10 monthly donors by the end of the year, we will get $2000. So donations from new monthly donors, which double-count, are particularly welcomed.
Thanks again, and I look forward to your thoughts and feedback! You can also PM me on the forum or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Based on Ryan Carey's suggestions, I want to highlight that InIn is a new project, and promoting effective giving ideas, as opposed to EA as a movement, is a new field of endeavor for EAs. So I would be enthusiastic to learn about what reservations folks have. We are quite open to revising the nature of our work if it seems we are headed in a suboptimal direction, and want to learn more from the community about what the community thinks about what works, and proceeding forward in a collaborative truth-seeking spirit about what would most benefit human flourishing.
EDIT: Edited based on Ryan Carey's comments below, and several comments on the .impact Facebook group.