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Leverage the Power of International Women's Day (March 8)

There is a ton of attention on this day every year. 

Many are even interested to DO something positive for women... however, as usual, they don't typically have an easy answer of what TO do... leading them to do nothing / meaningless / counterproductive actions.

Enter Fistula Foundation... featured on TheLifeYouCanSave's exclusive top charity list... looked into by GiveWell as a potential for their even more exclusive list, though NOT making this cut, at least for now ("We think that Fistula Foundation may be in the range of cost-effectiveness of our current top charities. However, this estimate is highly uncertain")... and getting the highest marks from all other third parties that everyone is familiar with.

Fistula Foundation is an easy, pull-at-the-heartstrings, sell. What they do is straightforward: they provide surgeries which CURE women of their incontinence (leaking urine/feces) due to childbirth injuries, caused by a lack of healthcare, (notably, C-sections). These surgeries cost only $598. And Fistula Foundation has provided over 60,000 surgeries since 2009.

Fistula Foundation empowers women "in the worst places on earth to be a woman." And they do so with extreme effectiveness. They also don't simply send in their own surgeons. They empower the healthcare networks already on the ground, to achieve their missions.

FYI here is my personal fundraising page for this year, as a sample, and of course for you to donate to or share, if you felt inclined. I am personally matching donations, as it states. https://www.facebook.com/donate/269554591999582/2376652995831434/

What do you think? 

  1. Is there power to leverage IWD for Fistula Foundation?
  2. Are these types of straightforward, pull-at-the-heartstrings, charities and stories, an ideal "gateway drug" for newbies, into effective giving, and even into EA in general? 

    (Compare Fistula Foundation to GiveWell's 1st listed charity: Malaria Consortium -- which gives chemo drugs to masses of children; and not in order to save any specific one of them, but some small percentage of them overall, in the long run. So many questions come up; my heart-strings are not engaged; and it's a hard sell even for me, a long-time EA... I can't imagine walking up to someone on the street and trying to get them to donate to this. However, I have approached strangers about Fistula Foundation with great success and $$.)




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"Is there power to leverage IWD for Fistula Foundation?" -- yeah, I think that leveraging International Women's day to promote EA-endorsed, women-related charities is an awesome idea.

I think an important first step would be to collect a list of several highly-effective charities that are all on the theme of helping women.  Fistula Foundation is one, Family Empowerment Media is another, perhaps Population Services International is a third.  And I'm sure there are others out there!  Then, with your list of highly-effective women-oriented charities, you could put together some internet posts (to facebook, reddit, this very Forum, etc), containing:

  • A basic EA pitch (the whole concept of maximizing effectiveness by tracking outcomes, and by giving internationally  where a dollar goes a long way) and link to further intro-to-EA resources.
  • The list of charities you identified -- fun to give people multiple options because that gets people thinking about which they like more, and it also makes the post seem more objective/neutral (like Givewell's trusted recommendations) rather than just trying to market a single charity.
  • A blurb on what each charity does, where they operate, etc.

Since International Women's Day is tomorrow, just slapping together a few reddit posts is probably the best we can do this year.  (For more thoughts on this, see this comment of mine on another EA Forum post about putting together a subreddit donation drive for International Women's Day.)  But in future years, we could have a whole The-Life-You-Can-Save-style website devoted to showcasing effective female-empowerment charities.  I am picturing something like Giving Green's EA-inspired recommendations for reducing carbon emissions.

I'm also excited about the broader idea that EA could promote targeted/thematic recommendations like this during other special days:

  • Top climate charities on Earth Day?  I'm sure Giving Green and others are already doing this.
  • Nuclear/AI X-risk causes on Petrov Day (although Petrov Day is a pretty niche holiday), or pandemic prevention donations on the anniversary of the polio vaccine or smallpox eradication?
  • Great-power diplomacy stuff on Armistice/Veteran's Day?
  • Progress Studies and prediction market / institutional-reform / approval-voting people could find plenty of holidays too, I'm sure.  (Maybe the Fourth of July?)  Same goes for the animal welfare wing of effective altruism.

EA already makes a bit of a coordinated marketing push every year on Giving Tuesday: people talk about their personal donations, organizations put out yearly updates, people participate in big charity matching drives, folks talk to their friends and family about the ideas of effective altruism.  I think we could score some nice low-hanging fruit by extending this strategy to International Women's Day and beyond.

Wow. Read through your 2 comments here (and on the other forum post you linked to - where I also just commented). Thank you so much for taking the time to share the insights. 

I especially like the idea of a site dedicated to this. There are a couple pages out there that I can find, namely on the IWD website itself, but nothing worth even linking to, in my humble opinion. Def room for something awesome to come along, and give a couple options for. (Maybe there could even be a section for effective giving within the US or developed countries too, although if it did, this should certainly be secondary and not as highlighted.)

It's not too early for me to consider next year already... and if you (or anyone reading this) is possibly interested in helping a website come together (from site design - to simply being available for a little brainstorm)... let me know here or via DM. 

One semi-simple way for a website to occur, would be to just encourage TLYCS - or some other org - to create such a page themselves... with the info (and site design) they already largely have on hand.

"Are these types of straightforward, pull-at-the-heartstrings, charities and stories, an ideal "gateway drug" for newbies, into effective giving, and even into EA in general? " -- Of course a heartstring-pulling cause is more attractive than other causes, all things equal.  The question is whether this helps people on-ramp into learning about the EA mindset and eventually placing more weight on effectiveness than they did before.

I do think it helps to have some recommended charities that look like a normal kind of charity people have seen before, rather than immediately trying to sell people on crazy-sounding concepts, like "Actually, according to some complicated math, donations to AI alignment groups are 1000x more important than anything you normally associate with the word 'charity'."  Fistula Foundation might be particularly good, like you've mentioned, although Against Malaria Foundation does have the appeal of being able to say "for $5000 you can save a life (!!) on average", and tap into the drama and heroism of "saving a life".  Things like deworming don't even have that, which makes them a little more esoteric.

I also think it helps to present multiple charities and frame yourself as a charity evaluator -- this makes the endorsement seem more legit and it also helps get people into the EA mindset of making comparisons and prioritizing with limited resources.

"I'm also wondering... are there similar thoughts / attempts in regards to leveraging mass attention toward more effective aims?  I saw some attempts at getting BLM / police reform attention toward more-effective causes." -- There's a big difference in my mind between trying to nimbly harness recent news events like BLM, versus putting together a coordinated marketing message to capitalize on individual holidays like International Women's Day or promote EA's message to specific groups.  Leveraging news events can be very powerful, but also difficult, and  can sometimes backfire -- see much nuanced discussion here, for instance.  Leveraging thematic holidays is less powerful, but it seems really easy to do and has basically zero downside, making it a no-brainer.

3. I'm also wondering... are there similar thoughts / attempts in regards to leveraging mass attention toward more effective aims? 

(I saw some attempts at getting BLM / police reform attention toward more-effective causes; but I don't know how much attention these got outside of EA circles? Any other examples?)

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