The latest video from YouTube’s biggest creator has him teaming up with Give Directly to give $300k in cash to everyone in a remote Ugandan Village. (You can read more about the partnership in the comment below and on the Give Directly website.)

This is going to get tens of millions of views. Please watch the video (👈🏼 most important!), like, comment and share to help boost the signal! And consider donating to the fundraiser.

Giving $300,000 to Rural Villagers
 

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You can read more about how the project came together on our blog. Adding a specific section below that might be of interest: 

Working with the most watched person on Earth will help us reach more people in need

Beast Philanthropy videos are typically seen by 20-40 million people and dubbed into over a dozen languages to improve accessibility. We expect this will help us reach more families in need. Here’s why:

Partnering with content creators means large, new audiences learn about direct cash

You may support direct cash giving, but most people still do not. GiveDirectly recently ran a survey of potential donors, and found only 13% of respondents had heard of us. Direct cash was their least favored way to help people in extreme poverty. 

Clearly more people need to learn about the impact of our work. While we’re good at our main job of delivering cash to the most vulnerable families in the world, we’re not as good at reaching large audiences from our own channels and platforms –– few nonprofits are. Press and content creators are very good at it. 

Beast Philanthropy’s video dispels common concerns about direct cash 

In that same survey, most respondents said giving $1,000 to families in extreme poverty was not a good idea. Their most common concerns were that recipients…

  1. may spend the money unwisely
  2. need something else (training, education, resources)
  3. won’t be able to make lasting improvements 

We approached Beast Philanthropy because they excel at engaging audiences while showcasing the finer points of a charity. Their GiveDirectly video tackled the most common concerns about cash, highlights the dignity of giving choice, and documents the broader economic benefits – all in just 12 minutes.

Some of their viewers will start giving directly, helping reach more people living in extreme poverty with life-changing cash transfers.

I’d guess that the vast majority of people who donate to give directly (including substantial public sums) would not describe themselves as EA and by their lights aren’t focussed on “doing the most good with impartiality and scope sensitivity in mind” so I wouldn’t describe them as an EA on this donation alone, if they talk about EA explicitly in the video it would be great to add that context above.

Obviously not “being an EA” does not diminish this achievement, I’m excited when anyone donates to help the poor in a cost-effective manner independent of their community affiliation and even more excited when it’s such a large amount of money!

Thanks for posting this here, it’s very exciting and I’m looking forward to watching the video!

Thanks for sharing. Your post title is very misleading though. I wouldn't be surprised if Mr Beast has never even heard of EA. I'm not against clickbaity titles which are more or less accurate but exaggerated, but "Mr Beast is now officially an EA!" seems simply incorrect. Not a huge deal, but I was quite excited when I clicked on this post only to be left a bit disappointed. May be worth clarifying in the text that Mr Beast hasn't actually signalled agreement with EA principles.

I spoke with Jimmy 2 years ago and talked with him about EA, which he had already heard of through a friend. He’s definitely aware of it. Whether or not he considers himself an EA is another story, but he is engaging with an effective philanthropy, and doing a lot of good in the world not only through his direct work but also driving awareness via his massive platform. That looks effective from my perspective.

That's great of course. I still wouldn't have chosen your title. But thank you for spreading the word to those who have influence!

I think watching the video to boost signal is an ineffective use of time, so I don't like that this post tells people to watch the video to boost engagement. There are millions of viewers so the marginal view has very little influence on the algorithm and costs minutes of time.

I am fine with people watching the video out of interest, but not with telling them that it is something they should do from an altruistic perspective with the only justification being to boost the signal.

I appreciate your perspective Alan and trust that everyone reading this has the agency to determine for themselves what is the best use of their time. I found watching the video gave me a better understanding of the challenges and benefits of unconditional cash transfers. 

I’ve updated the title, but to those of you who had a problem with me asserting that engaging publicly with Give Directly qualifies someone as an EA, what criteria do you think is required for someone/something to be in EA? There’s no standards certification body, so in my estimation it comes down to “the eye of the beholder”. But curious what others think.

For example, I heavily support Vegan Outreach because their goal is to get people to go vegan as efficiently as possible. Yet they aren’t on any EA animal welfare lists, they’re not interested in going to the conferences or getting more involved in the community. They want to focus on vegan conversations. And I respect that.

Giving What We Can also said as much in their latest blog post on the pledge, noting that pledgers get to decide what they consider is effective. https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/en/blog/5-things-you-ve-got-wrong-about-the-giving-what-we-can-pledge

Self identification seems like an obvious condition. If you were sharing news that Mr Beast was calling himself an EA, none of these comments would apply.

I have seen popular uses of the term "effective altruist" in a way that doesn't require self-identification. In this example Peter Singer refers to Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and Warren Buffet as the most effective altruists in history.
 

"these people have been the most effective altruists in history" is about them being effective and altruistic, not members of a community called Effective Altruism.

Probably worth distinguishing the claim that someone "is an EA" and "is an altruist who is effective". I think of the acronym EA as referring to our community in particular, not just the practice of evidence-based philanthropy broadly. Someone can be an effective altruist in the ordinary sense of those words, without being an Effective Altruist in the member-of-the-community sense.

So capitalization matters. I can get behind that 😊

Self identification makes most sense to me. 

For example "at the Leaders Forum 2019, around half of the participants (including key figures in EA) said that they don’t self-identify as "effective altruists". "

To me that actually seems like an argument against self-identification as a criteria. 

What's your reasoning?

If you're attending the Leaders Forum or are a 'key figure in EA', you're probably an EA, even if you don't admit it to yourself.

I think people can be heavily involved in something without having to take the identity of that thing. For example, if someone worked 15 years at Google, they wouldn't have to describe themselves as a 'googler' even if the P&C team calls everyone a googler with a shared Google identity.

I think I disagree with this perspective because, to me, the doing is the identity in a certain importance sense.

Like I think everyone GWWC Pledger should reasonably be expected to be identified as an EA, even if they don't claim the self identity. If MacAskill or Moskovitiz's behaviour changed 0% apart from they stopped self-identifying as an EA, I still think it'd make sense to consider them EAs.

What really annoys me with the 'EA = Specific EA Community' is takes like this or this - the ideas part of EA is what matters. If CEA and OpenPhil disbanded I'd still be donating to effective charities because of the ideas involved, and the 'self-identification/specific community lineage' explanation cannot really explain this imho.

(p.s. not trying to go in too hard on you David, I was torn about whether to respond to this thread or @Karthik Tadepalli's above. Perhaps we should meet and have a chat about it sometime if you think that's productive at all?)

I think that you are right as far as it coming down to “the eye of the beholder”.

I had a related conversation about a year ago, and the best I could come up with was a sort of two by two matrix, with behavior and self-proclaimed identity. I find that framework useful in the context of MRBeast's video, as I find my intuition leaning toward considering him aligned with some EA ideas, or adjacent to EA, but since he hasn't (to my knowledge) claimed himself as an EA, I would hesitate to say that he is an EA.

Can you put a note in the post explaining what the old title was, and that you changed it? As it stands I imagine a lot of people coming to the comments confused about what everyone is talking about.

I enjoyed the video. I know another commenter argued watching wasn't a good use of time. I would argue it could be a good use of time, as a way to guard against EA burnout. I think as EAs, we have a tendency to spend all our time doing the emotional equivalent of starting at numbers on a spreadsheet. But every so often, it's helpful to get a visceral reminder of how easy and cheap it is to bring people joy through effective giving.

On a separate note, the other day I watched this heartbreaking video about Burundi, the world's poorest country. Is there any particular reason GiveDirectly isn't operating there? I was thinking maybe it was a lack of mobile money infrastructure.

I wonder if Burundi would be a good fit for a MrBeast giveaway of some kind? I assume if MrBeast just keeps doing cash giveaway videos, they could get boring. But if the world's poorest country also happens to be a place where cash giveaways aren't possible, that would be a nice coincidence of wants.

Perhaps instead of cash, MrBeast could offer "your choice out of the following X items", to preserve the spirit of recipient-directed giving, collect interesting data, and make for an interesting Youtube video.

In addition to the title being somewhat misleading, I think it reinforces a very "either in or out" narrative re effective altruism. Very good object-level news, though!

Edit: The title was updated, and I have no issue. : )

I have mixed feelings about this. The consequentialist part of me thinks that this great. The virtue ethicist part of me flinches away from this. I am happy to see people who have unmet desires (medical care, improved housing, education, food, etc.) getting access to money which allows them to meet those desires. The video also feels very manipulative.

There is something about poverty porn. The heartfelt music while we are being shown video clips of a child getting a single meal per day, the slow motion video of people smiling and laughing with inspirational music and narration about the good things GiveDirectly will do, a clip of a group of children performing a song... I know that there has been a lot written about exploitation and stereotypes when it comes to development and aid. And I can't exactly claim that there is something wrong about using standard video editing techniques or selecting a soundtrack that sparks the emotional reaction you want in your audience. I also know that plenty of kids start performing what they think you expect as soon as they see that they are being recorded, and this happens in tourism situations (giving the tourists what they want, in a sense).

The knife sharpening seemed like pretty standard performative YouTube behavior. A couple of outsiders goofing around and being the center of attention, a large crowd of people standing around watching, a friendly and low-stakes rivalry, affectations, etc. I'm aware that "competitions" like this are common for these kinds of videos. And maybe a video lacking that kind of competition would be shared less, and spread the message less.

If this generates lots of donations that otherwise wouldn't have happened, if this reduces the suffering in the world, then who am I to criticize or whine or complain about it?

EDIT: Of course, a perfectly appropriate response would be "your approval is not the criteria by which I measure worth, Joseph." I do understand that in a certain sense it is kind of silly for random internet strangers to share to what extent they approve or disapprove of other people's actions. Please interpret all of this as musings and explorations rather than as harsh  and confident judgements.

First and foremost Jimmy wants to create a compelling story that gets people to watch. Maybe it all could be done a bit less dramatically, but overall I think he does a good job of representing people as just needing some resources and opportunities to build a better life for themselves.

At the end of the day, is the world better off for having this video in it and all the good done in its production? Yes, I think it’s a net positive.

At the end of the day, is the world better off for having this video in it and all the good done in its production? Yes, I think it’s a net positive.

Perhaps this is obvious, but we can simultaneously believe that having this video is better than not having it while also disliking some aspects of it and wishing that we could have had something better still. Joseph is quite clear that his feelings are mixed, not unambiguously negative.

Neither Joseph nor I were taking a black-or-white view of things. My "is the world better" thought experiment is merely a first-order approximation of a complex issue. I apologize if that was not clear.

Perhaps the virtue ethicist part of you may feel partly assuaged by GiveDirectly's blog post about the project? I'm thinking in particular of these sections (warning - long quotes):

 GiveDirectly confirmed recipients and communities want to be featured, as always:  

  • For all media projects, we first consult with village leadership to confirm their interest and consent for participating. For this video, we also met with local and national government officials to confirm if they were supportive of such a large spotlight. 
  • Journalists and content creators always follow this guidance when visiting GiveDirectly programs. Profiled recipients first give informed consent before sharing their story. You can read our consent forms here→

Beast Philanthropy centered the local culture:

  • They regularly solicited input from our local staff about whether approaches and portrayals would be received well by the community and had us give notes on the video edit. 
  • They focused on English-speakers so recipients could share more of their story in their own voice. 
  • They worked to capture the cultural specificity of the community, forgoing stock music for natural sounds→

After filming, GiveDirectly’s safeguarding team interviewed 9 of the filmed recipients. You can read their feedback here – some highlights:

Recipients enjoyed being on camera.

  • “The way they came and interacted with me and my family, that’s what I liked most. I felt in place and free with them.”
  • “I was very happy and I welcomed them. I showed them my land agreement together with the land, iron sheets (for my new roof) and some household materials.” 

Their motivations for participating varied.

  • “I did accept to participate because of the challenges and poverty that my community members are facing. I needed to represent their views.”
  • “I needed to tell how happy I felt and also to show the rest of the community members that when given something small or large you can always use it in a way that can help raise your standard of living.”

Two gave us actionable feedback for how we can improve next time.

  • “I was relaxed and very happy, though my husband got anxious about the number of GiveDirectly staff who visited us.”
  • “I felt good about it, though I feel I should also be shown the photos and videos to watch.”

Later this month, we’ll screen the video for the featured community dubbed into Nga’Karimojong (their language), followed by a focus group discussion, then update this blog with their thoughts on the final video.

This was to me a surprising amount of beneficiary thoughtfulness for a MrBeast video (admittedly I don't watch his content often), albeit in line with my expectations for GiveDirectly.

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