This is the third in a series of posts about effective giving in 2022, from One for the World and Giving What We Can. You can read part 1 on why we should promote effective giving here, and part 2 on longtermist donation opportunities here. Thanks to Luke Freeman for his help with the draft.

It also follows two previous articles on ‘How we promoted EA at a large tech company’.

Tl;dr

  • One for the World has now conducted ~50 corporate talks on effective giving since October 2020.
  • These have raised nearly $600k in one-off donations to GiveWell charities; and $131k in recurring donations. The expected value of the latter is ~$400k over 5 years.
  • This is still a small dataset but there are some signals about what makes a corporate talk effective at raising donations.
  • There are now several organisations with the materials, skills and experience to deliver effective corporate talks - most notably One for the World, High Impact Professionals, Giving What We Can and the EA and Consulting Network. Jona Glade is also running point on workplace outreach at CEA.
  • We believe that this is a neglected source of donations, both small and major, which can help to diversify EA funding positively; but also potentially a source of talent, power and technical expertise.

Call to action

CTA: Fill out this form if you’d like support in promoting effective giving at your workplace! This can include:

  1. Requesting an expert speaker
  2. Getting trained to deliver effective giving talks yourself
  3. Getting ready-made materials such as presentations, graphics and advertising copy
  4. Getting a checkout page/site set up for your company

Results

~50 talks feels enough to start tentatively forming lessons on what works best. The results of these talks are as follows.

Disclaimers: 

  • Corporate giving platforms are extremely slow to disburse and report, so numbers are often revised. However, these are very unlikely to change significantly, and if they do they are most likely to improve, as we have been sceptical in putting them together. 
  • Money listed here is ‘real’, i.e. it has moved through One for the World’s bank account or been demonstrated with donation receipts. Tracking donations and pledges inspired by Giving What We Can is much harder than tracking those processed by One for the World, so it is likely that we are undercounting pledges and donations not made via One for the World.
  • Recurring and one-off donations include matching from host companies but not from outside sources such as Double Up Drive (so $1200/year from Microsoft is most probably $600 from the donor and $600 from the company).
  • These figures only reflect talks delivered by One for the World or One for World & Giving What We Can (indicated by an asterisk), not other EA Groups/organisations. 
  • Companies are based in a variety of locations - mainly the US, but also the UK, Canada, Australia and in Europe. US talks produce the most money, reflecting historical giving trends.
  • All figures are USD.
Company# of talksRecurring donations (annual value)Average annual run rate per talkOne-off donationsNotes
Bridgewater

2

$0

$0

$73,400

+$28,400 from Double Up Drive
Adobe

1

$6,000

$6,000

$1,338

 
Microsoft

16

$85,788

$5,362

$424,933

Includes $412k from a single donor
Futurice

6

$360

$60

$0

 
Bain

3

$8,700

$2,900

$0

 
BJSS

1

$0

$0

$0

 
Mott Macdonald

1

$1,608

$1,608

$0

 
Plaid

1

$0

$0

$0

 
Miller Hull

1

Some, but not yet reported

$0

$0

 
SimpliSafe

1

$0

$0

$100

 
Blackrock

1

$1,296

$1,296

$0

 
Google

1

$0

$0

$19,834

 
Accenture

4

$9,840

$2,460

$2,750

 
Advanced Sponsorship Insights

1

$0

$0

$1,000

 
Facebook

1

$18,000

$18,000

$42,747

Single recurring donor; includes $20k match. 
Facebook staff organised a series of talks, some given by effective charities themselves, not just by OFTW/GWWC.
Facebook*

1

$3,000

$0

$0

Donations are from a Giving What We Can pledge
Bridgespan*

1

$0

$0

$0

Harder to track donations/pledges inspired by GWWC
BigCommerce*

1

$0

$0

$0

Harder to track donations/pledges inspired by GWWC
Econic*

1

$0

$0

$0

Harder to track donations/pledges inspired by GWWC
Flatiron Health*

1

$0

$0

$38,625

Harder to track donations/pledges inspired by GWWC; includes $25,750  match
Qualcomm*

1

$0

$0

$0

Harder to track donations/pledges inspired by GWWC
Totals

47

$134,592

$2,800

$604,727

 

*Talks delivered jointly by One for the World and Giving What We Can

Lessons and tactical takeaways

  • There was a noticeable shift to one-off giving in 2021. Outreach always emphasises recurring donations and pledging a percentage of income (deck here). However, a mix of context (see next bullet) and donation size seems to have driven this shift (larger donors almost invariably give in ‘lumps’).
  • One-off donations were driven by a small number of companies. Bridgewater’s talks are given around their bonus season; a single massive donor from Microsoft affected their figures, which otherwise skew heavily towards regular giving; Facebook and Flatiron Health led end-of-year donation drives. Bridgewater donors, and the large Microsoft donor, could reasonably be counted as recurring, as they have now given annually.
  • Retention has been excellent - aside from one donor who left a blue chip company for a startup and so stopped giving, there has been ~100% retention (over a timespan of 2-17 months; average donor tenure so far is ~9 months).
  • There have been upsells. Most of these are minor (an increase in line with a salary raise) but some have been more significant ($200/month -> $600/month; $600/month -> $800/month). Going back to the same company to deliver an update on what their donations have achieved played very well.
  • Although it isn’t the purpose of the talk, we have seen some spin-off effects in influencing corporate-level philanthropy. The biggest result from this so far has been a $40k corporate grant, not included above, but there has also been skilled volunteering with EA organisations and we think more opportunities like this will happen organically as we do more outreach.
  • We were surprised that a single talk was enough to influence a high net worth donor. This donor had decided to give 100% of their income away ($400k/year) but, in their own words, had no firm idea of where to give and was not familiar with effective giving/altruism. They subsequently decided to give 100% of their donations to AMF. This is opportunistic but significant, is counterfactual revenue and their expected value is now >$1m.
  • One for the World only processes donations to GiveWell charities. Donations inspired by Giving What We Can are therefore harder to track and so there may be extra donations made via EA Funds or directly to charities outside global health that aren't included above. On its face, however, it seems like joint Giving What We Can/One for the World talks raised fewer tracked dollars/pledges. If this is true, one plausible explanation is that the joint OFTW-GWWC presentation talks about multiple cause areas, prioritisation, various pledge and giving levels etc.. The natural reaction to this could be to think “I need to do more thinking about this!”; whereas One for the World gives people a simple, clean ask that aligns with their prior expectations of giving (i.e. giving to global health charities that help children). If this is correct, this highlights a tradeoff between promoting immediate action and possible but uncertain long term inquiry/fidelity. It’s worth noting that this isn’t a hard and fast rule (Facebook included a talk from and donations to animal welfare charities, for example, and still raised good money) but it seems to make intuitive sense.
  • Relatedly, though, we have now shown that we can return to the same workplaces over time and introduce more/different content. This has taken various forms, from bringing in external speakers (from a range of cause areas and perspectives, often unconnected to giving/pledging) to specifically following up on the impact of giving. It has been easier in some companies than others but also easier at the firms with the biggest ROI. It’s also obviously true that we reach only a tiny fraction of the workforce with any one talk - so we have had success targeting multiple offices/teams/countries sequentially.
  • A key tactical takeaway from One for the World’s talks has been using a follow up survey to gauge interest in donating/pledging. We offer a $10 donation to any charity of the attendees’ choice, with a nudge towards the GiveWell charities (90% of people select these). This not only drives attendance; it critically lets us ‘buy’ their answer to the question ‘would you like to take the One for the World pledge?’, giving us a target list for follow up. This has been critical in upping conversions.
  • Talks in the US giving season (October-December) do better than other talks. Likewise, company context is important - matching campaigns, end of year drives and Microsoft’s Give Month (the gold standard) significantly improve results. Workplaces with committed internal advocates also get far better attendance and results - coordinating with internal EA Groups or just with committed organisers has been a consistent theme with the best opportunities.
  • We think there is a lot of value in using ‘practised speakers’ in workplaces. With 50 reps behind us, we can talk extremely fluently; have encountered even the most bizarre questions before; and have sharpened our ability to be sensitive to workplace dynamics while still making our point. It seems much better to use polished speakers, not to mention ‘credentialled’ third parties, than internal speakers, who might misspeak or be subject to office politics. To this end, the founding of High Impact Professionals, the scaling of EA for Consulting Network and Jona Glade’s work on workplace groups at CEA are extremely positive developments.

Next steps

  • We want to do more of this outreach! Reach out if we can talk, or help you give a talk, at your company!
  • We think this is a neglected area of outreach. These companies (and their employees) have disproportionate amounts of money, power, human resources and technical expertise. It is genuinely surprising to us that outreach to these groups has been so piecemeal up to this point.
  • We think the new orgs and initiatives above are very positive. We will be working closely with these groups to coordinate outreach this year. The future of this outreach may be to house it specifically in its own organisation.
  • We are interested to see how efforts to educate people more about EA in general go. As giving/pledging organisations, we are primarily focussed on effective giving; but we are alert to the risks in this and would like to see other types of engagement (career change, attending EA conferences, attending more EA talks, joining workplace groups etc.).
  • We have a hypothesis that targeting recent graduates may be productive. They are probably more receptive to EA ideas, more likely to change their minds and less set in other ways of giving/working. This also gives us an annually refreshed audience to target each year. We’ll report back on how this goes.

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1 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 5:27 AM

Hi Jack, great post! I appreciate your commitment to keeping the numbers conservative by e.g. only counting money that has actually flowed through your accounts.