[ Question ]

Where are you donating in 2020 and why?

by MichaelA1 min read23rd Nov 202064 comments

71

Donation WriteupPublic givingCommunity
Frontpage

This post is intended as an open thread for anyone to share where you donated or plan to donate in 2020, and why. This is inspired by weeatquince’s post last year, and by Claire Zabel’s suggestion that people talk about donations earlier and more

I encourage you to share regardless of how small or large a donation you’re making! (And you’re welcome to not share the dollar amount if you don’t want to.)

You can share as much or as little detail as you want (anything from 1 sentence simply describing where you’re giving, to multiple pages explaining your decision process and key considerations).

And if you have thoughts or feedback on someone else’s donation plans, I’d encourage you to share that in a reply to their “answer”, unless the person indicated they don’t want that. (But remember to be respectful and kind while doing this! See also supportive scepticism.)

Why commenting on this post might be useful:

  • You might get useful feedback on your donation plan
  • Readers might form better donation plans by learning about donation options you're considering, seeing your reasoning, etc.
  • Commenting or reading might help you/other people become or stay inspired to give (and to give effectively)

And I think now is a good time for this, given that Giving Tuesday is coming up on Dec 1, Giving What We Can are about to kick off their Pledge Drive and Effective Giving Advocacy Challenge, etc.

New Answer
Ask Related Question
New Comment

22 Answers

[This comment is partly an update of my April 2020 post about my donation plans.]

Where I’m giving: This year, I plan to give 10% of my income (as per my Giving What We Can Pledge), and “invest to give” a larger portion. 

I gave ~2% of my income to CEEALAR (formerly known as the EA Hotel). I currently plan to give another ~4% to GCRI and ~4% to ALLFED.

I’m open to feedback on these plans :)

Why mostly investing to give + giving 10%? 

Ultimately, I plan to give away a very high proportion of the income I earned over my lifetime. But I find it very plausible (~30-80% likely) that marginal EA dollars would do more good if invested and given later (with interest) than if invested now. And “investing to give” arguably maintains more option value than “giving now”, which is relevant because I expect there’ll be additional useful work on the “giving now vs later” question over the coming year, which can inform my decision then. 

But this is a complicated matter; see this post, this comment, and this post for more details and caveats.

But I currently still plan to give 10% this year anyway. This is partly just because I want to, and partly for secondary benefits - e.g., maybe many EAs “putting their money where their mouth is” helps with movement-building and with EA’s external reputation. (That said, “investing to give” via a donor-advised fund rather than regular investments may also capture those secondary benefits.)

Why CEEALAR (aka the EA Hotel)?

When I decided in April to give to CEEALAR, I had three different types of rationale.

First, I spent a month at CEEALAR in Jan/Feb. I was a “grantee”, so I didn’t have to pay for my stay. But I was able to pay, and it seems like probably a good norm for those who stay at CEEALAR and are able to pay to do so. And I enjoyed my time there, and it was useful to be able to stay there (in order to have my first month of work for a previous employer be in-person).

Second, my understanding was that CEEALAR had a fairly limited runway, such that, if they’d received little donations for something like 3-12 months, they might have had to make hard-to-reverse decisions that’d lastingly damage its ability to have an impact in future. I thought it was plausible that COVID could cause this. (I haven’t checked since then whether that seems to have been an accurate assessment and how much runway they now have.)

Third, I think the marginal impact of donations to CEEALAR in general is plausibly fairly high. This is mostly based on the sorts of arguments that have been discussed in the links given here; I don’t think I have much in the way of separate knowledge or insights to add, and I’m fairly uncertain about this (as I am about most important things!).

Why GCRI? 

See also Summary of 2020-2021 GCRI Accomplishments, Plans, and Fundraising

Some potential arguments for giving to GCRI:

  • I think I’ve been impressed/very impressed with all of the work I’ve seen from Seth Baum (usually with coauthors).
  • It also seems like they produce a lot of output. And I have no particular reason to believe the portions I haven’t read will be of notably lower quality than what I have read.
  • I seem to see Baum’s name a lot in acknowledgements on other good work.
  • GCRI / Baum seem to do some work that helps build the longtermist research talent pipeline. For example, they ran a Advising and Collaboration Program in 2019. And a friend of mine reports having received a lot of helpful career advice and connections over the years from Baum (unrelated to that program).

Some potential arguments against giving to GCRI:

  • I’m not really sure what, specifically, they’d do with more funding. And maybe they’re fairly well funded already?
    • I haven’t actually looked into their current runway or what they plan to do with more money.

Why ALLFED?

See also ALLFED 2020 Highlights

Some potential arguments for giving to ALLFED:

  • It does seem like something like ALLFED should exist, and it seems quite surprising and strange that there had previously been so little other similar work. It seems like their niche really was very neglected, and I can’t see good reasons for that neglect.
    • It also seems that there's substantial neglect even of the broader category of work ALLFED fits into, with that category roughly being “work to make it less likely that a 'disaster' would turn into a civilizational collapse or GCR, or to improve our odds of recovery”
    • That said, earlier this year, Open Phil granted $3,064,660 to a non-ALLFED research project on emergency food resilience, and wrote “Our interest in emergency foods first came from encountering the work of David Denkenberger and his colleagues at the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters” (source).
      • So arguably the neglectedness has now decreased.
      • But arguably that also suggests ALLFED’s work may have indirectly helped build the field.
  • ALLFED seem to have a lot of ideas for concrete activities they could do with more funding (see here)
    • That said, at first glance, some of these proposed activities strike me as perhaps less promising from a longtermist perspective than other work ALLFED has previously done (see also my comment here)
  • They seem strangely underfunded. E.g., I don’t believe the EA Long-Term Future Fund or Open Philanthropy have funded them, and SFF appears to have given them only 10,000USD. Coupled with the above, this suggests marginal donations may be quite valuable?
  • I’ve generally been impressed or happy with what I’ve seen of ALLFED / Dave Denkenberger’s work or reasoning (though I haven’t examined it in great detail). It also seems like they manage to get much of their work through peer-review. And at least according to ALLFED’s own post, they seem to have achieved various other successes this year. This all seems to suggest additional work from them may tend to be useful.
  • They run a large volunteer program, which seems to involve conscious efforts to benefit the volunteers and set them up for further impact later. I have a positive impression of this program (based on this post, talking to people involved in running it, and talking to a friend who’s in it), and think it might help improve the longtermist/existential risk research talent pipeline.
  • Their board of advisors includes people whose work/reasoning has often seemed good to me.
  • Their cost-effectiveness estimates seem remarkably promising (see here and here).
    • But it does seem quite hard to believe that the cost-effectiveness is really that good. And many of the quantities are based on a survey of GCR researchers, with somewhat unclear methodology (e.g., how were the researchers chosen?)
    • I also haven’t analysed the models very closely
    • But, other than perhaps the reliance on that survey, I can’t obviously see major flaws, and haven’t seen comments that seem to convincingly point out major flaws. So maybe the estimates are in the right ballpark?

Some potential arguments against giving to ALLFED:

  • Their work seems less useful in relation to non-extinction existential risks (e.g., suffering risks) than some other existential risk work (e.g., many AI alignment efforts).
  • As noted above, some of their work or proposed work strikes me as not especially relevant to long-term trajectories of civilization (even if potentially very useful for humans in the near-term).
  • Perhaps them seemingly not having been funded by the EA Long-Term Future Fund, Open Phil, and various other funders is evidence that there's some reason not to support them, which I just haven't recognised?
    • I’d be interested to learn (a) whether ALLFED has reached out to the LTF and Open Phil, or been reached out to by them, and (b) if so, why ALLFED wasn’t funded by them (if indeed they haven't been). But I'd also understand if that sort of info wouldn’t be made public.
    • I’d be interested in hearing from people in general who have actively decided not to fund ALLFED, and why they made that decision.

What might I do otherwise/next year?

I think it’s pretty plausible that I should do one of the following things instead of my current plan:

  • Increase or decrease how much I “invest to give” relative to how much I give this year
  • Invest via a donor-advised fund rather than a regular index fund
  • Give to the EA Long-Term Future Fund or to a donor lottery rather than directly to specific charities
  • Give to a different specific charity

Note: I haven’t mentioned organisations which I work for or previously worked for, but you shouldn't interpret that as a signal of my opinions about them. I think that there should probably be a weak norm against donating to one’s employers - even if they seem like they could use marginal dollars well - for the reasons outlined here (e.g., donating to one's employer could introduce biases and conflicts of interest).

Update: I ended up giving ~5% of my income from this year to GCRI, ~2.5% to ALLFED, ~2% to CEELAR, and small amounts to some other places. 

Part of why I gave more to GCRI was simply that I offered donation swaps for my giving to both GCRI and ALLFED (since I'm in Australia), and the GCRI offer got a match first, and for the full amount. 

Here are two additional potential reasons for giving to ALLFED, which didn't seem important enough to include in my already-long parent comment:

  • Funding ALLFED to complete more of its proposed activities seems likely to provide substantial value of information regarding ALLFED, alternative foods, and the GCRs ALLFED focuses on.
    • But maybe this benefit is reduced now that Open Phil have made the above-mentioned grant.
  • ALLFED/Denkenberger appear thoughtful and open to counterarguments and feedback.
    • E.g., Denkenberger’s statement here.

And two additional potential ... (read more)

5Denkenberger5moThanks, MichaelA! On neglectedness, it is true that $3 million is very large in this space. However, the Open Phil funded group decided to propose to work on alternative foods that they already had expertise in. This includes cellulosic sugar, duckweed, forest products including inner bark, mushrooms, and sprouts. With the exception of cellulosic sugar, these alternative foods are higher cost than the ones that ALLFED is prioritizing. Low cost is important for feeding nearly everyone and maintaining stability of civilization. Therefore, we don't believe that the highest priority sun-blocking solutions (cellulosic sugar, methane single cell protein, hydrogen single cell protein, cold tolerant crops, greenhouses, seaweed, and leaf protein concentrate) are significantly less neglected now. Furthermore, the Open Phil funded project is generally not working on interventions for losing electricity/industry, so that remains highly neglected.
3MichaelA5moThat's useful info, and sounds to me like a fair point. Thanks :) But then this strikes me as tying back into the idea that "Perhaps [ALLFED] seemingly not having been funded by the EA Long-Term Future Fund, Open Phil, and various other funders is evidence that there's some reason not to support them, which I just haven't recognised?" Here that question can take a more concrete form: If Open Phil chose to fund a group that'd work on alternative foods that ALLFED thinks will be less promising than the alternative foods ALLFED focuses on, but didn't choose to fund ALLFED (at least so far), does that mean: 1. Open Phil are making a mistake? 2. ALLFED are wrong about which foods are most promising? * Perhaps because they're wrong about the relative costs, or because there are other considerations which outweigh the cost consideration? 3. ALLFED are right about which foods are most promising, but there's some other overriding reason why the other team was a better donation opportunity? * E.g., perhaps at the present margin, what's most needed is more academic credibility and that team could get it better than ALLFED could? 4. There's some alternative explanation such that Open Phil's decisions are sound but also ALLFED is a good donation opportunity? * E.g., perhaps there's some reason why Open Phil in particular shouldn't fund ALLFED at this stage, even if it thought ALLFED was a good opportunity for other donors? I don't really know how likely each of those possible implications are (and thus I don't have strong reason to believe 2 or 3 are the most likely implications). So this is just a confusing thing and a potential argument against donating to ALLFED, rather than a clearly decisive argument. I'd be interested in your (or other people's) thoughts on this - but would also understand if this is inappropriate to discuss publicly. (Btw, I wouldn't want readers to interp

Thanks for posting this, Michael!

I'll be giving most of my donations ($25,000+) to GiveWell this year, with a smattering going to other global health charities (~$5000 split between AMF, GiveDirectly, Development Media International, and a few others). This amounts to roughly 22% of my income.

This plan isn't meant to be optimized for direct impact. Because I only give a modest amount, I expect most of my impact to come from influencing others, so I try to optimize for "giving in a way that I'm excited to share". 

Specifically, almost all of this year's giving comes from my success in tournament-level Magic: the Gathering, as well as revenues from streaming and exhibition events that followed from those tournaments. I publicized my choice to donate half of my tournament/streaming revenue, and I assumed that this would be most motivating/inspiring if I gave to charities with clear paths to impact which my viewers could easily understand. 

(Of course, I also believe that these charities are excellent, and I gave them heavy support before I ever became a streamer.)

So far, I've had modest success in building leverage through public donations. Someone claims to have matched my GiveWell donation (I haven't verified this myself, but James Snowden did thank them, which is something), and one EAGxAsia-Pacific attendee told me they discovered EA at least in part because they saw me discuss it on Magic streams.

I also give $100/month to the EA Infrastructure Fund, partly because I think meta work is the highest-leverage way to donate and partly so I can have the direct experience of being an EA Funds donor. Because I work for CEA, I'd like to "eat my own dog food" (use the products I work on) in a few different ways.

I'd be curious to hear why you think that these charities are excellent; eg I'd be curious for your reply to the arguments here.

I respect cluelessness arguments enough that I've removed "strongly" from "strongly believe" in my response; I was just in an enthusiastic mood.

My giving to charities focused on short-term impact (and GiveWell in particular) is motivated by a few things:

  1. I believe that my work currently generates much more value for CEA than the amount I donate to other charities, which means that almost all of my impact is likely of a meta/longtermist variety. But I am morally uncertain, and place enough credence on moral theories emphasizing short-term value that I want at least a fraction of my work to impact people who are alive today.
    1. Around the time I joined CEA, I had been rapidly becoming more focused on the long term; had I taken some other non-EA job, I think that all or almost all of my donations would be going to meta causes as a way of getting long-term leverage. Instead, I get to hedge a bit with my donations.
  2. Personal/emotional factors. I sleep a bit better at night knowing that I've used my unusually lucky circumstances to provide something good for people who have been unusually unlucky. (In theory, I should also sleep worse because I've deprived longtermist projects of funding, but t
... (read more)
6Aaron Gertler5moAs for replying more directly to the arguments you linked: my views combine a bit of Khorton [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ajZ8AxhEtny7Hhbv7/if-you-value-future-people-why-do-you-consider-near-term?commentId=ZiZ2W8kLj3sFAXEgA] , a bit of both Aidan [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ajZ8AxhEtny7Hhbv7/if-you-value-future-people-why-do-you-consider-near-term?commentId=6dhxCxXgfhEYfPyef] responses [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ajZ8AxhEtny7Hhbv7/if-you-value-future-people-why-do-you-consider-near-term?commentId=dKAusaZxxrtfkgCvp] ... ...and also, a lot of credence in most of those arguments. That's why I work a meta job, spend some of my free time on meta projects, and advise people toward meta giving when I can -- including the foundation I work with, which recently made its first meta grant after decades of exclusively near-term giving. (By the way, this was a good question! I didn't even hint at this stuff in my original answer, and I'm glad for the chance to clarify my beliefs.)

So far, I've had modest success in building leverage through public donations ...

That's really cool!

I assumed that this would be most motivating/inspiring if I gave to charities with clear paths to impact which my viewers could easily understand. 

I share that impression, but also feel pretty uncertain about it, in particular if one actually thinks a cause area other than global health & dev is more pressing. In that case, it might be that public donations and framings focused on those other cause areas - or with less focus on any one cause area - ... (read more)

9Aaron Gertler5moWhen I discuss EA in public, I try to focus more on general principles ("some charities are better than others", "it's important to think about all the ways you could help") than specifically advocating for global dev work, though the latter does happen too. And if someone sends me a private question about giving (which happens a lot now that I've made a big deal about it), I give similarly broad advice, and will often refer people to e.g. 80K's Key Ideas page. However, I've found over the course of the year that people seem not to care as much about the specific work of the charities I support as about the idea of doing something altruistic at all. In 2021, my public advocacy is likely to lean more meta/longtermist, though I'm not sure about the specifics.

I plan to give 10% of my income (as per my Giving What We Can Pledge). I'd previously gotten into a rather weird Feb donation cycle so I'm looking to shift this year back to December. My primary cause area is global poverty and development.

I expect the majority (~75%) of my donation to be to a mixture the Givewell Maximum impact fund or the EA Funds Global Health and Development Fund. I've found the EA funds process to be somewhat lacking in transparency but generally I have been pleased with the donations made. I'd consider donations to the Founders Pledge Health and Development fund which appears a promising new entrant in this area however there does not appear to be a tax efficient (gift aidable) way to donate to this fund at present from the UK. I'm undecided on the split between these two so at the moment it will probably be 50/50.   
 

For the remainder of my donation I intend to support promising smaller EA Charities. In the past I have donated to the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund but I'm less convinced that this is a good use of funds and more concerned than in the past that my donations shape towards those aspects of EA I want to encourage and away from those aspects I don't align with. I intend to donate to Charity Entrepreneurship which I have been impressed by as an incubator and I intend to investigate the  Global Health charities incubated by Charity Entrepreneurship and do some additional research in December to look at this area. (At least some of my donation will go to the Lead Exposure Elimination project). 

In addition I plan to make nominal donations to all Givewell's Top Charities and standout charities (as well as a number of non-EA charities) directly so that I am registered on their supporter databases. One downside about giving through EA funds is that you are somewhat disconnected from the charities themselves and I'd like to be "on their radar" and getting email updates about their work.  

Side note:

I'd previously gotten into a rather weird Feb donation cycle so I'm looking to shift this year back to December.

You might consider keeping with your February donation cycle. I've heard from some charities that they don't like how a disproportionate amount of their funding comes from December donations, because it makes budget planning much harder.

4MichaelStJules5moI'm not sure how much this matters if you're giving to funds, depending on their granting schedules.
2AlasdairGives5moI’ve vaguely thought about this but I’m not a significant enough donor that I’m going to register in people’s calculations, and if I’m donating primarily through third party funds then I’m already quite disconnected. (I.e my money isn't arriving at the charity in December/Feb in any case). I think I prefer the "end of the year" feeling and communal discussions like this to improve my donation habits.
1JoshuaFox4moTo me, an automated monthly payment from your credit card or bank order makes sense. What are the arguments for an annual donation?
2MichaelDickens4moMonthly is fine, it's probably better for charities. I personally donate annually because it's a lot simpler. I donate appreciated stock, and transferring stock is a substantial amount of work.

I continued my regular contribution to MIRI. Their approach to openness does make me wonder if they are being effective, but their regular updates, publications on some of their research, and support from people who are in the know suggests that they continue to do a good job. 

I also give to a program for autistic youth. Less effective, no doubt, but fuzzies are worth something too.

Apologies in advance if this response shouldn't be here as I'm giving a slightly different type of answer.

I was feeling slightly reluctant to admit this, but I am not currently donating money and am instead saving/investing as much as I can, mainly because I am still highly uncertain about where to give. 

Ever since first learning about EA my favoured cause area has gone from global health, to ending factory farming, to being quite unsure as I started to take long-termism more seriously. As it stands there are still a number of topics I want to (continue to) mull over including longtermism and its different types, cluelessness, suffering-focused ethics, and wild animal welfare to name a few. I am also uncertain if I want to give to an EA Fund, to organisations directly, or even to a long-term investment fund. Basically I'm pretty clueless!

If I had to give some money right now, I would probably give to the Global Priorities Institute because I have been very impressed with their work so far and I think further work has the potential to alter my views and those of the EA community at large.

I have taken the Giving What We Can pledge and fully intend to give a large chunk of my money over the course of my life, but I just feel I need to figure some things out before I start giving again.

I think that's a reasonable position - the arguments for investing to give seem pretty strong to me - and that it makes sense to share it here :)

Perhaps the title should really be interpreted as "What are you doing with your altruistic budget in 2020 and why?" Some of those actions might not be strictly "donations" - e.g. giving to support a specific person to have an impact (without them being a registered charity), or investing to give later.

I think if I was investing to give with my GWWC 10%, I'd probably do so via a donor-advised fund, as that feels a bit more in-keeping with the pledge to me (as well as a bit more safe from value-drift). But that's just my tentative view - I don't see anything about this on GWWC's FAQ, from a quick skim.

2jackmalde5moThat's a very fair point about value drift. I still need to look into DAFs a bit more. The only reservation I currently have is that, to my knowledge, you can only give to charities from a DAF, and there are a lot of great giving opportunities that aren't charities (GPI being one example). As for being in-keeping with the GWWC pledge - I never interpreted the pledge as meaning you're supposed to give at least 10% on a constant basis, but instead at least 10% over the course of your life. But I do accept the former strategy counters against value drift. I'm hoping to get back into frequent giving at some point in the near future! EDIT: I'm wrong. The pledge FAQs says "The spirit of the Pledge is to donate on an ongoing basis, rather than letting “donation debt” build up over many years." I can understand why they say this from a value drift perspective but as MichaelA says they don't seem to address how best to "invest to give".
2MichaelA5moIf I recall correctly, in a Facebook thread in the GWWC group, Julia Wise indicated that she thought giving to a DAF would be in-keeping with the spirit of the Pledge, but (maybe) that just investing regularly with the intention of giving later wouldn't be. But I may be misremembering, and I don't know if this was codified somewhere, so maybe I/you/someone should reach out to Luke Freeman (who now runs GWWC) or start a public discussion about this.
5lukefreeman5moGiving to a DAF is definitely within the spirit of the pledge and many members do this. We'll be updating the big long FAQ page soon [https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/about-us/frequently-asked-questions/] but in the meantime this is one of the FAQs on the Pledge page [https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/pledge/#am-i-required-to-donate-regularly].

This is a totally reasonable answer. 

"Where are you donating in 2020?" = Nowhere

"And why?" = Because you're not sure about some relevant issues and are instead saving money to donate later

If only people who were donating answered this question, readers would get a skewed view of the community // how many people are saving to give later. I'm glad that isn't happening!

I'm being strategic in 2020 and shifting much of my giving for it into 2021 because I expect a windfall, but here's where I chose to give this year:

  • AI Safety Support
    • I think the work Linda (and now JJ) are doing is great and is woefully underfunded. I would give them more sooner but I have to shift that into 2021. They've had some trouble getting funding from more established sources for reasons I don't endorse but don't want to go into here, and I think giving to them now is especially high leverage to help AISS bootstrap.
    • I'll be giving $5k soon and plan to donate more once the funds to do so are unlocked.
    • Read Linda's post about AISS for more details.
  • MIRI
    • MIRI keeps doing great work on AI safety, and I've been especially impressed with Scott and Abram in the last couple years. I've cut back on some of my funding to MIRI because I view them as less neglected now relative to other things I could fund, but I continue to support them via Amazon Smile.
  • Wikipedia
    • This feels a little bit like paying for utilities I use, but I get a lot of value out of Wikipedia and think everyone who can should donate $5 or $10 to them. It also seems generally useful for maintaining and improving a source of facts in a world that increasingly uncertain about what facts even are.
  • Alcor
    • I have a cryonics contract with Alcor, and I pay annual dues to them. Most of this is counted as charitable giving.
  • Bay Zen Center
    • This isn't really EA giving, but it is charitable giving to a religious organization (full disclosure, I'm on the board of the Center). They get about 2% of my income. Listed for completeness.
  • Long Term Future Fund
    • LTF is generally aligned with my giving priorities and will get my marginal additional funding I don't have a better idea about how to allocate.

Long term my objective is to donate 30-50% of my income (limited by tax incentives and marginal value of money until I resolve some large outstanding expenses), but today it's closer to 5%.

I have a cryonics contract with Alcor, and I pay annual dues to them. Most of this is counted as charitable giving.

Can you say a little bit more about this? I tend not to think of cryonics as charitable.

1meerpirat5moHaven't read into it, but this LessWrong essay contest [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Q7PFyobNPwqBsma9g/effective-altruism-and-cryonics-contest-results] was about the relationship between EA and cryonics. I also have the gut feeling that I'd not view a cryonics contract for myself as following my altruistic ideal for helping others, as it would have strong benefits for myself. Maybe one might want to tell Alcor to randomly choose a new customer and pay the contract for them. If I wouldn't be so excited about cryonics anymore, then probably my excitement came from something else than altruistic impact.

Congrats on your giving! I would maybe add a note of caution if you were anticipating deducting fees to Alcor on your taxes. Even though they're a c3, they're providing a service to you. An analogy would be deducting fees for a YMCA gym membership, which is also not tax deductible.

I also say this being an Alcor member myself. Also, here's a resource on charitable giving and taxes I put together that may be useful: https://medium.com/@aaronhamlin/your-guide-to-charitable-giving-and-taxes-a7c0f44c922

Note that I don't count my payments for membership/cryopreservation towards my giving.

2Taymon5moAlcor claims on their brochure that membership dues "may be" tax-deductible. It's not clear to me how they concluded that. Somebody should probably ask them.
1aaronhamlin5moSometimes membership dues can be deductable with a nonprofit but normally not in exchange for a service. For example, you could likely deduct ACLU membership dues. But they're not requiring membership in exchange for a service. I'd find the Alcor deduction much more questionable given that the only folks who get memberships are the ones who are being cryopreserved.

As with last year, I'll be giving almost entirely to the Donor Lottery. I think it's the best place to donate for people in my position. I'm keeping my pledge to donate 10%, but this year I've also created an "altruism" category in my budget for spending that I believe will help the EA community outside of normal donation-based approaches.

Hey JP, could you clarify what you mean by "spending that I believe will help the EA community outside of normal donation-based approaches"? Could you give an example?

6JP Addison5moI recently became good at hands-free input. To help other EAs who have RSI, I'm strongly considering ordering a bunch of equipment to my home, which I can then send as an expedited starter pack to anyone who wants to take a break from typing but doesn't want to wait for some often-out-of-stock microphones.
2BrianTan5moInteresting. Aside from a microphone, are there any other things part of that starter pack? I don't have RSI yet but I think I could be at risk of developing it, so maybe I want to take some preventive measures.
4JP Addison5moFoot pedals, a head or eye tracker, maybe a graphics tablet for less-straining mouse input.
1Linda Linsefors5moMy friend's wrist where hurting from clicking, so we tried getting a second mouse, which we taped on the floor as a foot pedal. Now he moves the cursor whit his hand and click with his foot. It works surprisingly well.

This is my first time commenting/interacting in writing on a forum post! 🎉

This year, I donated my 10% (as per GWWC) in an even three-way split between AMF, Malaria Consortium, and GiveWell's Maximum Impact Fund.

I did it through Giving Tuesday, and I practiced on the simulator a bunch and was able to call my credit card company to make sure they were aware of the charges, so the timestamp on my donation for all charges read "8:00am" ET. I'm optimistic it got matched, though of course I can't know for sure! 🤞

I wasn't planning on donating to GiveWell's fund, but then I saw the name "Maximum Impact Fund" and couldn't resist! It was SO well named! Whoever picked that name deserves a raise!

This year, I am investing to give with 100% of my donation budget. I am moderately convinced by the arguments in favor of giving later. I'm not entirely convinced—in particular, for some types of work (such as foundational research), it seems more important to do early—but the state of knowledge on the question seems to be improving rapidly. If (to simplify) the optimal time to donate is either now or centuries from now, then it seems much less harmful to incorrectly donate a few years too late than to incorrectly donate centuries too early. So the safer choice is not to donate anything right now.

My biggest concern with investing to give is that I will become less altruistic over time, and won't end up donating the money. I considered putting my donation budget into a donor-advised fund, but I decided against it for the reasons explained here.

Alternatively, I could donate a little of my donation budget and invest the rest, but I'm willing to bite the bullet on the argument that all altruistic funds on the margin should be invested.

(My income is unusually low this year, so I barely have a donation budget anyway. But this is what I'd do if I had more money.)

What's your long-term plan to ensure your invested money goes to good causes? Might you give to a Founders Pledge long-term investment fund?

5MichaelDickens5moThere's a good chance I will give to the long-term investment fund once it's up and running, depending on how much I like its investment portfolio. I think the optimal altruistic portfolio [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/zKFcC87iZXvk7yhbP/uncorrelated-investments-for-altruists] (on the margin) looks pretty weird, and they might not want to invest like that. (It might be entirely rational for the long-term investment fund not to invest in a way that looks too weird, because that could make it harder to attract donations.) EDIT: I realized I only answered half of your question. RE my long-term plan, I honestly don't know what to do to reduce the risk of value drift if I don't end up giving to the long-term investment fund. Reducing value drift seems like an important open problem.

I have taken the GWWC pledge and have donated roughly $50k over my lifetime, but this year I plan on donating $0 for tax reasons.

Briefly, I spent a good chunk of this year underemployed, and have reason to think my marginal tax rate will be higher next year than this year, so it's more cost effective to batch for next year. Also, the US tax system of standard deduction vs itemized means that batched donations are almost always more tax effective. (happy to explain more if interested!)

I do plan on donating slightly more than the 10% of pretax salary, because I put some of the charitable funds towards higher-risk bets that ended up paying off (on Biden winning, $2k earned on $5k invested, and a personal bet with a friend for $65 earned on $35 invested). The charity framing helps me take justify riskier bets with high EV, compared to personal investing where the goal is stability.

As for causes, I'll probably throw it into a donor lottery this year (in the past I've just been going through GiveWell but lotteries seem interesting).

This year, I ran a birthday fundraiser for the Nuclear Threat Initiative. I also continued donating $5/month to the ACLU. I'm still a student and I didn't have a job this summer, so I don't have much money to donate.

Great question - thanks Michael for asking this!

This year I'm again making mostly infrastructure donations, plus some smaller donations when there's leverage (e.g. sponsoring giving games).

So far that has meant donations to Effective Altruism Australia and the Centre for Effective Altruism (some of which was donor-matched by my wife's employer Adobe, some of which is salary sacrificed as I'm now at CEA), and some donations to individual charities (e.g. GFI, Animals Australia and AMF).

We've also recently signed our wills (after sitting unsigned in a draw for far too long) where some specific gifts and most of the residue of our estate will be split between a few EA infrastructure organisations. If you haven't checked out Effective Legacies for a free will kit or looked into making a bequest, I highly encourage this.

Another highlight of 2020 was making some investments via a trust so that they can be donated tax-efficiently upon liquidation (even if they don't have deductible gift recipient status in Australia, because they are a beneficiary of the trust).

I’ve documented my donation plans in a blog post Donations 2020.

I’m currently planning to put CHF 6,000 into the $500,000 donor lottery and to donate some odds and ends to the Center on Long-Term Risk.

Also donating 10% to honor my GWWC pledge and investing the rest for future giving. This year was a little different than our planned giving as I was able to find several unique opportunities to donate through a social worker contact in India. The economic impact of the pandemic initially created some crisis type situations where migrant workers were unable to work or return home and many of the most vulnerable in urban slums experienced truly critical conditions. Because of our direct contact to people doing work with those people, we were reasonably confident that helping some of these people meet basic needs not being met by other programs was neglected and critical enough to potentially be more impactful than our typical Givewell donations.

These opportunities combined made up more than half of our charitable giving for the year. We continue to donate to AMF monthly and this year have added donations to Wikipedia (after 2020 teaching me the value of open access, accurate information) and ALLFED (for many of the reasons listed in the excellent comment above).

We are still behind on our pledge and are considering trying to get a matched donation on giving Tuesday and still researching high yield options. Suggestions welcome.

I wrote about my donation decisions this year on my blog. I'm hoping to ramp up my giving over the next four years so I've decided to be more public about my thoughts.

TL;DR: I’m giving away £35k this year. £3.5k to SCI and the remainder to the Long Term Future Fund

Hi George, thanks for sharing this! You wrote in your blog that you were considering investing your money, but that this was difficult in the UK. If you are referring to investing to give rather than just postponing for a year, FYI we'll likely have a Long-Term Investment Fund at Founders Pledge by the end of next year, which we might open up to the public and will likely be accessible from the UK. Do let me know if this would interest you, as knowing there is non-member interest might inform our decisions around opening it up.

1GMcGowan4moThanks for reading! I meant investing for a shortish period of time, and retaining control of the funds until I donate. So it would mostly be about deferring the decision for a bit while still getting tax benefits, as opposed to delegating the decision to the trustees of the Long-Term Fund. I lean towards giving sooner instead of later for "hinginess" reasons. I also think the vast majority of EA resources are already invested in some sense (in human capital, expansion orientated organisations or Open Philanthropy finances). I do think your fund is a good idea though, I can imagine changing my mind and there are certainly plenty of people who disagree with me!

Thanks for writing about your 2020 donations and future donation plans, and for sharing a link here!

I found the linked post interesting. Really cool to hear you'll be ramping up your giving even further in the coming years, and putting (even) more time into finding and deciding on donation opportunities.

My wife and I are currently allocating 10% of my income to "giving later" , investing the funds 100% in stocks in the interim.  

We will likely make our regular donation to the donor lottery this year, which will come out of these funds.  I would consider giving more to the donor lottery, but on first glance I am less excited about needing to put money into a DAF or equivalent if we win because it is less flexible than money in an investment account.  

If users have thoughts on the ideal vehicle to put "giving later" funds in, I would be interested to hear.  I currently feel good about it being fairly flexible, such that it could be spend on things that are not charities or 501c3s.  I am currently keeping it in a fairly standard investment account.  

If users have thoughts on the ideal vehicle to put "giving later" funds in, I would be interested to hear.

I don't have much thoughts on this myself, but you might find the post Donor-Advised Funds vs. Taxable Accounts for Patient Donors useful. 

Some other potentially useful resources:

(Personally, I'm just using a fairly standard investment account as well, but this isn't the end point of lots and lots of careful deliberation.)

GiveWell just published a post on where many of their staff gave or plan to give in 2020.

I donated to the Against Malaria Foundation in 2020

First I've donated 10 dollars to Ought here (effectively 35):

Make a $10 donation into $35 - EA Forum (effectivealtruism.org)

Given the small amount, I didn't put much thought in, and hence I don't want to put detailed reasons here, to avoid spreading inaccurate memes. The very basic reason I chose an organisation working on AI safety was concern for the long-term future of humanity.

Second, I'm planning to do the rest and bulk of my giving through the donor lottery, mostly for the standard reasons found at the link. (One sentence summary: The expected amount donated is the same as if given directly, but if you win, the much higher amount will justify putting more careful thought into your donation.) 

Specifically I am giving to the 100k block. That is because at 20k I would probably rather lose than win. The amount would be big enough for it to be important to put in effort and research, but the amount may be too small to really justify delaying any career opportunities. At 100k I'd rather win: At that point I think it would be worth taking some time off to focus on this. That would be super interesting and hopefully help me fine-tune my thinking on some important EA matters. It could also tell me whether I would enjoy being a grant-maker and give me something to show if I decided I did. Given I'd rather win than lose at 100k, 500k is out of the question.

In the past I had donated through the EA funds. I still think that's probably a decent way of giving and might even end up giving the money there if I won the lottery, though I probably wouldn't. 

Part of the reason I chose the lottery instead is that I think they are closer to the optimum on the spectrum of how big the donation decisions are individuals get to make:
Donors in the range of up to a few thousand dollars may not put in enough research to make optimal decisions.
At the other extreme, if individuals get to decide over budgets of millions or more, that may skew the total EA portfolio too far towards their idiosyncratic preferences. 

I feel there must exist an optimum between these two and that this optimum is probably very roughly in the 100k ballpark. However, I don't have strong opinions on the exact order of magnitude. It may be that it is in the millions, in which case, the specific argument above against donating to the EA funds vanishes. Of course, things would depend on the specifics as well: maybe spectacularly good allocators should get much larger chunks, though it is probably very hard to tell who that is.

Interesting reasoning, thanks for sharing!

Regarding the optimum size for an individual donor to be, you or others might find this post (at least tangentially) interesting, if you haven't seen it already: Risk-neutral donors should plan to make bets at the margin at least as well as giga-donors in expectation.

I am not that confident this was the right decision (and will be curious about people's views, though I can't do anything about it now), but I already gave most of 10% of my income this year (as per my GWWC pledge) to the 'Biden Victory Fund.' (The rest went to the Meta Fund earlier in the year). I know Biden's campaign was the opposite of neglected, but I thought the imporance and urgency of replacing Trump as the US president swamped that consideration in the end (I think having Republicans in the White House, and especially Trump, is very bad for the provision of global public and coordination-relient goods). I expect to go back to giving to non-political causes next year.

I am still considering giving to the Georgia senate race with some of my budget for next year, because it seems so high 'leverage' on US electoral reform, which would (I think) make it easier for Democrats to get elected in the future and (I hope) make the US's democracy function better long-term. For example, there's an electoral reform bill that seems much more likely to pass if Democrats control the senate.

The quality of these choices depends on substantive judgements that in US politics Democrats make better choices for the world than Republicans, and that continued US global leadership would be better than the alternative with regard to things like climate change, AI, and biorisks. I think both of these things are true, but could be wrong!

Do you think the Biden campaign had room for more funding, i.e., that your donation made a Biden victory more likely on the margin (by enough to be worth it)? I am pretty skeptical of this; I suspect they already had more money than they were able to spend effectively. (I don't have a source for this other than Maciej Cegłowski, who has relevant experience but whom I don't agree with on everything; on the other hand, I can't recall ever hearing anyone make the case that U.S. presidential general-election campaigns do have room for more funding, and I'd be ... (read more)

2Rook5moI wrote something about campaign contributions [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/NNq8dKz86k6e6AzJS/some-rough-thoughts-on-the-value-of-campaign-contributions#Does_Money_Actually_Influence_Election_Outcomes_] in federal US elections earlier this year. I could be wrong, but based on my (non-expert) survey of the campaign finance literature, it doesn't seem like donating to political campaigns has a very substantial impact on election outcomes (most of the time). The main takeaway is that spending and success are correlated, but the former doesn't cause the latter. Spending is simply a useful heuristic for the size/traction/etc. of a campaign.
1Ardenlk5moYes, I do think they had room for more funding, but could be wrong. My view was based on (1) a recommendation from someone whose judgement on these things I think is informed and probably better than most people's including mine, who thought the Biden Victory Fund was the highest impact thing to donate to this year, (2) an intuition that the DNC/etc. wouldn't put so much work into fundraising if more money didn't benefit their chances of success, and (3) the way the Biden Victory Fund in particular structured the funds it received, which was to distribute it among the Biden campaign, the DNC, and state parties (in order of priority), which it said how it would do more precisesly, except that it would change the distrbution if the results would have resulted in "excessive" amounts going to certain orgs.

I should preface this by noting that the current charities are not EA ones. This giving plan is also a work in progress and could change. 

Yet, the sharing on why and to whom may be of use to me and the EA community. 

How Much

I currently donate 10% or more to charity. 

It is not a magic number, but is one I am familiar with through the concept of tithing in religion and the Giving What We Can Pledge. 

It also represents a greater commitment to the causes. Yet, it still means 90% for me as one person and 10% for the world, hardly a good deal for the world. 

Where and Why

Poverty and global-health charities. 

Doing something about poverty has always been a focus of mine. Global health becomes more and more of a priority because ill health can prevent not only life, but a quality of life and prosperity. 

I tend to focus on direct relief and not advocacy or system change. 

The evidence of impact for system change and advocacy is more unclear to me than direct relief. 

If the advocacy is successful that does not mean the donation I gave to an advocacy group was effective. As there are so many actors involved in the campaign and the campaign may have been successful regardless of the group I have given to. 

Political candidates can receive significant money with no certainty they will be elected or can achieve what they want, if elected.

So, I have more confidence in direct relief. 

The  Charities  

The International Rescue Committee

I have changed from giving to single intervention charities like the Against Malaria Foundation to broader ones like the IRC. 

I think if the circus is going to come to town that it should have more than just bed nets for those that do not already have malaria. 

It should also have other medical interventions for those with it and other medical issues. 

Yes, some of the programs in a broader charity may be less cost-effective than others or less effective than others. Yet, overall I think the broader ones are the better choice. 

The Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic 

It provides free primary healthcare to people in LA. 

I am okay with helping people in developed as well as developing countries. 

For me, the debate was primary healthcare or medical research. 

I certainly support more funding for medical research, yet I did not know which medical research charity is the one more likely to get to a cure and sooner rather than later. 

Yet, primary healthcare charities {no matter which one really} are likely to provide that primary healthcare to people. I also figured that my small donation could cover more of a primary healthcare service than a billion dollar cure, thus be of more use. 

The Association to Benefit of Children. 

ABC provides healthcare and education to kids in poverty in New York {including in a very poor Congressional district in America, The South Bronx}. It also provides job help and accommodation to families. 

They claim to achieve high outcomes for people {much higher than those not in the program}. They have also been recommended by at least one independent program evaluator. 

I must admit that education philanthropy is not something I am that supportive of. 

I find people treat education as this magic wand that is the solution to everything,  but things are not that simple.

Research notes what happens outside the school has more of an impact on educational outcomes and prosperity later in life. So, the focus on philanthropy should {in my mind} be outside the school. 

I also want more immediate support to people and not a multi-year school program whose results {like a good job as an adult} is too far away.  

I don't , however, want to completely ignore early intervention. I like the medical programs of the charity and education is important. So I support it. 

The fourth area of giving is for one-off donations or irregular donations {unlike the above mentioned}, to a variety of charities.  

One idea was that if a charity is good enough to receive one donation that it is good enough to receive more than one. Yet, I thought by having a fourth area of giving like this it means charities not missing out on donations because they are not the ones I give to regularly. 

It also keeps me motivated to research other charities. 

The focus is global, developing countries and developed countries. 

They have to be effective and the donation has to equate to at least 1% of the intervention {that's a rough guide}. 

So, I would imagine the one-off donations will be at least slightly higher than the regular donations to the charities I give to on a regular basis.  

After reading about McKenzie Scott's donations including to lesser-known charities, I am interested in browsing the lesser known ones as well as the more known ones. 

I posted on my website because I'm using some formatting not supported here: Mati's 2020 donation recommendations

2 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 6:29 AM

This coming year I am setting a target of donating £2000, going to:

  • Around 30%: Eliminating extreme suffering (OPIS):

In my life I have had the misfortune of experiencing extreme pain a few times. This pain  required strong painkillers (e.g. morphine) to kill. These experiences had a hugely outsized impact on my wellbeing in relation to their duration, due to the intensity of the suffering I felt. The thought of not having access to pain relief in these moments of suffering is terrifying, and as such I believe eliminating or reducing extreme suffering should be one of, if not THE top moral priority for humanity. I plan to donate to OPIS (organisation for the prevention of intense suffering). I am a big fan of their work to increase access to morphine in developing countries, and to find effective pain relief for cluster headaches. In particular, their approach of lobbying for institutional change means that any donation to them could have an enduring impact e.g. if they are successful in changing laws preventing access to pain relief.

  • Around 30%: Global health/poverty:

Having grown up in a developing country, it's very easy for me to summon the imaginative empathy required to donate towards this cause area, and doing so motivates me to  keep earning to give. It's also a cause area that I believe  has become more urgent in the last year, with covid-19 and the resulting  blow to the world's economy threatening to undo much of the progress made towards eliminating global poverty over the last few decades. 

-Give Directly: I believe there is a strong argument to the effectiveness of unconditional cash donations, with the term 'cash benchmarks' now being used to define the idea that we should measure any intervention against the equivalent amount of good that could be done simply by giving the recipient an amount of cash equal to the intervention. Another factor that motivates me to donate to Give Directly over other  global health interventions that do no involve unconditional cash transfers is the that it has less of the shadow of Western parochialism. There is a long history of misguided Western interventions in developing countries, and if we are unsure what the most effective way of helping poor people are, it may be simplest to simply give them the money directly, as they are most familiar with their situation and will know best where to use it.  Lastly, unconditional cash transfers appeal to a moral stance around global justice, the immorality of extreme global inequality and the legacy of colonialism, which I am sympathetic to. Lastly, the concept of GiveDrectly is very easy to explain., and I have received supportive responses when explaining it to non-EA friends. I think that by being public about my giving to this charity (e.g. Facebook fundraisers) I maybe be able to raise an additional 30% in donations from people who would otherwise be unlikely to give to effective charities

* Against Malaria Foundation: I have a monthly payment of £10 a month set up to AMF, and I'm very unlikely to change this in the future.Having a steady, predictable stream of income is very useful for charities and this is another reason for me to not change my donations to them. Lastly, I like the dashboard that shows me where the nets I have bought have gone to (this probably counts as 'buying fuzzies', although I know there's also a very good argument to the effectiveness of AMF)

 

  • Around 10%: Animal Welfare:

I find it hard to feel enough empathy towards animals to donate large amounts of my donation budget towards animal interventions instead of human ones. To what degree this is based on legitimate questions towards how strongly we should weight the experiences of animals, and to what degree this is 'speciesism'  prejudice, I'm not sure. Nevertheless, I plan to donate to the top recommended ACE charity for the following reasons:

-there is good evidence large mammals are sentient

-there is good evidence that factory farming causes lots of suffering to these animals

-you can save the lives/reduce the suffering of many of these animals per £, compared to human interventions

-many in the ea community think this is a good cause area

 

  • Around 30%: Undecided/opportunistic donations:

I plan to keep a portion of my donation budget undecided where I will spend it. This year I donated £200 to Family Empowerment Media. This was quite a spontaneous decision for me, and was based on the fact that they were recently founded and raising money for a pilot trial. As such, I felt my donation could have a large marginal benefit for reasons of 

-neglectedness

-information value

I plan to give this portion of my giving budget to an opportunity(s) that are more speculative or time bound, but potentiality higher-impact that the interventions I have listed above. 

Thanks for sharing this reasoning :)

this probably counts as 'buying fuzzies'

Just for any readers who might be unfamiliar with that phrase, I believe it's a reference to the well-worth-reading post Purchase Fuzzies and Utilons Separately.