Should I give to Our World In Data?

by Cullen_OKeefe 11d10th Sep 20196 comments

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I’m considering making a donation to Our World in Data, which is currently fundraising. My thinking is that:
1. I haven’t seen any EAs (except Steven Pinker) donate or grant here so it might be an overlooked/undervalued opportunity. Besides Pinker and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, I didn’t recognize any of the donors on their donor list.
2. EAs frequently use this as a source that is high-quality in both substance and presentation and focuses on important issues. They have an explicit focus on doing work that neglected. Expanding their work could therefore be useful as source for both substantive EA work and movement-building. I also think there might be something of a network effect of having a bunch of macroeconomic data in one place.

Reasons against:
1. Same as 1 above: there might be a good reason for no grants to-date. If the EA donor "market" is efficient, a good opportunity like this would have been taken, especially since the site is well-known.
2. Unclear what the effect size of a donation is. I asked Max Roser on Twitter and hope he’ll answer.
3. The data collected and published might not be particularly important on the margin. If you look at the latest posts, the importance of the topics varies pretty widely. But overall I think the new work is still impressively important on average!

Assume the donation size in consideration is between $1,000-$10,000.