TLDR: It's Giving Season! Participate in the Donation Election, start writing posts for “Effective giving spotlight” week (starting this Tuesday!), and more.
There are many ways to participate:
- Get involved in Giving Season events
- Donate to the Donation Election Fund ⬇️ to encourage discussion and participation (there are rewards)
- Add candidates to the Election
- Pre-vote ⬇️ to register your interest (pre-votes are anonymous, but we’ll know how many people pre-voted for a given candidate in the Election)
- Share your experience donating, fundraising, earning to give, or more ⬇️ — or your uncertainties or considerations about where we should donate and how we should fundraise
- Fundraise for your project
(This post is an update to our earlier announcement about Giving Season on the Forum.)
Giving Season & weekly discussion themes
Start preparing for discussion themes on the EA Forum:
|Theme and dates||Description|
Effective Giving Spotlight
(7-14 November) — starting this Tuesday!
How can we grow the amount of funding going to effective projects aimed at improving the world? We’ll feature people’s experiences with donating, fundraising, earning to give, etc.
Marginal Funding Week
How would your project use extra funding?
To decide whether donating to a given project or organization is cost-effective, it’s really useful to know how marginal funding would get used. We’ll invite EA organizations and projects to describe how they would use extra donations — a bit like this post about LTFF — or otherwise share more about what they do.
We might also try to collect a summary of the key information in one post at the end of the week.
Donation Debate Week
Where should we donate (and what should we vote for in the Donation Election)?
Discuss which interventions and projects are most cost-effective and how they should vote (and donate!). I’m hoping to see estimates (including rough “back of the envelope calculations” — BOTECs) and productive disagreement or identification of what the cruxes that drive different conclusions are.
We’ll also probably feature some classic writing on the topic, some relevant AMAs, and more.
First weekly theme: Effective Giving Spotlight (November 7-14)
A lot of promising projects are funding-constrained — they’d get more done if they had more funding. “Effective Giving Spotlight” week will feature content on how we can grow the amount of funding going to effective projects aimed at improving the world & how we can improve how we approach effective giving.
Consider participating! You can write posts (or link-posts, including things like reviews of classic writing on the topic), comment on others’ posts, or share the event. You might want to write about:
- Your experience donating, fundraising, earning to give, etc. — lessons, things you’ve changed your mind on, postmortems
- Thoughts on who should consider earning to give
- Uncertainties you have about where to donate
- What effective projects would be particularly useful
- … or anything else related to effective giving.
If you’re not sure if something would be useful or relevant, please feel free to reach out to me or to the Forum team. We’ll post smaller announcements with more details about the other themes.
Participate in the Donation Election
In December, Forum users will vote on how the Donation Election Fund should be allocated between different charitable projects. The fund will then be designated for the three winning candidates (proportionally to how people voted).
For now, you can donate to the Fund, add important candidates if they’re missing, pre-vote, and start discussing.
Donate to the Donation Election Fund
Why donate to the Donation Election Fund? (And why not donate?)
Update: there are also rewards for donating.
Contributing to the Donation Election Fund could be a good way to improve how Giving Season goes this year, while also directing more funding to promising projects that could productively use it.
- Money in the Donation Election Fund will be designated for candidates selected from this list, and EA Forum users will vote to determine the final winners. I don’t know which projects will win in the Election, but I expect that I’ll be excited to have supported the projects that do.
- You might also believe that the Donation Election will choose more cost-effective projects than you would, although I’d personally probably donate to a fund or to a donor lottery if this were my main objective.
- Donating could improve the EA community’s understanding of key questions related to effective giving and boost the extent to which effective giving is a core part of effective altruism. (This is my main reason for donating to the Donation Election Fund.)
- Many people got involved in EA discovered the community in the past couple of years, and probably missed a lot of discussions on donation choice, considerations around earning to give, and other topics in effective giving. I think Giving Season and the Donation Election could do a lot to help us gain a better understanding of these areas, and could boost the salience of effective giving, prompting people to consider donating or helping high-impact projects fundraise in other ways.
- A larger Donation Election Fund would encourage more and better participation in these events — increasing the events’ impact. People would feel more motivated to follow the discussions, share their uncertainties or disagreements, explain in greater detail what their projects do and how they would use extra money, etc.
- Donating will also likely make the donors themselves feel more invested in Giving Season and the Donation Election, and they will probably go better as a result.
- You might want to donate to multiple different kinds of projects in order to make changing your mind about cause prioritization easier, or maybe to hedge your donations (although this is probably more complicated than it seems). Donating to the Donation Election Fund could be a way to decide your donations in a very different way from the process you normally use.
I’m also personally excited about the Donation Election because I’m curious about what people will vote for and how the discussions will go. I think it will be a worse experiment and worse information about what people prioritize if the Donation Election Fund only contains a small amount of money.
It might not make sense for you to donate to the Donation Election Fund if you don’t expect the winning projects to be as promising as what you would otherwise donate to and you don’t think the benefit of boosting participation in Giving Season is that strong — or if you don’t think you should be donating this year.
(Please note that donating to the Donation Election Fund doesn’t boost your voting power. I should also flag that I work for CEA, which is part of the organization managing the Donation Election and receiving and distributing funds via the Donation Election Fund.)
The Online Team is matching donations to the fund, up to $1,000 per person who donates and $5,000 in total — more details
Update: the match cap has been hit, so the Online Team is no longer matching new donations, although I'm still excited to see more donations!
We (the CEA Online Team) will match donations to the Donation Election Fund, with some restrictions. We won't match more than $5000 in total, and for each person who donates, we’ll only match the first $1,000 of their donations. (We'll add the match when the limit is hit — and we'll note that here — or on December 1 and at the end of the Election.)
We’re offering the match because we think donating to the Donation Election Fund is quite useful. A larger Donation Election Fund will likely encourage more and better discussions on donation choice — and generally cause more people to put more energy into Giving Season on the EA Forum. (Some people on the team also think that personal investment into the Donation Election Fund will make people take the election more seriously — even if the personal investments are themselves quite small.) But whether or not the Fund is large, if Forum users aren’t interested in participating, this event will flop. So we’ll subsidize participation by offering the match.
You should probably view the match as a signal that we’re taking the Donation Election Fund seriously, and possibly as an opportunity to move funds designated for CEA towards projects chosen by Forum users. Whether or not this match is “counterfactual” is complicated (see more in the footnote).
We might also offer other (hopefully fun) incentives for donating to the Donation Election Fund.
Add candidates to the Donation Election
Update: The deadline has passed.
We’ve started the election with some pre-made candidates, based on our guess about the projects people will want to start (pre-)voting for. But until November 21, you can also add other candidates if you think some important ones are missing and they’re on this list. (Adding candidates earlier is probably better.)
To do that, you will need to submit a form and fundraise at least $50 for the candidate. The form will ask you for your email, a description of why you think the project is promising, and some other information. After you’ve submitted the form, we’ll set the candidate up on the technical side and reach out to you to remind you to add the $50 required (this should take at most 1-2 business days). We will only add the candidate to the Donation Election after the $50 goes through. As long as you submit a form by the end of the day on November 21 (anywhere on Earth) and add at least $50 to the candidate by the deadline we specify when we reach out, we’ll add the candidate to the election.
Explore candidates and pre-vote for the ones you think are particularly promising
If you had a Forum account as of 22 October 2023, you can already start pre-voting for candidates you’re likely to vote for (pre-votes are anonymous, don’t turn into real votes, and you can change them at any time). Pre-voting will change the default ordering of candidates on the Giving Portal and will show other people which candidates are likely to be popular — which can prompt useful discussions and surface important disagreements.
Start discussing where we should donate, what we should vote for, and other questions related to effective giving
You can also explore what other people are writing about the Donation Election, effective giving, or the candidates in the election.
Voting opens December 1 — more information
Anyone who had an account as of October 22, 2023 will be able to vote (everyone else can participate in other ways), and voting will open on December 1 and close on December 15 (2023, the end of the day anywhere on Earth).
Who can vote & voting norms
- Any Forum users who had an account as of October 22, 2023 can vote (voting functionality won't work for you if your account is newer than that).
- No donations are required to vote.
- If someone has multiple accounts, they can only vote once. We will be checking for suspicious voting patterns, and will likely void suspicious votes (and possibly involve the moderation team and take further action if we believe there’s manipulation).
- The voting system we're using is a weighted version of ranked-choice voting.
We’ll finalize the system in the next couple of weeks (and announce it on the Forum). See some discussion here .
- Everyone who can vote has the same amount of voting power. You will only be able to vote for listed candidates in the Donation Election.
How to vote
- Donations to the fundraisers for specific candidates do not count as votes for that candidate.
- Voting will open on December 1 and close December 15 (2023, the end of the day anywhere on Earth). We’ll post an announcement about it on the Forum, share the fact that voting has opened in the EA Forum Digest, and we’ll likely feature it in a banner on the Frontpage.
- You can also sign up to get notified when voting opens by clicking “get notified” here (you’ll need to be logged in).
Share your feedback and how you plan on participating (if at all)
Thanks to everyone whose work has gone into launching this!
Only Forum users whose accounts are older than October 22, 2023 will be able to vote or pre-vote. Others can donate to projects directly (or to the Donation Election Fund), add candidates, and participate in the discussion.
There are new projects, funds that could make good grants if they had more funding, and projects that could scale to do a lot more if more people donated to them.
Some projects might get added to this list.
Whether or not this match is “counterfactual” depends on how you define the phrase. We wouldn’t donate these funds to [insert winners of the election here] if we weren’t running this match — so in that sense it’s counterfactual (unlike some examples here). But if you’re wondering if, by donating $20, you’re actually counterfactually causing $40 in total to be added to the Donation Election Fund, the answer is more complicated. Most importantly, the match cap might get reached without you (i.e. maybe 5 people will donate $1,000 each at the last moment, in which case they’d exhaust whatever is left of the match whether or not you donate).
The funds for the match are coming from a line item on the Online Team’s budget for prizes and similar projects focused on boosting discussions on the Forum. We didn’t run prizes this year (although we might next year), and if we don’t use the funding by the end of the year, it will probably be merged into CEA’s general funding for next year.
We are restricting candidates to this list for technical/logistical reasons. If the projects you think are most cost-effective aren't here, I'd love to see posts encouraging readers to donate to them directly!
We’re requiring this to avoid a proliferation of candidates people are not interested in voting for — having a lot of candidates could get pretty confusing.
Candidates will be set up as a special kind of Giving What We Can fundraiser.
As with voting, we’re adding this restriction to avoid voting manipulation, and also to avoid misleading people into thinking they’re eligible to vote in the Donation Election if they have newer accounts.
This will probably either be determined by pre-votes or by the amount of money in the fundraiser. We’ll make it clear before we open voting, and I don’t currently think we’ll need to use this.
If the Donation Election is not capable of running as planned (e.g. due to fraud or technical failures), we reserve the right to modify, suspend, or terminate the election. If that happens, we will post an announcement on the EA Forum and work to distribute all donations made to the Donation Election Fund in a manner consistent with the Donation Election description, but at our discretion.