(See past versions of this post: 2019, 2020. The text of this version borrows heavily from the 2020 post.)

Use this post to share where you donated or plan to donate in 2020, and why. 

All donation sizes are welcome! (And you don't need to share the amount, of course.)

Share as much or as little detail as you want. See those "past version" links for samples of writeups people have done.

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)

Many people haven't yet handled their end-of-year giving; this is a great chance to share some resources with them, or find ideas by reading the answers.

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This year I am shifting £10k into a Donor Advised Fund so that I have some resources available for active grant making.

I think there is a reasonable chance I will come across opportunities to get people to start new high impact projects, and in doing so could have more impact than if I gave to the EA Funds. My reasoning for think this is set out below. I think fairly small sums of money (~£15-30k, which could fund a salary for 6-12 months) could be enough to get someone to take a career risk and try a new project. I don’t earn enough to comfortably give that much in a single year so putting something aside to make sure I access to funds feels useful.

Happy to receive feedback on my reasoning. Happy to receive suggestions of smallish projects to fund. If anyone is considering a new project (especially in longtermist policy) do reach out to me maybe I can help you get it going!!
 

***
Why aim to do active grant making?

  1. Based track record and learnings. Each year I reflect on my previous years giving and what I have learned and have done well and have done better. When reflecting on my past donations I note that I am particularly happy with my own (~£15k) attempt at active grant making trying to encourage Natalie and Tildy to scale up the APPG for Future Generations (who I later ended up working for) which I think has been very impactful.
     
  2. I have seen it work as a recipient. I have been the recipient of active grant making (~£15k) that prompted me to work full time for EA London (back before there were accessible EA funds for community builidng from any institutions) and am extremely grateful for this. This seems to have been an effective donation ahead of the curve as since there there has been a massive scale up in resources for local community organisers all around the world. 
     
  3. Good theory of change. Not everyone who has a good idea will necessarily have the confidence to take it forward and make it a reality. It seems reasonable that as someone who is well networked in EA I could bump into these people. I have some familiarity with both seeking and giving funding and I expect supporting such potential entrepreneurs with my own money could be the thing they need to get going. 
     
  4. I have relevant expertise in policy and EA Funds do not. In particular the Long-Term Future Fund receives numerous applications for policy  projects (I know of at least a few) but does not appear to fund any such work. My charitable guess is this is because they lack the expertise to vet such projects. Longtermist policy seems to be extremely tractable right now (at least the UK, Ireland, the UN the OECD all seem to be very receptive). It seems plausible that I can find ways to support such projects.
    Similarly the Global Health and Development Fund does not appear to support small start-up projects and I have some expertise in that too. 
     

***

I  also donated about £450 via the Every.org matching campaign so as to have donations doubled, with $300 to animal welfare (THL, GFI, Animal Welfare Index) $200 to global poverty (AMF, Malaria Consortium) and $100 to EA meta (Rethink Priorities).

Note: the donation to the DAF is via a donation swap as I don’t have my own DAF

I am continuing monthly donations to The Humane League, as I think their past campaigns are likely to have been more cost-effective at averting suffering than GiveWell top charities, based on this report. I am also donating to GiveWell top charities as they are clearly the gold standard for global poverty. Finally, I allocate a smaller portion of my donations to the Clean Air Task Force (CATF), which I think could plausibly be more cost-effective given the vast costs of climate change, though I would like to see some attempt to quantify the cost-effectiveness of CATF's work. 

I am also considering swtiching some of these donations to StrongMinds, because I ultimately care most about happiness/suffering, but I am waiting to see if GiveWell provides updates in response to Happier Lives Institute's report

Hey, I am the author of the corporate campaigns cost-effectiveness estimate you mention. In case it's relevant, I recently spent 3 months doing another (much more detailed) cost-effectiveness estimate of chicken welfare reforms (corporate and legislative) that I unfortunately can not make public.  According to this new estimate, in 2019-2020 chicken welfare reforms affected 65 years of chicken life per dollar spent. According to the same new estimate, the cost-effectiveness in 2016-2018 was about 2.5 times higher. So while it's true that lately campaigns were not as cost-effective as they were some years ago, I think that they are still very cost-effective. In fact, even more  cost-effective than my linked report suggests because in that report I think I underestimated the cost-effectiveness. Also, because of the research of the Welfare Footprint Project, I now think that these reforms are more important to chickens than I  thought previously (although I haven't yet examined the broiler book in detail).

2jackva6mo
Hi Lucas! On CATF, our new report [https://assets.ctfassets.net/x5sq5djrgbwu/7eEpX4UcKNEy6LUDhf2B05/6066f33f5c97b70955bc1eb17829b73d/A_guide_to_the_changing_landscape_of_high-impact_climate_philanthropy.pdf] does include a new conservative back of the envelope calculation why we think organizations like CATF are so cost-effective (in "Background") and, more importantly than this one particular estimate, brings together the underlying reasoning. I also hope to publish some retrospective analysis on grants to CATF and Carbon180 in the new year (pertaining to impact on climate policy in the US) as well as prospective new cost-effectiveness estimates for CATF (pertaining to a grant for CATF under a different theory of change, avoiding carbon lock-in in emerging economies).
6Lucas Lewit-Mendes6mo
Thanks Saulius and Johannes! Sounds like these are both fantastic giving opportunities. Re the Welfare Footprint Project, my understanding is that we need these welfare estimates to calculate the effect of the Better Chicken Commitment (for example) on years of suffering averted, i.e. something like: 65 years of chicken life * (difference in hours per chicken life of disabling or excruciating pain between slower growing breeds and faster growing breeds / hours lived per chicken life). Is that the approach you would take Saulius? Johannes, thanks for linking that cost-effectiveness work, and looking forward to seeing further updates!
3saulius6mo
Yes, that is the approach I would take. You don't need to divide by hours lived per chicken life though because that's already taken into account in the metric of hours in pain endured throughout the life time. If anything, you might want to adjust for the fact that cage-free hens currently lay fewer eggs throughout their lifetime than caged hens but this will make at most maybe 10% difference. Also, the difference between eggs per hen might shrink as they might optimize cage-free production more when its scale becomes bigger. When it comes to cost-effectiveness of broiler vs. cage-free campaigns, my estimates suggest that it was quite similar for the years 2019-2020 (I'm just telling this because you would need to know that too to make that estimate).
3saulius6mo
I also had tried to see how many DALYs did these campaigns produce and got that it's about 1 DALY per dollar spent. This is based on subjective assumptions that a chicken has 25 times less moral weight than a human, and that the suffering that is prevented by these welfare reforms is as bad as a condition for a human that in GDB (2019) [http://ghdx.healthdata.org/record/ihme-data/gbd-2019-disability-weights] is described as “has severe back and leg pain, which causes difficulty dressing, sitting, standing, walking, and lifting things. The person sleeps poorly and feels worried.” (though values I used for the impact of the reforms in Europe are a bit smaller.
1Lucas Lewit-Mendes6mo
Thanks for your reply Saulius! I wasn't sure if the 65 years (or 569,400 hours) per dollar already accounts for the number of hours lived in disabling/excruciating pain (as opposed to milder suffering)? To be more precise, if each hen lives for ~1.27 years (i.e. 11,125 hours), and a caged hen spends ~431 hours [https://welfarefootprint.org/research-projects/laying-hens/] in disabling/excruciating pain, while an aviary hen spends ~156 hours in disabling/excruciating pain, I was thinking that the reduction in hours of suffering per dollar is actually 569400*(431-156)/11125 = 14,075 hours (or 1.6 years)? In other words, I was trying to account for the fact that only 275 hours of suffering are being averted rather than 11,125 hours per hen. However, am I missing something that is contained in your model? (Note: I wasn't sure if 65 years referred to hens or broilers, but the same sentiment would hold either way.) As you note, this doesn't account for differences in productivity (It was really interesting to hear that cage-free productivity might increase with scale!). Thanks again for engaging in this discussion, and looking forward to hearing your reponse!
3saulius6mo
Hi Lucas. No, 65 years estimate doesn't account for the number of hours lived in disabling/excruciating pain. It just means that this how many years chickens spend in better conditions per dollar spent. I found that for every dollar spent on cage-free campaigns, the campaigns caused 60 years of hens being in cage-free rather than caged environments. For every dollar spent on broiler campaigns, the campaigns caused 72 years of broilers being grown in better conditions (most of the impact comes from Europe). Since these numbers are similar, I just said one number (65 years) which says how many years both cage-free and caged campaigns impact per dollar. I did not estimate hours of pain the campaigns prevented. Note that this is cost-effectiveness of an average dollar, not of the additional dollar that you might be donating. And there are many other things that this estimate doesn't take into account that are listed here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/L5EZjjXKdNgcm253H/corporate-campaigns-affect-9-to-120-years-of-chicken-life#Ways_this_estimate_could_be_misleading] (this is for the old estimate, but I think all the same points would apply for this new estimate too).
1Lucas Lewit-Mendes6mo
Thanks very much Saulius, that all makes sense! Happy new year!
[+][comment deleted]6mo 1

I gave most of my donations to the EA Funds Donor Lottery because I felt pretty uncertain about where to give. I am still undecided on which cause to prioritize, but I have become fairly concerned about existential risk from AI and I don't think I know enough about the donation opportunities in that space. If I won the lottery, I would then take some more time to research and think about this decision.

I also donated to Wild Animal Initiative and Rethink Priorities because I still want to keep a regular habit of making donation decisions. I think they are the two best organizations working on wild-animal welfare, which is potentially a highly cost-effective cause area because of the very large number of wild animals in existence. I also donated to GiveWell's maximum impact fund.

In the past year, I donated about $2000 to organizations focused on reducing S-risks, namely the Center for Reducing Suffering and the Center on Long-Term Risk.

With our main donation in 2021, my partner and I supported the Future Matters Project (FMP), who are working on understanding and strengthening social movements, currently focused on climate change. I think of social movement research and work as a very valuable diversification of the "classical effective altruist" portfolio, and thus took up the opportunity to bridge a funding gap between two other grants. 

I interacted with the FMP founder a bunch during and after making the grant, which seems to have added value for them (by asking questions, helping to brainstorm, and providing perspectives). This made me update somewhat towards "individual, medium-sized EA donors can be a valuable part of the ecosystem by adding grant-making and mentoring capacity".

Like many here (I suspect), we also donated to EA Funds. Finally, I am one of the people who make small donations to Wikipedia every year - though I think of this more as paying the utility bills^^
Happy to chat about any and all of the above!

donations to Wikipedia every year - though I think of this more as paying the utility bills^^

 

I used to think the same, but after reading https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Guy_Macon/Wikipedia_has_Cancer and https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Medium-term_plan_2019/Annual_Plan_2021-2022 I don't think most (if any) of the money goes to things donors care about.

It would be great if there was a way to fund editing Wikipedia, with a focus on increasing the quality of important articles.
But looking at the comments here https://forum.effect... (read more)

2Pablo6mo
An alternative is to donate your time rather than your money, and use it to do the kind of work you would have funded, had this been an option. With most interventions, this isn't possible or realistic, but Wikipedia is the Free Encyclopedia that Anyone Can Edit.

Current general strategy: I'm hoping that I can identify opportunities that are missed by "bigger funders" (either due to differing values, funding sizes or other concerns). This year I think I found two opportunities where donations are plausibly better than giving to EA Funds. I probably spent around 20 hours on this decision and am not fully comfortable with it. Most of the time was spent in "mere discussions" rather than me sitting down and trying to compute cost-effectiveness in a spreadsheet. I'm unsure about investing to give, but I am investing a lot of my savings and may well give these away later anyway.

  • Center for Reducing Suffering, 40k CHF: I am fairly convinced by arguments for Suffering Focused Ethics. The two big organizations in the space are CRS and CLR. I've supported the latter in the past, but they are currently not funding constraint. I've been impressed with the work of CRS thus far and their plans for the future (I've had the chance to discuss this with other donors in the space and have a Q&A session with CRS staff).
  • Pour Demain, 7k CHF: This is a new organization that aims to implement effective policy interventions in Switzerland focusing (also) on long-term risks like pandemic preparedness or AI safety. Their model seems plausible and I trust their founder.
  • GiveWell's Maximum Impact fund, 3k CHF. This was primarily to be able to advocate for GiveWell charities at work which I think is a much easier sell than the other organizations.

Two main places this year:

1) My employer gives £8k of matching funds, so I spent that on the GiveWell Maximum Impact Fund. I like this because: a) it gives me something obviously good to recommend to my colleagues to do with their matching. b) I like for some of my donations to go to things which are obviously good. c) I cannot give these funds to non-charities.

2) My other target this year was slightly different. I've been funding work around land use/housing policy reform in the UK. Nearing £30k given here so far. Primarily this is due to the arguments outlined in this excellent Founders Pledge report (this article is also a great summary) - so I won't go over too many of the basic arguments here.

IMO housing policy reform:

  • Would address a huge problem for the UK economy
  • Is currently on the government's agenda in a way that it hasn't been in years
  • Has a proposal with a real chance of success - Street Votes - (FAQ) - endorsed by the housing minister
  • Is underfunded in the UK (in the US Open Phil funds a lot of work)

I've been donating to London YIMBY and PricedOutUK so far. Funds are largely being used to write policy papers, with a bit used for running costs/campaigning as well. Neither of these are charities, but I think that tax-deductibility isn't a must.

I see this cause as an example of "Hits-based" giving. It isn't at all certain that marginal donations will help get the proposed policy implemented, or that the policy will help once implemented. But the gains are such that a hit would be a big deal. I believe that donations here have the potential for large gains for relatively little money, and so probably meet the "x100" bar for donations (and maybe the x1000).

I also see this as a case of being an "angel investor", in that I am supporting very small organisations that may or may not scale up in the future. I'm also developing some connections such that I hopefully can recognise strong opportunities in this area in the future.


I intend to write up my thoughts on this as a cause area as a proper blog post at some point, but feel free to challenge me in the comments 🙂

Edit to add: blog post

2021 donations in USD:

10k to Against Malaria Foundation (which was further matched 1:1)
3.5k to Cellular Agriculture Australia (which was further matched 1:1)
3.5k to Medito Foundation (non profit mindfulness app)

Reasoning - majority to a proven high impact organization,  then smaller amounts to new projects that have high potential in reducing animal suffering (CellAgAu have helped several new CellAg startups get off the ground) and improving human mental wellbeing (Medito has millions of downloads already)

Next year plan to donate more, at least 20% of income, divided mostly between global health/wellbeing and longtermist projects, with remainder for speculative new EA entrepreneurship projects. 

 

This year I donated
 - 10k€ to the EA Funds Donor Lottery, like Josh.
I believe the effects of small donations to established charities are very linear, since I don't have insider knowledge for small funding opportunities a donor lottery really seems the best option.
 - ~12k€ to GiveWell top charities.
Only because I didn't know about the donor lottery at the time.
 - ~100€ to Doctors Without borders as convenient long distance presents to friends.

I've been trying to split my donations evenly between Good Food Institute and The Humane League, because animal welfare is my primary cause area. I've given about $2500 to each in 2021.

My random giving in 2021 was composed of:

$5 monthly donation to NPR, which I increased to $8/month around a month ago

A few donations ( I think it added up to around $50) to Women's March.

A donation of $5 to EWG.

When using my debit card at the store, a few times I noticed a question asking me if I would like to donate. It might have been for a hospital or something related to feeding hungry/poor people. I never researched more about the cause. I would guess that nearly all of the times I donated around $1.

Occasionally, I gave some cash and/or snacks to homeless people.

My giving does not have much of a strategy behind it. With regards to NPR, Women's March, and EWG, my motivation was to see them continue doing the work that I think is important (informing the public, tackling the problem of discrimination, freedom, and inequity, and doing research on what products in the marketplace may be unhealthy/unsafe.

At the cash register, I reason that I have no noble plans for the dollar that I end up giving, so I might as well give it to someone who at least is trying to support a noble cause. Obviously, this way of reasoning is not sustainable and flawed.

I give to homeless people because I figure many other people like me will give to them. Over the day, this amount will add up and hopefully the individual will use the money in a useful way.