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This post is a continuation of my earlier “Modeling Moral Trade in Antibiotic Resistance and Alternative Proteins,” “Generating More Surplus in Moral Trades,” and “Developing Counterfactual Trust in Moral Trade.”  Here I’ll make a proposal for a specific moral trade.

I think moral trade is an underexplored topic with significant opportunity for gains.  The lowest-hanging fruit seems to be the synergy between animal welfare groups and climate groups.  Both accept alternative proteins as one of the best uses of marginal funding (GFI is a top-rated charity by both Animal Charity Evaluators and Giving Green).


I am proposing trade between funds run by these groups.  On one side, the Giving Green Fund, and on the other side, Animal Charity Evaluators Recommended Charity Fund.

The Giving Green Fund has distributed funds to its top charities twice.  The first time, this past summer, each organization received $50,000, and $50,000 was saved for later.  The second time, at the end of 2023, the funds were not evenly distributed.  They sent $100,000 to Industrious Labs, $70,000 to Good Food Institute, and $50,000 each to Good Energy Collective, Evergreen Collaborative, and Clean Air Task Force.  The justifications, with very transparent reasoning, are here and here.  So while the uneven distribution may make counterfactual trust harder to build, the clarity in the process should largely counteract that effect.

The ACE fund has consistently distributed money to top charities and standout charities, including GFI, in consistent ratios.  Recently they’ve switched to a binary recommended or not recommended status for charities, so it seems reasonable to assume that they would allocate money from the fund evenly between all of the recommended charities.

Normally high cost-effectiveness ratings would harm counterfactual trust and discourage actors from engaging in moral trade, but in this case, both funds have a fairly strong track record of systematically allocating funding, so determining the counterfactual is relatively easy.

I would advocate for both funds to redirect an additional $50,000 from their other funded nonprofits to GFI as a first moral trade.  Both can contribute an equal amount because they have roughly equal relative cost-effectiveness estimates.  I estimate that a 95 to 100% surplus should be generated from this trade (i.e. both worldviews will get 95 to 100% more moral value from those $50,000 than they would have gotten had they simply donated to the alternative top charity without trade).  You can see my calculations here.

It may make sense to make the reallocation smaller if GFI will have difficulty absorbing the marginal funding at similar levels of cost-effectiveness (though I doubt this will be the case, since they have an 8-figure budget).  Another consideration is whether the other top nonprofits were relying on an expected donation – it’s important to avoid messing up their plans.  Terms could also be negotiated based on up-to-date cost-effectiveness estimates of both GFI and the alternate top charities.  For example, Giving Green may find some of ACE’s other recommended charities to be somewhat effective, making the trade less valuable for them, and meaning that they donate less.

The value generated here will come from both the moral trade itself, and from the information value of attempting to conduct a moral trade.  A writeup about the execution may encourage others to take similar actions.

Giving Green did a quick review and was fine with my posting this, but did not have time to review it in detail before the day I scheduled to post and has not endorsed the idea.  ACE did not respond to a request for comment.  I informed both organizations that I intended to post today a week ago, on Friday, February 9.

Thanks to Quentin Mot for feedback on this post.

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:25 PM

I think this is pretty cool

Thanks Nathan!

These are interesting ideas.  It seems like there's still a lack of clarity about the magnitude of the effects of each issue on the nonhuman animal side, and therefore their relative cost-effectiveness.  But as more research is done, say on ITNs in later stages of their lifecycle and the effects of tapeworms on pigs, maybe trades could be made based on these issues!

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