Introducing an EA Donation Registry

by Tom_Ash3rd Oct 201413 comments

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One of the most important messages of effective altruism is that you can do a phenomenal amount of good through well-chosen donations. As a community, EAs also further this goal by publicly establishing a norm of giving to effective charities, making their own commitments to do so and encouraging others. With this in mind, we’ve created an EA Donation Registry through which people can share plans to donate (of any form, and to any cause), as well as record past donations that they’ve made.

If you’ve donated to effective charities in the past or have plans to do so, then we’d encourage you to sign up. (Or if you already described your past or planned donations in the 2014 EA Survey, you can simply convert these to a registry entry instead.) Peter Hurford’s post To Inspire People to Give, Be Public About Your Giving succinctly describes some of the familiar reasons for doing so - it shows that giving large amounts to effective charities is something that people actually do, providing social proof and normalising and encouraging this, particularly among peer groups. We also hope that it can serve as a gentle prompt to action and commitment device, although understanding that plans change we’ve given donors the ability to edit them at any time - it'd be both expected and understood that many will do so. This a registry of plans, not necessarily pledges.

You can already see hundreds of EAs’ past and planned donations on the registry. There’s some inspiring material there, from the over $40 million that Jim Greenbaum has given over his lifetime, to the many people aiming to donate substantial portions of their income, such as Peter Singer

We created this registry partly in response to requests for a cause neutral venue for donation plans. For example, you can use it to see people donating to animal charities or existential risk alleviation. People concerned with animal welfare are pointed to it by Animal Charity Evaluators, taking the place of this functionality in the old Effective Animal Activism website; people reporting their donations to ACE are given the option of making them public on the registry at the same time. For people concerned with global poverty, we think that the Giving What We Can and Life You Can Save pledges are fantastic devices, with a clear message about the compelling case about giving money to those who need it most. We point people to the GWWC pledge in the hope that they can take or build up to it, while also letting them share plans of any size on the registry.

The registry is an open, community-owned project coordinated through .impact, so we’d love to hear of any uses that you might make of it, and you can also send us suggestions or feedback via our contact form. But most of all, we’d encourage you to share your past and planned donations on it for the reasons above. You can register plans of any form and size via a free text field, so take a moment to consider if there are any that you’d like to share - and if you’ve yet to think about where you might donate, we hope that this will provide a great opportunity to do so! 

See also: Introducing EA Profiles

12 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 5:06 AM
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Many thanks for help on this project to Peter Hurford, David Moss, Xio Kikauka, Joey Savoie, George O'Neill and everyone else who pitched in, commented and suggested features :)

Thanks Tom and everyone else – it looks great!

I have always found it extremely inspiring to see others who are making huge efforts to change the world! Also like the fact it's community owned :)

Update: spotted this featured in the sidebar of the https://www.facebook.com/groups/EffectiveAnimalActivism/ making it a good go-to place for animal welfare donors for sure.

The "Until I die" option strikes me as fanatical. Does anyone else think that it would be a good idea to rephrase this option differently, e.g. "As long as I can"?

For my lifetime captures the meaning of until I die without the fanaticism

Good suggestion Ryan, I've scheduled myself to switch the option to 'Throughout my life' - having this sort of brainstorming on the forum is helpful.

Ha, I see what you mean. The thing is that several people's plans do take this form, but the wording does sound slightly odd (perhaps because of the reference to death, or because doing things 'to the death' has associations with extremity or radicalism?). I'm open to another phrasing, but "as long as I can" means something different. It's actually weaker than "until I retire".

That said, "as long as I can" may be a good separate option to provide. Do others think so/would others declare plans phrased in those terms? If so I'll add it as a preset option. (Note that you can already specify your own until-condition via the free text "other" option.)

I have some "I would like a pony"-style feature requests below, so I'll put my less ambitious suggestion at the start: Randomise the order of the names in the donations list (perhaps allowing an alphabetical sort), re-randomising each time someone visits the page. It's not going to be a website many of us visit regularly, but it'd be more fun if each time we went there, we saw different people's donations and plans.

I'm a little underwhelmed by the registry as it stands. The past donations are just page after page of aggregate donation totals and charity lists, presented in some fixed but strange order (ordered by when the people took the survey perhaps?). I'd like to see (while being aware that this is somewhere between annoyingly difficult and not worth the effort):

  • A sortable and filterable table of past donations
  • Recent donations (i.e., the '2013 donations' or '2014 donations') separated by charity. So, e.g, 1000 USD to AMF, 1000 USD to SCI, 100 USD to CEA.

I'd like to see the donation registry as something you could use to measure where EA donations are going and how much is being donated (only the self-selecting fillers-out-of-surveys people are going to be counted, but it'd still be interesting to me).

With all the free-form text inputs, getting the data cleaned to the point where you could sort/filer it would take a bit of ongoing work (I'd be happy to volunteer to do this data cleaning). And having donation amounts for individual charities means a re-writing of that part of the survey, and probably not as many responses. So I'm not holding my breath! But these are features that are in my imagined ideal EA donations register.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I'll put my less ambitious suggestion at the start: Randomise the order of the names in the donations list (perhaps allowing an alphabetical sort), re-randomising each time someone visits the page. It's not going to be a website many of us visit regularly, but it'd be more fun if each time we went there, we saw different people's donations and plans.

This is a good idea, I'll likely do that. The EA Profiles allow that sorting, so it wouldn't take that long to apply it to the registry.

The past donations are just page after page of aggregate donation totals and charity lists, presented in some fixed but strange order (ordered by when the people took the survey perhaps?).

Yes, Peter Hurford and I have talked about how we could present this better. The order's arbitrary, and comes from the order in which I created entries - e.g. I added Peter Singer and Jim Greenbaum's early on, because I found them so interesting/inspiring, and so they went to the top.

A sortable and filterable table of past donations

Good idea, I'll add this.

Recent donations (i.e., the '2013 donations' or '2014 donations') separated by charity. So, e.g, 1000 USD to AMF, 1000 USD to SCI, 100 USD to CEA.

I'll try to add this too.

I'd like to see the donation registry as something you could use to measure where EA donations are going and how much is being donated (only the self-selecting fillers-out-of-surveys people are going to be counted, but it'd still be interesting to me).

Yep, that would be a good use for it. Hopefully many of those who donate significant amounts will be the sort of people who self-select.

With all the free-form text inputs, getting the data cleaned to the point where you could sort/filer it would take a bit of ongoing work (I'd be happy to volunteer to do this data cleaning).

David Moss has already done a bit of work on this, but that's a kind offer and I may get in touch with you.

A sortable and filterable table of past donations

Good idea, I'll add this

I really like Data tables which I use in the Job Board.

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With all the free-form text inputs, getting the data cleaned to the point where you could sort/filer it would take a bit of ongoing work (I'd be happy to volunteer to do this data cleaning).

David Moss has already done a bit of work on this, but that's a kind offer and I may get in touch with you.

Depending on how much you, pappubahry, and David Moss value your time, it would be better to do this data cleaning via Mechanical Turk, where someone will do it for minimum wage.

Also, I've already converted all the donations into USD if you're interested in standardizing that.

I'll put my less ambitious suggestion at the start: Randomise the order of the names in the donations list (perhaps allowing an alphabetical sort), re-randomising each time someone visits the page. It's not going to be a website many of us visit regularly, but it'd be more fun if each time we went there, we saw different people's donations and plans.

I've just created full alphabetical lists of everyone with public donation plans and past donations.