Update: This project has been funded by an EA Funds grant. I am actively working on it-if you are interested in helping out, send me a message.
I am considering setting up a charity. Its goals are:
- To help effective altruists in financial need by giving back part of their donations
- To promote large donations to EA-related causes by providing donors with a safety net, minimizing risk
- To foster a healthy EA community
To achieve this, the charity maintains an emergency fund. If effective altruists are in financial trouble, they can recoup up to 50% of their EA-related donations from that fund.
The charity might act as a proxy for effective charites. That is, if you donate $100 to the charity, we will put $10 in the shared emergency fund and forward $90 to GiveWell. Then, if you ever need $50 back, we can easily verify that you donated $100 in total. Update: this will likely not be feasible.
As a fraud prevention measure, donors will have to get their charity to state to us that they will never return any funds to the donor, and we will need a confirmation of the exact amount they donated.
If our balance gets low, we might ask for donations that go entirely to the fund. If we cannot help everyone who needs help, we will proactively raise funds wherever we can.
The recoupment process will be similar to filing an insurance claim, but less strict. If someone who donated through the fund asks for a fraction of what they donated in total, they will probably get their money back without any friction. We do not have to worry about fraud as much as insurers, because donors can only recoup half of what they originally donated.
As far as I know, this type of charity does not exist yet, and there are a lot of things that still need to be figured out. More extensive discussion can be found here (me) and here (Alicorn). Note that both linked essays discuss a fund that only offers support to contributors (excluding direct donors). I no longer think that is desirable, and it will be very difficult to convince governments to grant such a construction tax-exempt status.