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TL;DR: The Forum will host a number of events during Giving Season 2023, including a big donation election, weekly themes, and more. 

I’m sharing these plans in advance so that you can start thinking about how you want to participate, and to get feedback on the ideas. 

Please note that the dates and plans are tentative and might change.

Some context

Effective giving is a core part of effective altruism and I hope Giving Season on the Forum this year could be a useful reminder. Key goals for this event are to facilitate high-quality conversations about effective giving, help impactful projects get funding this Giving Season,[1] and increase expected funding for impactful projects going forward.[2]

1. Donation Election — voting on how to distribute a fund

We’ll soon open a Donation Election Fund, to which anyone will be able to contribute and which will be partially matched. Then we’ll have a Donation Election to decide how that fund should be distributed. 

Tentative mock-up for part of the Donation Election page. 

Approximate timeline for the Donation Election (and more details): 

  • Fund: In a week or two, we’ll open a Donation Election Fund (and announce that we’re matching the first ~$5000 donated to this fund).
  • Candidates: We’ll also add some “candidates” — specific EA projects (via Giving What We Can). You will be able to add candidates if the ones you’d vote for are missing.[3]
  • Discussion: Meanwhile, we’ll encourage people to write posts or short arguments on why they plan on voting for particular candidates — and why others should, too, presumably.
  • Voting opens: Around December 1, Forum users[4] will start voting for candidates (most likely via approval voting) they think the funds should go to. 
  • Voting closes: Around December 15, we’ll close voting and determine the three winning candidates[5] (and move the funds). We’ll also try to write a post reflecting on the election in the week or two after that.

Of course, you can always just donate directly to the candidates — or to other projects. But I think it would be interesting to see what the Forum chooses, and I hope that the event will prompt good discussions on cost-effectiveness and resurface classic important considerations for effective giving. 

2. Mini-events: themed weeks

To encourage more high-quality discussion about effective giving (and to help inform voting in the Donation Election), we’ll run ~three mini-events around themes (effective giving spotlight, marginal funding week, estimating cost-effectiveness). These will be organized a bit like the Career Conversations Week; we’ll pre-announce them (more formally than here), we’ll have banners, we’ll solicit some posts and AMAs in advance, and we’ll invite all of you to participate. 

Please comment or reach out if you have feedback on these plans!

Example timeline for Giving Season.

A. Effective giving spotlight: growing the amount of funding going to effective projects aimed at improving the world 

Tentative dates: November 7-14

We’ll invite people to share their experiences with effective giving and fundraising, discuss important uncertainties or considerations, etc. We’ll also probably organize AMAs with people earning to give and those involved in fundraising or running effective giving organizations. (If you’re in one of these groups and are interested in participating, please consider reaching out or commenting on this post!) 

B. Marginal funding week: how would your project use extra funding? 

Tentative dates: November 14-21

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[6] — 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. 

C. Estimating cost-effectiveness: discussing where our donations should go

Tentative dates: November 21-28.

It can be hard to get good estimates of the actual impact (and cost-effectiveness) of different interventions, but discussing donation choice or cause prioritization without numbers can lead people to talk past each other. So even rough estimates (like “back of the envelope calculations” — BOTECs) can be useful — if only to give other people a concrete assumption or argument to disagree with. 

We’ll encourage people to share as many cost-effectiveness estimates as possible (including rough estimates), we’ll feature some classic writing on the topic, and we might have some relevant AMAs.

3. Featuring other ways to donate on the “giving portal”

We also just want to raise funding for effective projects during Giving Season, and we’ll try to make that easy on the Donation Election page and elsewhere. (I’d be excited to see posts like: “I’m donating to X and here’s why I think you should, too.”)

I’m hoping that hosting this on the Forum will help make donation opportunities more visible (and will get something like social buy-in by featuring how much we’ve collectively donated via the Forum, which might prompt some people to give even if they’d not have considered it), will put donation opportunities closer to good discussions of where people should actually donate, and will be a useful experiment (we’ll see how useful it is to feature donation opportunities on the Forum).

Let us know what you think (and start thinking about how you want to participate)!

Just as a reminder: these plans and dates might change.

A Midjourney image we might use in various places. 
  1. ^

    Many projects are funding-constrained right now.

  2. ^

    By boosting the salience of effective giving and important related considerations, encouraging people to think about ways they can raise funding, and more. 

  3. ^

    They’ll have to be projects that Giving What We Can features (or mixed-fundraisers), as otherwise things get technically really difficult. If the projects you think are most cost-effective aren't on GWWC, I'd love to see posts encouraging readers to donate to them directly!

    Additionally, we might require a minimum of $100 in the fundraiser for a project to get added as a candidate, and if we end up getting more than ~20 candidates, we might cut some off (potentially based on how much the fundraisers in question have already raised) to avoid confusion. 

    We’ll also add a specific deadline for adding candidates.

  4. ^

    Only users who had an account as of October 22, 2023 will be able to vote, unfortunately. We’ve had to add this restriction to avoid election manipulation (we’ll also be monitoring in other ways). We realize that this limits genuine new users’ ability to vote, but we hope those users can participate in other ways, like by encouraging others to vote for or donate to candidates.

  5. ^

    The funds will be split proportionally between the top 3 winners, based on how many votes they got. 

  6. ^

    Anecdotally, this post was very useful for getting people to donate and useful for estimating the LTFF's cost-effectiveness. 

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Quick poll: Agree-vote on this comment if you would donate some amount to the Donation Election Fund. Disagree-vote if you wouldn't. 

I'm most interested in the number of people who would donate (as opposed to the fraction or number of people who wouldn't),[1] but disagree-votes will be helpful to calibrate myself on how many people saw this comment.

  1. ^

    If I conclude that out of everyone who sees an announcement about the fund, 3/4 wouldn't donate to the fund (while 1/4 would), I'd view that as a pretty positive update on how promising the Donation Election plan is (a lot of people would see an announcement about it). Absolute funding/interest matters, not whether most people would donate. (If this comment gets very few votes, I'll probably just not view it as a serious update in any direction.) 

I've also created two Manifold Markets to see if we can get some info on how the match would affect this event: 



This looks great, thank you for doing work to increase excitement about effective giving further!

For those interested, I created a Manifold market for the Donation Election, where people can add their own charities and bets on how the funds will be distributed.

Thanks team for all your work on this! I'm excited for it!!

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