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What is the financial size of the Effective Altruism movement?

by deluks9171 min read30th Aug 20205 comments

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I am looking for any reasonable estimate of the total amount of funding controlled by the EA movement on a yearly basis. It is fine to operationalize this question in any reasonable way. I would be interested in any estimates people have as long as they are clear about their assumptions. I do want to be clear that I am not interested in 'how much total money goes to EA charities'. I am only interested in the total amount of funding that comes from EA sources. So please focus on the sources of funding, not just the targets. I am aware these numbers have changed year to year.

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One source of information for this might be the 2019 EA Survey, which analyzed self-reported data for about 2500 EAs. Our prior analysis found that EAs in the survey reported total donations of $16.1M USD in 2018.

We didn't report raw income data, but it looks like the sum of self-reported annual income in our EA Survey sample is $116M USD.

Of course this is likely a large underestimate of the total financial firepower of EA ...for one, it ignores OpenPhil, which donates tens of millions of dollars a year and has the capacity to donate much more

...for two, there are probably another several tens of millions in annual donations by high net worth individuals who affiliate with EA somewhat but don't fill out the EA Survey, though if you keep looking into this eventually though you will get into difficult debates about who counts as EA or not.

Open Phil donates about $250m per year (they publish almost all their grants).

About $80m per year is given on the basis of GiveWell's recommendations (from their annual reports).

There's a bunch more but I think that accounts for the majority.

Animal Charity Evaluators lists its influenced donations in 2019 as $8.9 million. You can see a breakdown of this in ACE's 2019 Giving Metrics Report, which shows that only $7.1 million of this went toward the top recommended charities. I would put $7.1 million as the upper bound on EA-sourced money that was influenced by ACE toward direct animal charities. But ACE also took in $1.0 million in donations as operating expenses, the majority of which came from EA sources. So, in total, I'd give $8.1 million as an upper bound of funding from EA sources that filtered through ACE.

Keep in mind that if you get numbers from other EA orgs that deal with animal org funding, you might not be able to add their numbers to ACE's numbers, because you might end up double counting. For example, ACE received a grant of $325k from Open Philanthropy in 2019, so that amount would be double counted if you included both that grant and the operating expenses of ACE additively.

I estimate $263 Million as of 2020.