Effective giving

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A number of recent proposals have detailed EA reforms. I have generally been unimpressed with these - they feel highly reactive and too tied to attractive sounding concepts (democratic, transparent, accountable) without well thought through mechanisms. I...

8Dustin Moskovitz1d
My decision criteria would be whether the chosen grants look likely to be better than OPs own grants in expectation. (n.b. I don't think comparing to the grants people like least ex post is a good way to do this). So ultimately,  I wouldn't be willing to pre-commit large dollars to such an experiment. I'm open-minded that it could be better, but I don't expect it to be, so that would violate the key principle of our giving. Re: large costs to small-scale experiments, it seems notable that those are all costs incurred by the community rather than $ costs. So if the community believes in the ROI, perhaps they are worth the risk?
Because the donor lottery weights by donation size, the Benefactor or a large earning-to-give donor are much more likely to win than someone doing object-level work who can only afford a smaller donation. Preferences will still get funded in proportion to the financial resources of each donor, so the preferences of those with little money remain almost unaccounted for (even though there is little reason to think they wouldn't do as well as the more likely winners). Psychologically, I can understand why the current donor lottery would be unappealing to most smaller donors.  Weighting by size is necessary if you want to make the donor lottery trustless -- because a donor's EV is the same as if they donated to their preferred causes directly, adding someone who secretly wants to give to a cat rescue doesn't harm other donors. But if you employ methods of verifying trustworthiness, a donor lottery doesn't have to be trustless. Turning the pot over to a committee of lottery winners, rather than a single winner, would further increase confidence that the winners would make reasonable choices. Thus, one moderate step toward amplifying the preferences of those with less money would be a weighted donor lottery -- donors would get a multiplier on their monetary donation amount based on how much time-commitment skin in the game they had. Of course, this would require other donors to accept a lower percentage of tickets than their financial contribution percentage, which would be where people or organizations with a lot of money would come in. The amount of funding directed by of Open Phil (and formerly, FTX) has caused people to move away from earning-to-give, which reduced the supply of potential entrants who would be willing to accept a significantly lower share of tickets per dollar than smaller donors. So I would support large donors providing some funds to a weighted donor lottery in a way that boosts the winning odds -- either solo or as part of a committee -- for dono

openbook.fyi is a new website where you can see ~4,000 EA grants from donors including Open Phil, FTX Future Fund, and EA Funds in a single place.


If you're a donor: OpenBook shows you how much orgs have...

3Rachel Weinberg2d
Thanks for letting me know, should be fixed now.

UPDATE 2 FEBRUARY 2023: I've updated a new and streamlined version of the FI-lanthropy Calculatorbased on the comments of many. 


I am soliciting feedback on a tool I have made entitled the "FI-lanthropy Calculator". The target audience includes...

3Marcus Daniell10h
I love this Rebecca!  The only thing I'd want to see changed is to add a pledge % cell into the FI table at the top, so you can play around with the percentage right from the start. I'm assuming people visiting the calculator will have at least some idea of what they're about to look at.

Project for Awesome (P4A) is a charitable initiative running February 17th-19th this year (2023), and videos must be submitted by 11:59am (noon) Eastern time on Wednesday, February 15th. This is a good opportunity to raise money for...

I've been keeping an overview of the public effective giving ecosystem that I thought would be worth sharing in its own post (I've previously referred to it here). I've noticed people often aren't aware of many of...

3Joel Tan (CEARCH)6d
Hi Sjir - will definitely be looking to put out funding opportunities for specific charities (whether a CE incubatee of one of our ideas, if that happens, or other existing organizations working in areas our research identified as impactful). In terms of timeline, probably 2H/2023 or else early next year - not too certain on this!
Ok, sounds good, I've added you to the list; looking forward to what CEARCH will come up with!

This post summarizes a Founders Pledge shallow investigation on direct communications links (DCLs or "hotlines") between states as global catastrophic risks interventions. As a shallow investigation, it is a rough attempt at understanding an issue, and is...

7Greg S4d
TL;DR of the below post is that I agree with the brief remarks about 1.5 Track Dialogues made in the Founders Pledge document you cite at f/n 68. I'd like to cheerlead briefly for a diversity of channels. That is, sometimes we'll see countries put a public freeze on one another where the most senior and high-profile figures (presidents, prime ministers, foreign affairs ministers etc) don't talk to each other for reasons of posturing over an issue.  In countries where there isn't a diversity of channels (by which I mean, most interactions occur between those most senior officials and a formal diplomatic channel), this can create risky situations because there's no longer a way to clarify (that is, communications become indirect via the oblique public statements, and prone to cross-cultural and other confusion). "Hotlines" are less relevant in this situation because the point of the posturing is that the countries aren't talking to one another. Picking up the hotline would be off-message.  What reduces risk in that situation is a diversity of channels. The post discussed diplomatic channels, and I won't repeat that. We also often think about a 'back channel' in the sense of a confidant of one leader talking to a confidant of another leader - a proxy conversation that allows the posturing to continue but some more direct communication to occur. And that can help (appreciating the clarity and timeliness points made in your post). The key thing I'd add to that point (in support of the points raised about track 2) is at-level connections within a bureaucracy (and to a lesser extent people-to-people connections). That is, where lots of officials in a country know their counterpart in the other country, a formal diplomatic freeze is of much less practical concern because the bulk of all those at-level communications means each country remains pretty much in tune with what the other is doing (there isn't likely to be a spiral of miscommunication because, when the preside

GWWC lists StrongMinds as a “top-rated” charity. Their reason for doing so is because Founders Pledge has determined they are cost-effective in their report into mental health.

I could say here, “and that report was written in 2019...

I’m belatedly making an overall comment about this post.  I think this was a valuable contribution to the discussion around charity evaluation. We agree that StrongMinds’ figures about their effect on depression are overly optimistic. We erred by not pointing this out in our previous work and not pushing StrongMinds to cite more sensible figures. We have raised this issue with StrongMinds and asked them to clarify which claims are supported by causal evidence.  There are some other issues that Simon raises, like social desirability bias, that I think are potential concerns. The literature we reviewed in our StrongMinds CEA (page 26 [https://www.happierlivesinstitute.org/report/strongminds-cost-effectiveness-analysis/]) doesn’t suggest it’s a large issue, but I only found one study that directly addresses this in a low-income country (Haushofer et al., 2020 [https://www.nber.org/papers/w28106]), so the evidence appears very limited here (but let me know if I’m wrong). I wouldn’t be surprised if more work changed my mind on the extent of this bias. However, I would be very surprised if this alone changed the conclusion of our analysis. As is typically the case, more research is needed. Having said that, I have a few issues with the post and see it as more of a conversation starter than the end of the conversation. I respond to a series of quotes from the original post below. If there's confusion about our methodology, that’s fair, and I’ve tried to be helpful in that regard. Regarding our relationship with StrongMinds, we’re completely independent.  This is false. As we’ve explained before [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/uY5SwjHTXgTaWC85f/don-t-just-give-well-give-wellbys-hli-s-2022-charity?commentId=e2PyZq2hFqzLEdgdp], our evaluation of StrongMinds is primarily based on a meta-analysis of psychological interventions in LMICs, which is a distinction between our work and Founders Pledge that means that many of the problems mentioned apply less to our wo

The Joshua Greene and Lucius Caviola article about their givingmultiplier.org work has just been published. Here's the abstract:

The most effective charities are hundreds of times more impactful than typical charities. However, most donors favor charities with personal/emotional


A recent post by Simon_M argued that StrongMinds should not be a top recommended charity (yet), and many people seemed to agree. While I think Simon raised several useful points regarding StrongMinds, he didn't engage with the cost-effectiveness analysis of...

I have no right to ask for this, but for comment sections that really get into the weeds technically (and on issues one would expect to be action-relevant for other members of the community), it would be great to have a fairly short, neutral, accessible writeup once the conversation has died down. I suspect there are a number of readers whose statistical background and abilities are not significantly better than mine (I have some graduate research training in sociology, but it was nearly half a lifetime ago). On the other hand, it's not reasonable to ask commenters to write their technically-oriented comments in a way that is accessible to people like me. At present, I think those of us with less technical sophistication are left with something like "There are issues with HLI's methodology, but the extent to which those issues materially affect the bottom line is a subject of disagreement." Maybe that's all that could be said neutrally anyway, and people like me just have to read the comments and draw what conclusions we can? 
Fair point! I'll try to to summarize things from my perspective once things have settled a bit more. 
That's so reasonable. I think that we can all agree that the analysis was done in an atypical way (perhaps for good reason), that it was not as rigorous as many people expected, and that it had a series of omissions or made atypical analytical moves that (perhaps inadvertently) made SM look better than it will look once that stuff is addressed. I don't think anyone can speak yet to the magnitude of the adjustment when the analysis is done better or in a standard way.  But I'd welcome especially Joel's response to this question. It's a critical question and it's worth hearing his take.

The idea of effective altruism has taken a lot of negative publicity recently due to its association with FTX. But has this backlash extended to orgs like GiveWell, Animal Charity Evaluators, and Giving Green that aren't as closely associated with FTX?

50Answer by Karolis Ramanauskas6d
I've been tracking how many new GWWC pledges are taken each month using this Colab for a while: https://colab.research.google.com/drive/1BR8nrIAVy7BdD7DpmMZ9CdcQZzBoHfUm?usp=sharing [https://colab.research.google.com/drive/1BR8nrIAVy7BdD7DpmMZ9CdcQZzBoHfUm?usp=sharing] Using this single data point, the picture is mixed I'd say, especially once you consider that What We Owe The Future came out in August 2022 and recession fears started at a similar time. There is also some seasonality of pledging around January, so I did year over year % change for 2021-22: Not including January 2023 yet, as it's not over and it also takes some time for people to show up on the list after they take the pledge. There is a longer term plot in the Colab, but it's too ugly to post here and I'm too lazy to fix it. If someone could make a nicer looking bar chart, I would appreciate it.

Giving What We Can members have pledged to donate at least 10% of what they earn to help others as best they can, but this is broader than it was originally. The pledge was specific to global poverty, and only...

1Lucas S.17h
Interesting — that’s not how I would have read that language.  I would have instead said that this phrase clarifies that the person pledging will repeatedly identify the most effective organizations, rather than just identifying the best organization(s) once at the time of the pledge and then donating to those entities throughout their life.

I apologize in advance for asking the EA forum to help us activate a campaign, but because I believe this to be an effective, new and interesting way to build the community and get more incremental money...

Epistemic status: speculative

This is a response to recent posts including Doing EA Better and The EA community does not own its donors' money. In order to make better funding decisions, some EAs have called for democratizing EA's funding systems....

I agree that this is tricky to do, because the processes aren't so well publicly documented. (Not that they should be - funders providing information about their processes make them more gameable, as most government funding is!)  I do think that you could have asked more people with knowledge of the process to review the post, and also think that the Survival and Flourishing Fund documents what they do pretty clearly, including both their writeup, and at least one forum post by a reviewer documenting it pretty extensively.
At a pinch, I would say review might be more worthwhile for topics where the work builds on a well-developed but pre-existing body of research. So, funding a graduate to take time to learn about AI Safety full-time as a bridge to developing a project probably wouldn't benefit from a review, but an application to develop a very specific project based on a specific idea probably would. I don't have a sense on how often five-to-low-six-figure grants involve very specific ideas. If you told me they usually don't, I would definitely update against thinking a peer review would be useful in those circumstances.
I have no idea, to be honest. My belief that smaller grants might not be the best trial run for cost-effectiveness is based more on assumptions that (1) highly qualified reviewers might not think reviewing grants in that range is an effective use of their time; and (2) very quick reviews are likely to identify only clearly erroneous exercises of grantmaking discretion. Either assumption could be wrong! But I think at that grant size, the cost-effectiveness profile might be more favorable for a system of peer review under specified circumstances rather than as a automatic practice. Knowing that they were only being asked when there was a greater chance their assistance might be outcome-determinative might help with attracting quality reviewers too.

I have an undergraduate degree in Finance and Marketing. I wish to find new projects tackling top problems and redirect investments towards these projects/ventures. My innate interest in Fundraising is what draws me towards working for a...

Briefly, I've started my career with volunteering in an EA aligned org. My interest in VC and start-ups grew in final year at my undergrad university. I now believe that the career capital gained after working for VC firms could be beneficial for any EA org or non-profits in general. You've rightly pointed out what the priority should be as of now. Thanks!

One of the roles of Giving What We Can (GWWC) is to help its members and other interested people figure out where to give. If you go to their site and click " start giving" they list charitable funds, including GiveWell's All...

15Luke Freeman23d
Yep - Jeff's pretty much captured it all here. GWWC's mission is to "make giving effectively and significantly a cultural norm" and the pledge plays a big part in that, as does advocating for and educating about effective giving. Supporting donors/members in giving effectively has always been a part of GWWC but what that's looked like has changed over the years (from very detailed charity evaluation through to just linking off to GiveWell/ACE/EA Funds when there was no one working full time on GWWC).
Thanks for the clarification! I took the pledge in 2016 which coincided with when the research department disbanded per Jeff's comment. I think that explains why I perceived GWWC to not be in the business of doing evaluations. Glad to see "evaluate the evaluators" is working its way back in.

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