Director of Operations at Rethink Priorities.

I previously co-founded and served as Executive Director at Wild Animal Initiative and one of its predecessor organizations, Utility Farm. I also ran corporate animal welfare campaigns for Mercy For Animals.

I run a monthly newsletter on invertebrate welfare. Archives are here: https://www.invertebratewelfare.org/newsletter


How are resources in EA allocated across issues?

I think this is likely true for animal welfare too. For example, looking at animal welfare organizations funded by Open Phil, and thinking about my own experience working at/with groups funded by them, I'd guess that under 10% of employees at a lot of the bigger orgs (THL, GFI) engage with non-animal EA content at all, and a lot fewer than that fill out the EA survey.

Research Topics in Nonprofit Operations

Here are some ideas that I think would be useful (or at least, I would definitely read), from first to last in order of how excited I would be to read them:

  • Developing a tangible, scalable framework for doing project management and tracking for research teams. The software that exists for this seems insufficient and spreadsheets don't seem to scale well.
  • What are things that a lot of EA orgs spend a lot of money on where they could share costs instead and save money?
    • Things that come to mind: legal research (e.g. if two orgs. pay 2 separate lawyers to do the same analysis, they could have just shared that research), rent, various vendors, etc.
    • How legal / easy would this be to implement?
  • Expanding on previous research done on creating environments for high-impact research teams, and especially how operations can support  those efforts.
  • What can nonprofits do to best prepare for some proposed changes to US philanthropy rules?
Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

For what it's worth, I think there is a good case to be made that WAI is somewhere between a neartermist and longtermist organization (mediumtermist?) — e.g. this research and similar seem to be from a relatively longtermist perspective. Though I'm biased because I know that I am sympathetic to some aspects of a longtermist worldview (though obviously no longer work there), and that several of the staff there are also somewhat sympathetic to longtermism. These views might be separated from the work of the organization. And they received around 25% of the total made in this grant cycle.

Insects raised for food and feed — global scale, practices, and policy

Hi, most of the annual production information came from a combination of market research, industry publications, and estimates I built myself - the first part of the Methods section details this and links to sources when available:  https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ruFmR5oBgqLgTcp2b/insects-raised-for-food-and-feed-global-scale-practices-and#Methods

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

If you had to make some predictions about what the animal advocacy space will look like in 20 years, what would be different from today?

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

How do you go about evaluating a grant for research vs. a grant that supports direct work?

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

This is a lot more invertebrate welfare work than has been ever supported in the EA space than before (as far as I can tell).

  • Are you funding more invertebrate work because new opportunities are available, or because your minds have changed on working in this space?
  • Do you see invertebrate work becoming part of mainstream animal advocacy over the next few decades? Or, how do you see invertebrate welfare advocacy becoming part of the broader animal advocacy community in general?
Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

It looks like most of these grants fall into a few categories:

  • Highly neglected areas / research (e.g. WAI, invertebrate stuff, Rethink Priorities)
  • Non-US/Europe farmed animal work

This seems good since many groups recommended in the EA space seem to be in the US and Europe (GFI, Albert Schweitzer, Anima, etc.), so I imagine these other opportunities are especially neglected. The exception to this are the grants you made to THL UK and OBRAZ. I'd be interested in what makes these two groups such good opportunities compared to the charities typically recommended that work in the US / Europe?

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

Right now it seems like there are some really promising but risky opportunities for the EA AWF (e.g. all of insect and invertebrate stuff this grant cycle). How do you evaluate some of these more speculative or high-risk / high-return grants vs. something like corporate chicken campaigns in a neglected region, or an ACE top charity in a neglected space (e.g. Wild Animal Initiative)?

Best places to donate?

In these cases, it's likely that you're getting better returns on credit card fees than giving directly to 22 charities, but marginally worse efficiency on processing costs, since it is probably around the same processing  cost for all 22 charities, and also a processing cost at The Life You Can Save, etc.

Based on this, from a pure cost-to-programs view, I'd guess that if it is split up among at least 3 or 4 charities or more, the credit card fee benefits will outweigh the lower efficiency from the processing, so it is probably usually worth giving to something like the GiveWell maximum impact fund or TLYS, or the EA Funds, etc.

Also, I think getting all the benefits  you also get from giving via those funds, like the ones esentorella describes, makes it especially worthwhile to continue giving via those funds (e.g. their research and understanding about how to optimally redistribute the funding).

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