agdfoster

CEO, Veddis Foundation

Comments

Some (Rough) Thoughts on the Value of Campaign Contributions

This was helpful research for something I needed - thank you

EA Meta Fund Grants – July 2020

High-impact, for simplicity, (they have a very large total number of grants) is set just as the rough status quo of groups on GiveWell, funded by Open Phil, ACE charities etc., FP manage their own list and we >90% are in agreement on what is in that list. None of the largest grants in the list are groups we feel conflicted about.

In an ideal world we would of course evaluate every group their pledgers have counterfactually funded but that's not really tractable. And we try to only use their quantitative outcomes as one of several signals as to how well they're doing (it's very tempting to fall into a rabbit hole of data analysis for a group with such clear and measurable first order outcomes)

EA Meta Fund Grants – July 2020

FP aren't a straight forward advisory group, they have a pledge and a community, so the $19m is the total to high-impact charities within their pledger community. FP's research team have attempted to estimate which of those donations happened as a result of FP advisory / marketing work, which is hard, and as with any self-reporting, open to becoming a KPI that ends up drifting and becoming misreported. My current view of the FP individuals that did this estimate work though is that they have high intellectual honesty and thoroughness, that they are aware of their own misincentives and when I spot-checked a number of their figures in 2018-19 they were good estimates, perhaps even on the conservative side.

EA Meta Fund Grants – July 2020

I agree with Denise. Although it's worth noting that our bar for a mentorship program worth funding does have to be quite high.

EA Meta Fund Grants – July 2020

+1. A major factor is also that writing tastefully and responsibly about the things we are concerned about with an organisation would probably more than double or triple the size of all our write-ups. I'd expect the amount of time it took us to carefully think through those write-ups would be much higher than for the main writeup and we would be more likely to make mistakes which resulted in impact destruction.

Where a concern is necessarily part of the narrative for the decision or it feels like it's very important and can easily be shared with confidence, I think we have. But generally it's not necessary for the argument, and we stick to the default policy.

Growth and the case against randomista development

I wish forum authors would avoid framing their arguments as "us vs them". It makes me spend far more time engaging with the piece than I would have rationally chose to!

Thanks again for the valuable thought provocation anyway though :)

Growth and the case against randomista development

Hm, just found the appendix mentioned in 5.3 - so never mind! I think I'm persuaded that it's likely very valuable looking for opportunities.

Growth and the case against randomista development

Good to see some of these arguments making their way into EA analysis!

Given the number of economists, the number of countries and that there does seem to be relatively wide agreement behind some important economic policies: are there lists floating around of remaining low-hanging fruit for economic policy changes in certain countries?

I would have thought that there are just so many economists, think tanks etc., and people keen to make money/prestige off of advising governments on how to run their economy, that most those remaining low-hanging fruit policy changes are stuck where they are for some very-hard-to-change reason.

Which Community Building Projects Get Funded?

Yes that's right, thanks Julia and apologies for any confusion. I use the term differently to how the OP has used it. We are still looking at anything that falls outside of the remit of CBG but are unable to offer the level of vetting and direct support that we think is necessary to fund local groups well and so are funding that via CBG. We have still been looking at special projects by local groups that fall outside of the remit of CBG also.

Which Community Building Projects Get Funded?

Thanks for sharing this! I’m on the meta fund team and open to feedback.

First I want to quickly flag that we no longer do community building grants due to their complexity and instead intend to fund CEA CBG. Community building projects are very hard to properly evaluate, track and support and I applaud CEAs team for working so hard at this. However, at each round CBG sends us a proposal on what additional funding can achieve in terms of fulfilling existing commitments and new applications, to help inform our funding decision to them (if any).

Addressing the sourcing-through-networks point, I just went through our early stage grants in the last year quickly and it looks like the majority were people we met through our various funding processes as opposed to people we knew already. Late stage grants we did of course have connections to already but I think that’s to be expected, and these organisations are quite well known in any case.

We could say that people don’t apply because they haven’t heard of us, that could be true. Thanks for the idea to share to FB groups and newsletter, we will try that and see if it affects application quality. We are very keen for more applications and any suggestions most welcome.

There’s a separate question of secondary network effects like people getting better talent, better mentoring and stronger referrals based on geographical networks. I won’t address that here now but can have a go if interesting.

I can only speak for myself but I think we already have a slightly lower bar for funding project proposals in further flung locations and I’m not convinced it would be worth it to lower it further.

I could imagine a scenario where it became clear we were missing lots of really strong opportunities further afield but I'd be surprised we weren't seeing more signs of it already with many strong projects appearing just through the application forms and intros. The very very early stage work of getting local groups going and that sort of thing falls outside of what the Meta Fund can realistically include within its remit. We also don't have so much funding that funding projects without clear merit for the sake of stimulating growth in a region would make sense any time soon.

I do think ideally we would have a Bay Area based committee member. Peter M was there until earlier this year and we are all fairly well connected there.

Thanks again

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