All of arikagan's Comments + Replies

Great question - a negligible portion of our donors would identify as EA. I'd estimate a few hundred of our users would identify as EA at most, almost all of the other donors came in from acquisition channels completely unrelated to EA. So I'd estimate over 99% are non EA donors. Indeed, there are only about 10k EAs in the entire movement, so even if we'd somehow captured all existing EAs it would still only be about 1/4 of our donors at most.

That's a good point re: 1/4, haha. Super cool to hear. Great job.

Yeah, I basically agree with everything you said! More specifically:

  • We tested with the small nonprofits using the same hacked software we used for DBT (literally a static page with an iframe to our webapp)
  • We were in fact making financial transaction errors (e.g. double charging donors) since our database was not designed for scale, so we had to rebuild our backend. We had no in-house engineers, so we paused development until we hired engineers who have rearchitected the backend.
  • We're trying to launch with mid-sized nonprofits using the improved technology
... (read more)

Yeah, great question - I agree that this is more important than many of the questions I lay out in the FAQ (but unfortunately it's not one we're frequently asked). I agree the mobile app did not have PMF (which is why we shut it down). The vast majority of the 40k donors are from DBT (it's the largest campaign we've launched by far), so the interesting question is if we can replicate that to demonstrate PMF. 

We spent most of this last year rebuilding our technology and running campaigns with small nonprofits to see which features are needed for PMF. W... (read more)

3Yonatan Cale10mo
<3 TL;DR: My suggestion would be checking Product Market Fit without developing any significant technology, especially since you said things like "We spent most of this last year rebuilding our technology" For example: 1. Use your existing tech from the Trump campaign 2. Use your existing tech from the $280/mo orgs I imagine both have messy code (as with all startups) and require actual developer time to customize for the customers, but I think that's all ok (as long as you don't make wrong financial transactions). I'd try selling to a $1M/year nonprofit, I'd tell them "you'll be our design partners and we'll do custom development for you", and I'd try making nothing generic [] (are you trying to make tech that will be relevant for multiple customers? Maybe that's our double crux). I don't know anything about your internals so these suggestions might be totally silly for reasons I don't understand, sorry for that. I thought It's better to offer than not to. And that it would be better to put all my disclaimers here instead of in each sentence above :P I'd be happy for lots of pushback of course <3 Or maybe I misunderstood and this is already exactly what you're doing:

Makes sense! I originally just spoke about the aspirational goals, but then early reviewers asked for more explicit estimates of middle-of-the-road outcomes as well, so I added a range of possibilities. Perhaps that made it more confusing than if I'd just kept one set of estimates. 

Thanks for the thoughtful questions, I appreciate the close reading it likely took for you to understand that level of nuance. To address all of them: 

1) $500M/year:

"You change to [$500M/yr] in the main body"

Interesting, I'm wondering why you felt that was the main claim of the body?   While at one point I do give a 5% fermi estimate of $500M/yr, it's immediately followed by a 1% estimate of $5B/yr, and I never refer to $500M at any other point. I also give estimates for $11B/yr twice in the body (slightly less than $1B/mo) and estimates for $4-5... (read more)

7Yonatan Cale10mo
Hey, the main uncertainty I see with Momentum is "does it have product-market-fit except for the Trump-specific campaign", since I can imagine the Trump campaign being somewhat of an anomaly, interesting but also maybe very hard to reproduce, I don't know As far as I understand, the current things we know about product market fit are: 1. The trump campaign raised $9,300,000 (source below) 2. The mobile app raised $230K, but was closed down (which means it didn't have good product market fit, I assume) 3. "donation pages" (that are not trump related?) - this sounds very interesting! Could you say more? For example: 1. How much money did you move? 2. Is it more than the charities would have probably raised otherwise? (however you'd like to estimate this, I don't mind) 3. Did you spend money on adwords or something like that, or was it raised organically? 4. Anything else you can say about the product market fit here? And I understand this sums up to I am very interested to hear how the 40k donors spread over these projects, as well as the amount they donated, if you're ok with sharing it Source for defeat by tweet [] donations: I hope you'll have amazing product market fit and I think you'll change the world if you will @arikagan
Yeah, this is probably a cultural difference.

Ah sorry, it keeps adding my punctuation to the hyperlink! Fixed

We've explored a number of different exit strategies, although we don't really need to flesh out all of the details until later rounds. Some ideas we've thrown around:

- There's a lot of for-profit interest in fintech from groups like Intuit, Blackbaud, etc. We'd obviously need to be careful from a mission alignment point of view, but the ultimate goal (as with any social enterprise) is to bake our theory of change into the way we make money so that it is genuinely valuable from a for-profit point of view to push our mission forward. This is harder with eff... (read more)

Medium article throws a 404, FWIW.

Yeah, we're actually very excited about this possibility! I had to resist adding another 2 pages on this as a separate route towards impact because the post was already too long, although I gestured at it briefly when I mention a possible "on-ramp towards deeper involvement in EA."

As you suggest, if funding continues to grow at its current pace (and the other concerns we discuss about relying on a few funders prove incorrect), then growing the community may become a higher priority than merely increasing donation volume. While many donors won't be interest... (read more)

Great question. I actually don’t think that data will prove very useful yet, although I’d be happy to share it with you directly. We primarily found donations in the mobile app to heavily follow defaults, and intentionally didn't yet spend much time experimenting with defaults. We were struggling with donor acquisition, and the evidence was already strong that we could influence donation choices, so we turned our attention to the donation pages. We haven’t yet rolled out the new donor portal where defaults will once again become critical, but once we do, e... (read more)

100% agreed with everything you said here. We've thought through some of these scenarios you brought up but didn't want to get too bogged down in more complicated estimates in the main post. Our more in depth estimates might place it closer to 1000 breaking even, perhaps a few thousand to be very safe. Happy to discuss more in depth, but as you say it becomes less relevant once the numbers get larger.

Interesting idea! We haven't built that in yet, but I think we could build a feature that would add up your donations throughout the year and track your projected impact, but wait until Giving Tuesday to actually disburse the funds (in a way that would enable the match).

9Avi Norowitz4y
I don't think Facebook permits automated donations, so I don't think this will be feasible.

As Nick said, it would be wonderful to see follow-up studies here that try to flesh out these different aspects. We don't think we're covering everything in EA (although the description Nick posted below is from, so it seemed like a decent first attempt). But that certainly seems correct, you could have very different answers to "who likes extreme altruism", "who likes AI safety", etc.

The community question is particularly interesting one because it might be more of a historical artifact than a necessary trait of ... (read more)

Thanks Siebe - while I certainly agree that we don't take the most extreme form of effective altruism, I don't think it's actually as focused on narrow Effective Giving as you suggest. We used that language in the original write up because we wanted it to be accessible to a non EA audience. But if you look at the language of the actual description (Nick posted it above), we took that from, and it actually focuses pretty broadly on trying to do good, not just on donating.

But as we mention, I think this is just the tip of the iceberg, I... (read more)

I really like the approach behind this post - too often EAs are hesitant to think about ways we can make use of our own psychology for pursuing altruism. It appears to some EAs that tricks like donating to a cause area (to avoid identifying too strongly in opposition to it) should not be part of a rationalist's toolkit. But accepting that we are all biased, and doing what we can to overcome those biases in favor of what we would rationally, reflectively endorse as the unbiased viewpoint, can only help us increase our effectiveness in pursuing our altruistic goals.

Very nice - I've had people ask me before how to make a charity more effective, and it's always been somewhat uncomfortable to have to say that EA focuses more attention on evaluating the existing effectiveness of charities than on trying to help charities to become more effective. But this is one step better than just helping existing charities to become more effective, this is creating effective charities from the ground up. Bravo.

This is terrific - thanks for taking steps to make this a reality! Excited to see what wonderful things come out of the people who are staying there.

I'd agree with being hesitant to distinguish definitions of EA for "academic" and "outreach" purposes. It seems like that's asking for someone to use the wrong definition in the wrong context.

It could also be useful to specify a few other things about the question, such as whether charities saving future lives are legitimate to include in the calculation and whether the language about helping the world's poorest people was specifically intending to restrict the set to global poverty charities.