Brad West

Founder & CEO @ Profit for Good Initiative
1686 karmaJoined


Looking to advance businesses with charities in the vast majority shareholder position. Check out my TEDx talk for why I believe Profit for Good businesses could be a profound force for good in the world.



Yeah, if there were markers like "neutral", "slightly agree", "moderately agree", "strongly agree", etc. that might make it clearer.

After the decision by the user registers, a visual display that states something like "you've indicated that you strongly agree with the statement X.  Redrag if this does not reflect your view or if something changes your mind and check out where the rest of the community falls on this question by clicking here." 

I note some of my confusion that might have been shared by others. I initially had thought that the option from users was between binary "agree" and "disagree" and thought the method by which a user could choose was by dragging to one side or another. I see now that this would signify maximal agreement/disagreement, although maybe users like me might have done so in error. Perhaps something that could indicate this more clearly would be helpful to others.

Answer by Brad West11

I anticipate that others will say that you are not obligated to live your life to help others. I disagree, and think that we are obligated to do so. I agree that there is often very little difference between acting to do something that harms conscious beings and failing to do something that you are capable of doing that you know will prevent harm.

However, if you do not take care of yourself, you will (a) be less productive and (b) risk burnout and abandoning your commitment to help others. Even if you aspire to do the most good, without privileging your own interests, it is still prudent to make sure that your basic needs are met so that you are most likely to be be able and willing to do the most good throughout the course of your life.

I joined your mailing list. I will be happy to share what you are doing both personally and through my org!

A challenge with promoting animal rights is the common request for people to completely eliminate animal products from their diet, a step too significant for most. This demand can lead to inaction due to the cognitive dissonance experienced by those disturbed by factory farming but unwilling to go vegan. Thus, providing alternative ways for people to contribute can build more support and reduce harm.

Promoting meaningful labeling: When I go to the supermarket, I often see labeling that purports to signify that the animals used in the creation of the product were treated more humanely. I have no idea (a) whether or not the treatment difference they are claiming is actually true (there may be little to no enforcement) or (b) whether the treatment difference they are claiming actually is significant in terms of its welfare effect. This is an area that EAs could enable non-vegans who are sympathetic... enabling them to identify labeling that is meaningful in terms of animal welfare differences. 

Promoting off-setting: The farmed animal welfare movement funding is around two to three hundred million dollars globally, if I understand correctly, orders of magnitude less than cause areas like global health and development. I think there are people who agree that it is terrible that we live in a world of mass torture for the creation of animal products, yet are unwilling to give up the products and thus continue contributing to the demand for it. Although it may not be the most rational to tie one's donation to one's harmful action, it is a framework that resonates with people due to some intuitions regarding special obligations stemming from harms that one causes. In my mind, we should leverage this intuition and make it easy to: (1) provide a survey to people that establishes their dietary patters; (2) provide a portfolio of effective animal welfare charities that effectively address farmed animal welfare (conservatively calculated to overestimate rather than underestimate),(3) calculate a sum corresponding with the harm caused on an annual basis, and (4) providing an easy means for them to pay it. I understand @Luke Eure is doing some work that may further this project.

Making it simpler for people to engage in the farmed animal welfare movement is crucial. By offering accessible and practical ways to contribute, we can attract more individuals who share our goals, even if to a lesser degree.

Regarding #1, I would remember that orgs giving assistance optimize for avoiding Type 1 rather than Type 2 errors. This means, because of their limited resources, that they are much more interested in making sure their deployment of resources do not go to bad recipients rather than making sure that every potential good recipient is supported by their program (which would be impossible anyway). So while acceptance into a competitive program might be indicative of merit, rejection from many programs might not indicate lack of merit.

I would also listen to Sophia Balderson's (founder of Impactful Animal Advocacy, now Hive) interview on the How I Learned to Love Shrimp podcast.

Basically, keep considering whether the path you are pursuing is the way to go, but rejection is not dispostive of the question as there are lots of rejections of worthy applicants.

Hi Dave,

I think businesses that donate a portion of profits should be commended. It's important to account for the effectiveness of the charities they support as well as the portion of profits donated.

The structure of donation as a portion of profits rather than a set quantity is also sensible because it enables businesses to meet their costs and for worthy causes to share in surpluses along with normal shareholders. However, in businesses with substantial normal shareholders (non-PFGs), shareholders may demand higher prices in light of the profit-sharing. Additionally, significant donations could impair a business’s ability to compete by reinvesting profits.

The Profit for Good (PFG) business structure addresses these challenges effectively. By having charities as the primary shareholders, PFG businesses align their profit motives directly with philanthropic goals. This means that instead of traditional shareholders expecting returns, the profits are directed towards charitable causes, integrating giving into the core business model.

This alignment allows PFG businesses to maintain competitive pricing. Since charities are the shareholders, there is no pressure to maximize dividends for traditional investors. This enables the business to reinvest profits for growth, just like any other company, ensuring sustainability and a competitive edge in the market. Reinvestment increases the equity value of the business, which can enable charities to borrow against this value to access funds for urgent opportunities. The reinvestment benefits both the business and the charitable causes, as increased business value translates into greater potential for charitable funding.

Moreover, PFG businesses can leverage consumer preference for ethical consumption without compromising on competitiveness. Consumers are likely to favor products from businesses that transparently support charitable causes, potentially driving higher sales and further increasing the funds available for donation.

In essence, while any business contributing to charitable causes is a step in the right direction, the PFG model maximizes the impact by structurally aligning business success with philanthropic goals.

I love what you are doing to make it easier for people to do good. I think a lot of our community's efforts have focused on how to empower highly-aligned people to do more good. The focus you seem to have on concrete actions people can do to better the world seems like it could potentially have a much broader audience.

As I read through the EA handbook recently, many passages seemed rather paralyzing. And I agree that, especially for highly aligned and engaged people, thoughtful reflection and analysis is very appropriate to think about how we can use our lives to do the most good. On the other hand, your concrete recommendations with tangible, clearly-articulated benefits is probably more helpful to the vast majority of people looking to do good.  I look forward to seeing the future of "Increasing Happiness" 

They seem like an excellent example of a Profit for Good business succeeding in part due to their charitable commitment. Selling coffee, socks, and soap online seems very scalable and we are very excited to see the Good Store's progress.

We link to each of their product lines on our "Find a Profit for Good" page

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