Brock W.

1 karmaJoined Working (15+ years)


  • Completed the Introductory EA Virtual Program


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· · 1m read


In Canada there is a company called TipTapPay ( and I'm sure they have competitors here and equivalents in other countries. They offer a simple, instant contactless payment that goes directly to a charity. 

Existing tap-to-give solutions don't function like your hypothetical app, but they could achieve a fairly similar end-result with far less friction. For example users don't have to download an app, link and authorize payment types, etc. 

One more case for this potentially being a better fit for a hardware solution, rather than software, is that if I were to see a stranger eating alone at a restaurant tapping away at a noisy app, I'm not likely going to approach them. I'll assume they are playing a Candy Crush-style game and don't want to be interrupted. 

Do you provide training on fundraising methods, besides the preparation of a funding proposal as one of the culminating activities? For example, do you cover any core skills or tactics that might help build a broader community of smaller donors, or does CE favour fundraising from a small number of donors with very high giving capacity? Thanks!

I think assuming a minimum donation amount presents as hubris. Donors always have the ability to give little or nothing, regardless of how much capacity they have to give is. Just because a donor can give $10 million does not mean that they are in any way obligated to give a minimum of $1 million. 

In fundraising we have prospect researchers who are great at making informed estimates about a person or foundation's upper limit gift capacity. Other known gifts, company ownership, board positions, family history, real estate, etc. But, I don't know that I've ever seen a prospect profile that provides a minimum ask amount. 

@vipulnaik points out at another point in this thread that a potential major donor fluent in EA theory is unlikely to give a trivial amount, like $100. That is certainly possible, and if you know for certain that a donor makes their giving decisions with an EA lens, then by all means go for it. But, if you find yourself in a situation with a generous and wealthy donor who isn't an EA'er that wants to give a substantial amount to your cause, just don't take for granted that they could walk away at any moment for any reason. 

For your counter question, I'm not entirely sure what donor risk you're referring to. I think maybe you're referring to a risk that the money is lost in transit, embezzled, or misspent? In that case, donors should do due diligence into the organization's leadership (board and executive), review financials like the 501(c)3 or equivalents, insist on a gift agreement if we're talking large amounts tied to specific activities and timelines, etc.  

GeWWC: Getting What We Can

I was particularly inspired by Kat Woods' statement that fundraising is one of the highest leverage meta-skills you can develop. I work in fundraising, and agree. Holden Karnofsky categorized fundraising as a skill under the aptitude of “organization building, running and boosting” and he also acknowledged in Ep. 110 of the 80,000 Hours Podcast that the lack of a fundraising base as a grantee risk at Open Philanthropy. 

So, could we be doing more to attract, train and upskill fundraising professionals? Is it something 80,000 Hours recommends in coaching calls? Should an EA-aligned fund establish or invest in a bootcamp-style course or program that emphasizes membership and smaller-gift fundraising because of it shares so many traits with community building?

I appreciate the time and effort you've put into this, thank you! Also, I appreciate that right off the top you identify that this is an exercise, and a collection of thoughts. 

I've worked in fundraising and philanthropy for over a decade, so I couldn't help read this through the lens of someone on the charity side seeking to better understand donor motivations and finding opportunities to improve fundraising operations and the donor experience. 

Something I would challenge you on is to consider that for every level you've identified here, the lower limit is always $0. For EA'ers responsible for raising any amount of money from individuals, this is incredibly important to factor into planning and risk management. Giving is a voluntary act, donor motivations are incredibly complex, and human behaviour in small sample sizes is tough to predict before any data or giving history is established with an organization.