I currently lead EA funds.

Before that, I worked on improving epistemics in the EA community at CEA (as a contractor), as a research assistant at the Global Priorities Institute, on community building, and Global Health Policy.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise, opinions are my own, not my employer's.

You can give me positive and negative feedback here.


Topic Contributions

Answer by calebpDec 13, 202219

Hi Markus,

For context I run EA Funds, which includes the EAIF (though the EAIF is chaired by Max Daniel not me). We are still paying out grants to our grantees — though we have been slower than usual (particularly for large grants). We are also still evaluating applications and giving decisions to applicants (though this is also slower than usual). 

We have communicated this to the majority of our grantees, but if you or anyone else reading this urgently needs a funding decision (in the next two weeks), please email caleb [at] effectivealtruismfunds [dot] org with URGENT in the subject line, and I will see what I can do. Please also include:

  • Please also include the name of the application (from previous funds email subject lines),
  • the reason the request is urgent,
  • latest decision and payout dates that would work for you - such that if we can’t make these dates there is little reason to make the grant.

You can also apply to one of Open Phil’s programs; in particular, Open Philanthropy’s program for grantees affected by the collapse of the FTX Future Fund may be particularly of note to people applying to EA Funds due to the FTX crash.

(I don't work on the Animal Welfare Fund directly)

I think hiring a fundraiser for EA Funds could make sense (particularly if we were able to make a quick hire for giving season before deciding about a longer commitment); feel free to refer fundraisers that you have a high opinion of.

I don't think we have the capacity to run a proper hiring round for a fundraiser right now.

(to be clear, I do donate I just haven't signed the pledge, and I'm confused about how much I am already donating) 

I think the main things are:

  • whilst I think donating now > donating in the future + interest, the cost of waiting to donate is fairly low (if you're not worried about value drift)
  • I can think of many situations in the past where an extra $10k would have been extremely useful to me to move to more impactful work.
    • I don't think that it always makes sense for funders to give this kind of money to people in my position.
    • I now have friends who could probably do this for me, but it has some social cost.
  • I think it's important for me to be able to walk away from my job without worrying about personal finances. 
    • My job has a certain kind of responsibility that sometimes makes me feel uneasy, and being able to walk away without having another reason not to seems important.
  • I think I've seen several EAs make poor decisions from a place of poor personal finance and unusual financial security strategies. I think the epistemic effects of worrying about money are pretty real for me.


  • If I were trying to have the most impact with my money via donations, I think I would donate to various small things that I sometimes see that funders aren't well positioned to fund. This would probably mean saving my money and not giving right now.
    • (I think that this kind of strategy is especially good for me as I have a good sense of what funders can and can't fund - I think people tend to overestimate the set of things funders can't fund)
  • I don't see why the GWWC 10% number should generalise well to my situation. I don't think it's a bad number. I don't weigh the community prior very strongly relative to my inside view here.
  1. The average EA today is far less "committed" to EA than in 2016. By committed, I mean making personal sacrifices for altruism. Here is a website I found for Jeff Kauffman and Julia Wise where you can see them giving 50% of their income since ~2012. If I'm not mistaken, they've had a family for most of that time. This behavior is significantly less common nowadays, particularly as a proportion of people in the movement where I suspect a good fraction of people in the community donate relatively little, let alone 50% of their income.


Given how much the community has grown, isn't this just what you'd expect? There are way more people than there were in 2016, which pushes down how weird the community is on average due to regression to the mean. The obvious solution is that EA should just be smaller and more selected for altruism (which I think would be an error).

  1. Salaries at EA organizations have grown a lot. People used to take massive pay cuts to do EA non-profit work. Hopefully people from the early days can fill in some numbers here but there is a picture here of an office in the basement of an estate agent, salaries being 15k/year pre-tax and lunch being the same every day. In the OP, Abraham talks about a $500 donation allowing him to hire a contractor and being able to hire staff after ~75k of donations. Apart from a select few CE incubated charities, 75k doesn't even cover a single person's salary for a year at most EA orgs. Most salaries I see today for EA positions are 100k+, particularly at longtermist organizations.

I think the simplest explanation for this is that there are just more roles with well-paying counterfactuals e.g. ml engineering. Excluding those roles, after you adjust for the cost of living, most EA roles aren't particularly well paid e.g. Open Phil salaries aren't much higher than the median in SF  and maybe less than the BART (Bay Area metro) police.

Which grants would you like to hear more reasoning for? Our grants aren't very heavytailed wrt grant size, so I am not sure which to pick - but I am happy to explain the case for a few specific grants.

I also like these analogies!

Does the marriage analogy as you perceive it include that breaking the pledge further down the line is pretty common and socially okay, but also that it's a serious thing and breaking it is not to be taken lightly?

Yes, we do that fairly regularly. We haven't discussed people's counterfactual options above, but this often makes a 20% reduction in grant size unattractive.

Grants that are just over the bar look pretty similar to these. I don't think there's a sharp drop-off in quality around the funding bar (though there has been in the past).

I guess there are two questions it might be helpful to separate.

  1. what is the best thing to do with my money if I am purely optimising for the good?
  2. how much of my money does the good demand?

Looking at the first question (1), I think engaging with the cost of giving (as opposed to the cost of building runway) wrt doing the most good is also helpful. It feels to me like donating $10K to AMF could make me much less able to transition my career to a more impactful path, costing me months, which could mean that several people die that I could have saved via donating to Givewell charities.

It feels like the "cost" applies symmetrically to the runway and donating cases and pushes towards "you should take this seriously" instead of having a high bar for spending money on runway/personal consumption.

Looking at (2) - Again I broadly agree with the overall point, but it doesn't really push me towards a particular percentage to give.

We just published a longer post with some more grants here.

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