HStencil's Comments

Did Fortify Health receive $1 million from EA Funds?

Hi Jack, thank you so much for your thorough response to my concerns. I have seen the additions to your website, and I think they’re great. I should also note that I think One for the World is doing laudable and important work. I did not intend to suggest otherwise. As you say, I believe you “could be seen” as a publicity effort for GiveWell, but I certainly do not believe that characterization accurately captures the full scope of your activities or of your role in the broader EA ecosystem. On a similar note, I apologize for missing the acknowledgements of your financial relationship with GiveWell in the blog posts you mentioned and in your 2018 annual report. I admit I simply was not looking that hard for disclosures – I just browsed what I took to be the main pages of your website. I am thrilled to see that these pages now feature a similar (or greater) level of transparency. Finally, I am glad to hear that you are engaged in efforts to reduce your reliance on GiveWell for funding and that GiveWell is supporting you in those efforts. That strikes me as an excellent best practice. Thanks again for your response, for the changes, and for all of the great work you’re doing at One for the World.

Did Fortify Health receive $1 million from EA Funds?

Hi Sam, thank you so much for explaining all of that — it’s all good to know. I certainly wouldn’t ask you to refund any of my donations (though I do appreciate the offer).

There’s just one more thing I’d like to flag. Recently, I noticed the “Scope and Limitations” page on the EA Funds website for the first time, which says it exists in part “to set clear expectations” for donors. The section dedicated to describing the scope of Global Development Fund reads, “The Global Health and Development Fund makes grants that aim to improve the health or economic empowerment of people around the world as effectively as possible,” giving the following as examples of “expected recipients”:

· [Projects that] directly provide healthcare, or preventive measures that will improve health, wellbeing, or life expectancy
· [Projects that] directly improve economic conditions or income
· [Projects that] build capacity in government or social systems such as healthcare systems, policymaking, or education, or conduct research that will be useful for building such capacity”
· [Projects that] conduct research that will assist practitioners in delivering such projects more effectively

It seems to me that the One for the World grant falls outside of the scope of those expected recipients. I understand that the expected recipients list is intended to be non-binding and that “if a Fund’s management team decides that a grant fulfils the Scope/Limitations, and the spirit of the Expected Recipients section, they may recommend the grant.” However, if it’s reasonably likely that the Global Development Fund will make more grants to movement-building organizations down the road, do you think that perhaps the expected recipients list should be updated to reflect that?

Finally, the webpage says, “Where a grant is determined to be ambiguous with respect to scope . . ., approval may require additional scrutiny.” If I understand correctly, you now agree that the One for the World grant was “ambiguous with respect to scope,” but on account of your prior understanding of the Fund’s prior scope, you did not feel that way at the time of the grant. Accordingly, I assume that the One for the World grant did not receive additional scrutiny. Is that correct?

Thanks again for engaging with me here. I’m grateful for the thought.

Did Fortify Health receive $1 million from EA Funds?

Hi Catherine, thanks so much for clarifying that and for passing my feedback on to One for the World. I am thrilled to see that they have now added a new page to their website explaining the nature of their relationship with GiveWell in detail. To my eye, the page does a great job of providing donors with all of the information they might want to have and would be a good model for other organizations confronting similar issues.

Did Fortify Health receive $1 million from EA Funds?

Thank you for that explanation. I’m glad to hear that the language of the Fund’s previous description would have raised questions at GiveWell about whether the One for the World grant was within the Fund’s scope, had it been on the relevant individuals’ radar at the time. In light of the fact that CEA told Elie the grant was within the Fund’s scope, it’s understandable that the GiveWell team did not pore over the Fund description to double-check CEA’s judgment. While I’m curious about how CEA understood the scope of the fund internally at the time (e.g. is it their view that the scope has changed?), I’m glad that we are all on the same page about it now. I’m also curious about when the GiveWell/CEA teams realized that the old EA Funds webpage’s description of the Fund’s scope might reasonably be read to exclude the One for the World grant. Was that realization the reason why the fund descriptions were updated back in late November/early December?

Additionally, I noticed you didn’t comment on the issue of One for the World presenting itself as fully independent of GiveWell when in fact it is highly reliant upon GiveWell for funding. I understand that you, of course, can’t speak for One for the World, but all the same, I think it’s important for this to be addressed. With that in mind, would GiveWell support One for the World in taking steps to clarify the nature of its relationships with GiveWell on its website?

Did Fortify Health receive $1 million from EA Funds?

Hi Catherine,

Thank you for your thoughtful responses and for getting the grant write-up online. After a busy holiday season, I just had a chance to go through it, and I appreciate the rationale provided therein.

I also noticed the update you mentioned to the Global Health and Development Fund’s webpage back in early December. While I’m grateful for the improved clarity with regards to the Fund’s current scope, my memory is that the previous webpage included language that specifically indicated the Fund would only be used to support direct work in global health and development, not movement-building work (e.g. in the section discussing why potential donors might not want to give to the fund). As a donor to the Fund with a strong preference to support direct work over movement-building work, this language was a part of the reason why I decided to support the Fund some time ago. While I am confident that this was not anyone’s intent, an outside observer might well infer that the webpage’s description of the Fund’s scope was updated in the wake of the One for the World grant as a means of shielding that grant from the scrutiny of donors who had been under the impression that their money would only go toward direct work.

These optics, I think, are further worsened by the fact that the grant was not disclosed to the public until I inquired about the Fund’s transparency a month after the fact, as well as by the nature of One for the World as a meta-charity. As far as I’m aware, One for the World is the only meta-charity that recommends donors support exclusively charities selected by GiveWell, and it features GiveWell’s logo on its website, thereby promoting GiveWell’s brand. While I am a strong supporter of GiveWell, and I hold its research in extremely high regard, I do think that the circumstances surrounding the October 2019 grant to One for the World give the impression that GiveWell took funds donors believed would be spent on direct anti-poverty work and directed them instead to a publicity/fundraising effort.

I understand that drawing more money to its recommended charities is one of GiveWell’s primary organizational goals at this point in time, and I fully support that. However, I would not support GiveWell spending funds donated for discretionary regranting to its top charities on advertising campaigns. I think that the only difference between that hypothetical and the One for the World grant is the greater degree of ambiguity in the way funds given to the Global Health and Development Fund are to be used compared to funds given to GiveWell for discretionary regranting. To be sure, this is an extremely important difference, but all the same, I do not think that the comparison is wholly unjustified.

Finally, given that GiveWell is providing the majority of One for the World’s funding through 2022, it seems exceptionally important that One for the World offer some kind of disclaimer about the nature of its relationships with GiveWell on its website (financial and otherwise). At the moment, its FAQs page says that it receives substantial funding from the Open Philanthropy Project, The Life You Can Save, members of its executive committee, and “a private donor.” Where the website does feature GiveWell, it states only that GiveWell is mission-aligned and a “partner” of One for the World. Neither gives readers any sense of the magnitude of One for the World’s reliance on GiveWell’s support. On the contrary, these statements give the impression that One for the World’s leadership opted of their own accord to make use of GiveWell’s recommendations in deciding how to structure their meta-charity. I expect that impression is likely true, and I would have done the same if I were founding a meta-charity. All the same, however, at the point that GiveWell is providing the majority of this organization’s budget, and that budget is being used to promote GiveWell’s work, that financial relationship must be disclosed. Donors should understand, for instance, that if the quality of GiveWell’s research were to suddenly decline for some reason, One for the World might nonetheless feel unable to alter its charity selection process due to its reliance on grants recommended by the GiveWell team.

I hope none of that comes across as unduly harsh. I hold your work in the highest possible esteem. I think it has done an enormous amount of good, and I hope to see it continue long into the future. Though I will no longer be donating to the Global Health and Development Fund, I will continue to support GiveWell’s top charities on the basis of GiveWell’s recommendations for the foreseeable future.

Credit Cards for EA Giving

I noticed that someone used my referral link to open a Capital One card and wanted to confirm for them that I've given $80 of the referral bonus to Malaria Consortium's SMC program, on the understanding that it is currently GiveWell's top recommendation.

Did Fortify Health receive $1 million from EA Funds?

Okay, that makes sense – thanks for explaining.

One other thing: Any chance you or Catherine have an estimate of when we can expect a full write-up on the One for the World grant to be published? I'm curious mostly because it seems like a slightly atypical use of the Global Health and Development Fund (perhaps a better fit for the Meta Fund, from which One for the World received a grant earlier in the year).

Did Fortify Health receive $1 million from EA Funds?

Thanks for responding, Catherine and Sam (and also for posting those payout reports on EA Funds). I understand that the process of releasing a comprehensive write-up on each grant may take some time, but to me, it seems better (as policy) to at least let donors know about the existence of new grants within, say, 30 days of their being made than to not disclose them at all for months. I understand there are pitfalls to releasing the information that a grant was made without also explaining the process and justification behind it, but at least as I understand the relevant considerations, the benefits of doing so outweigh the harms.

On a related note, do you know whether the Global Health and Development Fund's balance figure on EA Funds has been accurate since June, even though these grants were not included on the website?

Credit Cards for EA Giving

Oops, sorry - not sure what happened to the Chase referral link, but I edited the post to add it. BofA isn't running a referral program right now, so there isn't a link for that card.

All of those flat-rate cards at the bottom should return 2% (or 1.8% in the case of Citizens, 1.5% in the case of Capital One, etc.) on payments through Facebook Fundraisers, given that their fixed cash back rates apply to all transactions. I can't personally confirm that, not owning any of the 2% cards myself, but assuming they follow their policies, you should be just fine.