Wiki Contributions


Making large donation decisions as a person focused on direct work

(Somewhat unrelated to my other comment)

How clear are you on your cause prioritization? If you know your cause area, you might just defer to a charity evaluator. (It sounds boring and too easy for so much money, but it might be the best way to go for many individuals). Obviously this does not work if you don't know your cause area or your cause area does not have charity evaluators (yet!).

Making large donation decisions as a person focused on direct work

Does your direct work give you access to knowledge that others don't have? Even if you are not a professional grantmaker in your cause area, you might still have lots of expertise. If your current best-guess donation opportunity is based on that knowledge, it might be quite a good guess, and maybe better than many individual donors. That's why I like it that some staff members of open philanthropy project tell where they donate.

As someone who does not do direct work and wants to donate thoughtfully, domain knowledge is something I miss a lot. I cannot be an expert in my priority cause area, no matter how much I would love to.

I'm not a huge fan of this option because it doesn't feel like my comparative advantage and I don't like (and am not good at) splitting my focus like this.

I agree attention is a thing.

The case for investing to give later

This is the post I most often refer to when talking about donating now versus investing to donate later. It provides a good summary of the main considerations and is accessible for non-expert donors. Having a back of the envelope model with real numbers is also really great.

Individual non-expert donors can defer to experts to decide where to donate by using charity evaluators and the EA Funds. But the question when to donate they have to make mostly themselves (except maybe in case of the Patient Philanthropy Fund).

Suggestions for follow-up posts.

  • updating the Guesstimate model upon new insight.
  • a better estimate of the exogenous learning rate
  • what is the effect of AI timelines
  • what is the effect of the growing amount of funding in EA
  • how does the investing versus giving question differ per cause area? It would be great to see a breakdown of this analysis for specific causes like global health, climate change, animal welfare, etc.

Some research has already been done on these questions. Having the findings written up in an accessible way for non-expert donors would be really useful.

Altruistic Motivations

Low-cost lives are not something to celebrate. They are a reminder that we live on an injured planet, where people suffer for no reason save poor luck.

This is motivational quote that I keep reminding myself of. This is one way I see the dark world.

This piece is not part of the replacing guilt series but has the same vibe. It deserves the same credit as replacing guilt.

Donating effectively does not necessarily imply donating tax-deductibly

Focusing on tax-deductibility too much can be a trap for everyday donors, including myself. I keep referring to this article to remind my peers or myself of that.

One piece of information is not mentioned: At least in some countries, donating to a not-tax-deductible charity may be subject to gift tax. I recommend that you check out if this applies to you before you donate . But even then the gift tax can be well worth paying.

We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

From a talk at EAG in 2019, I remembered that your approach could be summarized as empirical research in neglected areas (please correct me if I'm wrong here). Is this still the case? Do you still have a focus on empirical research (Over, say, philosophy)?

We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

About funding overhang:

Peter wrote a comment on a recent post:

I'm optimistic we will unlock new sources of needed funding (Rethink Priorities is working a ton on this) so we should expect the current funding overhang to be temporary, thus making it important to still have future donors ready / have large amounts of money saved up ready to deploy.

You also wrote in your plans for 2022:

Help solve the funding overhang in EA and unlock tons of impact by identifying interventions across cause areas that can take lots of money while still meeting a high bar for cost-effectiveness.

In which cause areas do you expect to identify the most funding opportunities? Will the funding gaps be big enough to resolve a significant part of the funding overhang?

Writing about my job: Web Developer

I have a very related job, as test engineer on a web application and have in some places very similar experiences. I might write my own post but this post already covers part of it.

Software testing is easier to transition into from an unrelated background and requires a somewhat different skillset and mindset. People who are more conscientious or more generalist may be a better fit for testing. Rather than working on a small part of the application, you work on the entire application (or at least a bigger part of it, depending on the product or company) and can sometimes understand interactions that developers are less likely to see. Collaboration skills are very important. There is a (mis)conception that testing, especially manual testing, is boring and monotonous. There is a grain of truth in that but it gets better when you become a more senior tester, get to automate things, and improve the overall testing workflow in the company.

I roughly agree with your notes on the "path to impact". Web development or testing can be a reasonable plan B or plan Z career path.

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

Much of your grantmaking goes to new and less established projects. There are many of those. Should we fear the (successful) programs get more funding-constrained once they have scaled up and therefore need more funding, but maybe they have lost the novelty for high-risk-high-reward-seeking donors? Or are other funders (individual donors, ACE recommendations, OpenPhil, other philanthropists) likely to take over?

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

What will the AWF look like in 5 years? What may have changed? What do you hope for? What challenges do you foresee?

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