Jon_Behar

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A ranked list of all EA-relevant (audio)books I've read

There's also an EA classic available as an audiobook: The Live You Can Save (the fully updated 10th anniversary edition) is  freely available (in audiobook or ebook format) making it a book to share with people you think might find it interesting.

What are some potential coordination failures in our community?

Search engine optimization.

Based on my very limited understanding, links are critical for SEO (though not as important as a few years ago). So conventions like “EA blogs should generally have blogrolls (i.e. lists of links to related blogs)” or “references to organizations (e.g AMF) on the EA Forum should generally link to them” would probably help the entire community.

What are the most common objections to “multiplier” organizations that raise funds for other effective charities?

These sophisticated donors’ support of such a wide range of multiplier orgs supports the idea that there could be a lot of leverage out there to be had. If that’s true, it also has some interesting implications for the “it’s hard to get a job at an EA org” discussion that’s been going on for a while, most recently here.

Here's a simplified thought experiment. Let’s say you invested $1 million in the orgs listed above, allocated proportionally to their current size (not all that far off from what the infrastructure fund has actually done, but we’ll use stylized numbers to keep the math simple). Salaries are typically the biggest expense for multiplier orgs, so let’s say $800k flows through to hiring new people. Assume $100k/year per new person and that’s 8 new hires. If 75% of those jobs go to people in the EA community, that’s 6 EA’s getting the sorts of jobs that are immensely desireable and immensely scarce.

If the multiplier model really works, $1 million will be a small fraction of what’s needed to build a flourishing system multiplier orgs with models spanning research (e.g. GiveWell, ACE), fundraising for targeted causes (e.g. TLYCS, OFTW), fundraising for targeted donors (e.g. Founders Pledge and REG), and country-level organizations that provide tax deductible giving (e.g. RC Forward, EA Netherlands). If you built that ecosystem, you’d quickly create dozens of new roles. So if the multiplier model works at scale, you’ll move a ton of incremental money while also making real headway on the issue of EA jobs being scarce. (To be clear, I don’t think we should fund multiplier orgs so EAs will be able to get the jobs they want, I’m just saying that would be a nice added benefit if the multiplier model works and another reason to investigate whether it does work.)

What are the most common objections to “multiplier” organizations that raise funds for other effective charities?

Thanks for this data point Luke! It’s a good reminder that counterfactuals work both ways for multiplier orgs. Sometimes we count money that would have been donated counterfactually (overestimating our impact), but sometimes there are donations we don’t count that wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t exist (underestimating our impact).

Also worth noting that sometimes the spillover effect is in an area that isn't the multiplier orgs main focus. For instance, I'd also expect the book relaunch to help 80K which gets a nice discussion, but that's not anything TLYCS will capture in its metrics.

What are the most common objections to “multiplier” organizations that raise funds for other effective charities?

My sense is that most individual donors aren't excited about multiplier orgs because they find them complicated, don't have time to dig into the leverage numbers to really understand them, and therefore don't trust those numbers. And I think that's a pretty reasonable strategy for most individuals. But it does seem telling that funders that have the resources to do more vetting have supported such a wide range of multiplier orgs.  

What are the most common objections to “multiplier” organizations that raise funds for other effective charities?

Also, they [Open Phil] could fund TLYCS through their global health and poverty program instead. They've funded One for  the World. The EA Infrastructure Fund has also funded TYLCS among many other multiplier orgs.

To get funded, One for the World had to change the recommendations to use only GiveWell's research. That was also a precondition of any discussion with GiveWell about funding for TLYCS, which was not a strategic compromise we were willing to make. 

As you say, the EA Infrastructure Fund has funded a lot of multiplier orgs. But aside from Founders Pledge, the grants have been pretty small- at the organizational level, I think they're all under $30k in almost 4 years the fund has been operating. That's definitely helpful, but not really a sustainable funding source for an organization. 

What are the most common objections to “multiplier” organizations that raise funds for other effective charities?

I think this is a really important point.

To give you some updated numbers, in 2019 TLYCS raised over $6 for AMF for every dollar we spent on operations plus another $7 for other recommended charities. If you look only at GiveWell recommended charities, our multiplier was 10X.

As I mentioned to HStencil, if these multiplier numbers are remotely accurate, there’s a huge margin of safety. You could believe that donations to any charity other than AMF are totally worthless AND that TLYCS overestimated donations to AMF by 3x, and you still would have doubled your impact by giving to TLYCS. And our multiplier is going to be even higher this year. (I’m talking about TLYCS because that’s what I’m familiar with, but I also recall seeing strong multipliers from e.g. RC Forward and REG.)

What are the most common objections to “multiplier” organizations that raise funds for other effective charities?

Really appreciate that you spelled out your thinking so clearly- thank you! 

I think intermediaries make more sense for more casual donors, unlike people like yourself who are putting lots of thought into where to give.

What are the most common objections to “multiplier” organizations that raise funds for other effective charities?

Glad it helped! Thanks for the great questions, I'm sure you're not the only one who had them!

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