KathrynMecrow

I work at The Life You Can Save (TLYCS) with the Giving Games Project.

KathrynMecrow's Comments

Shoot Your Shot

Hi there! My name is Kathryn and I work with The Life You Can Save, specifically managing the Giving Games Project. I frequently run Giving Games and semi-frequently skype into classroom settings to answer questions. I've also worked with some schools to develop events activities. I can likely help. My contact information is <kathryn.mecrow@thelifeyoucansave.org>.

AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything!

Great question, thank you, Aaron :) The main metric we use is “Net Impact” which is the money we moved to our recommended nonprofits minus our operating expenses. As a secondary metric, we look at our “leverage factor” or “multiplier.” This is the ratio between our money moved and our expenses. To give an example of why we prioritize our net impact, we would rather spend $1 billion to move $5 billion (Net Impact = $4 billion, Multiplier = 5) than spend $100 to move $1,000 (Net Impact = $900, Multiplier = 10).

In 2018, we moved ~$5.25 million to our recommended nonprofits and spent ~$460,000. Our net impact was ~$4.8 million and our multiplier was ~11. We’re still in the process of calculating our 2019 financials, but we know we have seen significant growth. Our money moved should be at least $11 million, and we expect our multiplier to around 15x. Based on the last two years, we estimate a $10 donation to our operating budget would generate ~$110-$150 in donations to our recommended charities.

For money moved, we count donations that are made through our site and directly to our recommended charities citing us as an influencer. We generally consider our numbers to be conservative, as we expect some of the donations we influence to be unreported. We discussed how we think about counterfactuals at length in the appendix to our 2017 annual report.

With respect to tracking impact from Giving Games, we plan to publish an annual report with analysis of our data soon.

AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything!

Excellent question, thank you! I am delighted to hear that people enjoyed the event. Our objectives were primarily to celebrate the progress since the initial launch of The Life You Can Save in 2009, further strengthen our relationships with our networks, and create new ones. As an organization we place a huge value on these relationships as much of what we do relies on them to be successful. On attendees, I think this is an example of a positive consequence of the diversity of the backgrounds of our team members that Jon mentioned above. Our organizing team contacted their networks which led us to a mix of attendees all of whom were excited to be there. Personally, I spent around 10-20 hours, primarily during EA Global in London, inviting people and asking my networks for advice. Including people already involved and leaders of the EA community meant that we had a group of really enthusiastic attendees who were willing to discuss what they find inspiring about effective giving and Effective Altruism and guide attendees who were perhaps earlier in their journeys. Our London-based recommended nonprofits also attended which allowed us to highlight the practical consequences of our work which is natural to lose sight of if you aren’t doing direct, in-country work. Since the event, we have had a significant amount of great feedback, including from our largest donor which is obviously really important for us. I also like to think that people will reach out to us in the future more willingly now they know more about our team and guiding values but I think it probably a little too soon to tell. We have some new leads coming out of the event, but expect it to take time to learn what the results might be. On costs, we spent £5,425 hard costs. There are other costs that you mention like staff time. An incredibly back-of the envelope calculation would be <£10,000. Overall, we are pleased with the event, learnt alot, and, of course, are very grateful to our networks for helping make it a success.

AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything!

This is another excellent question. I think before I became involved with The Life You Can Save (TLYCS) and the Giving Games Project, I personally underestimated how much “the average donor” decides where to donate at least partially based on an interest in or personal connection to a particular issue. Given these considerations, The Life You Can Save present our recommended nonprofits with diverse focus areas, types of interventions, and location of operations. Jon goes into more detail about why we sometimes recommend nonprofits which overlap on one or more of these factors above but some of the steps we take to avoid overwhelming our donors are:

1. We present our recommended nonprofits on our site structured on the menu bar under key issue areas, for example, creating economic opportunities, helping women and girls, and ending hunger and malnutrition.

2. We have developed a search mechanism which allows donor to filter nonprofits by the type of impact they have, the country they work in, and their tax deductibility status.

3. We recently added an “All Charities Appeal” which allows donors to make a single donation to support all our recommended organizations. This appears to be quite popular with donors. Over time (when we have the capacity to add dedicated charity assessment staff), we would like to move this toward more of an actively managed fund, and add sub-funds for donors who want to support multiple organizations working in the same cause area (e.g. women and girls).

4. We have developed an impact calculator which allows donors to compare the estimated cost-effectiveness of different interventions.

5. We additionally place a high value on making our nonprofit write-ups as simple, concise and well-presented as possible. An example is here.

6. We prioritize the creation of relationships where large donors trust our recommendations and larger donors contact our donor advice team to discuss the option space.

I think these tools and approaches enable a significantly easier and more accessible donor experience. This is so far backed by our latest statistics on the usability of the new website, which we launched in December 2019, alongside the tenth anniversary edition of The Life You Can Save.

AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything!

This is a great question that definitely sent me down abit of a rabbit hole and possibly diverts a little from my role at The Life You Can Save. I have personally been involved in the EA community to varying degrees since stumbling into an operations role at The Future of Humanity Institute back in 2016 before really having a good idea of what Effective Altruism was. As I am sure you can imagine, this led to an interesting couple of months while I got up to speed. Generally speaking, I have moved away from referring to myself and others as “Effective Altruists” as I much prefer the approach outlined by Helen Toner back in 2014 where she describes Effective Altruism not as an ideology but as the question of “How can I do the most good with the resources available to me?” I, personally, share Helen’s concern, at the time, that presenting Effective Altruism as an identity leads to questions of who fits in and what standard of behavior one needs to maintain to meet the bar. On tendency, I refer to myself as interested in Effective Altruism or sometimes as a member of the Effective Altruism community. Throughout my involvement but particularly recently when I founded WANBAM (the Women and Non-Binary Altruism Mentorship), I have updated that that seeing EA as an identity is really susceptible to invoking a hefty dose of imposter syndrome even in cases where it is obvious that the person is adding a huge amount of value to the EA communty/ its core focus area. I personally know a number of people who share this sentiment and might not identify as Effective Altruists (the noun) for these reasons. As such, I would be slightly reluctant to straw man “a typical EA.” The closest I would be prepared to go is to say that at the root of Effective Altruism is a commitment to doing what you reasonably can to make the world a better place and prioritizing a commitment to being guided in this pursuit not by assumptions of what seems best but through utilizing evidence and a depth of rigor I have never encountered before in comparable communities. These characteristics are shared by my team who while incredibly ideologically and demographically diverse, all share these foundational commitments.

Women and Non-Binary Altruism Mentorship (WANBAM) is accepting mentee applications!

Quick update from us :) The reception to the mentorship program has been incredible. In the space of two weeks, we have received 71 applications. We were delighted with the quality of the applicants and are now working with our mentors to finalize matches! More to follow.

How do you, personally, experience "EA motivation"?

It started with a sense of injustice, that so many people were suffering so I went into international development and was shocked by how expensive and ineffective it was. I burnt-out really badly, and I don't now get much in the way of emotional reaction to many forms of suffering (unless it's personalised and even then it's quite dulled in the moment). I'd seen so much suffering, I knew it was really, really bad, and I wanted to find effective ways to continue to prevent that. When I knew there were routes to actually do this, it seemed impossible not to prioritise that from a moral perspective or an emotional one. Hope that helps!

What book(s) would you want a gifted teenager to come across?

P.s. TLYCS are relaunching TLYCS end of 2019. They will have free books/ audibles avaliable. I am sure I can hook you guys up ;) (kathryn.mecrow@thelifeyoucansave.org).

What book(s) would you want a gifted teenager to come across?

Hi there!

Thank you for the work you are doing. <https://docs.google.com/document/d/14exkkaeJWOyAKX6o-tf-mfV8SJAwEhG-QFDbUrVnOH8/edit#heading=h.49c95vu7wotf> This is an Educator Reading List, David from SHIC shared with me a while ago. We (Giving Games) are currently doing some fun programs with schools, "Charity Elections." There's an explanation info-graphic I made here <https://www.facebook.com/TheGivingGamesProject/photos/a.2267613603500146/2312199802374859/?type=3&theater>. Thanks, Kathryn

Optimizing Activities Fairs

My apologies, Vaidehi- this is what happens when you post mid drafting another email :)

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