All of Marcus Daniell's Comments + Replies

I love this Rebecca! 

The only thing I'd want to see changed is to add a pledge % cell into the FI table at the top, so you can play around with the percentage right from the start.

I'm assuming people visiting the calculator will have at least some idea of what they're about to look at.

Thank you for writing this! I strongly agree that we should broaden the tent. 

EA's biggest weakness in my opinion is that almost nobody knows what it is. I've spoken to many hundreds of athletes about EA in the last 2 years and only a handful had any idea what it was (hadn't heard the term) before I explained it. These are people with large audiences and cultural clout, who could be outsized levers in bringing the ideas to hundreds of millions.

However, EA as it presents itself right now seems quite exclusive. I don't believe that broadening the tent would lessen the direction or determination of those who are "pure" EA, but would gather a much more powerful groundswell around it. 

Thanks - I agree with this, though I'd note that within DC and academic circles, the movement is far better known, which probably accentuates rather than addresses the elitism. Given that, I would be interested in any thoughts on what a populist movement around EA looks like, and how we could build a world where giving effectively was a norm that was reinforced socially, - especially if we can figure out how that could happen without needing central direction, nor encouraging fanaticism and competition about who gives the most or is the most dedicated.


I love this post. I think EA has a weakness when it comes to storytelling and grabbing hearts. We're great at appealing to the cerebral folk with careful reasoning and logic, but they're a small minority. If we want EA ideas to percolate deeply we need to be outcompeting the other heart-grabbers, which means appealing to emotion and layering the logic on top. IMHO.

Totally. I'm being very tongue in cheek above. 
The gist of the headline and the post is that community members can contribute to a potentially highly impactful project with a very trivial amount of time and energy spend.
I very much agree that good intros take time.

Charles He
Yes, of course, that's fair. I guess it can be difficult to communicate tone online.

Did you try?
I just tried it myself: followed three accounts in 17 seconds (having lost a couple of seconds in starting my stopwatch), which gave me 1m43s to think about my network and whether it includes athletes. 
Also open to alternate headlines, e.g. Two tiny requests from HIA, A Variable Amount of your Time Depending on your Click Speed, Network Size, and Desire to Spend Time on the Task.

Charles He
Ok. I guess this comment is a little argumentative and not the highest signal to noise but: I can see how someone who hasn’t used their social media in a while, need time to login, unjig their password manager, agree to the latest privacy policy, etc. which takes several minutes. Also, it seems like many introduction emails take more than 2 minutes to write, especially if you haven’t spoken to that person in a while or they are loosely connected.

I've thought about getting in touch with them and seeing if they wanted to partner up somehow. From what I can see they don't have any alignment with EA, so perhaps I could try and move the needle a bit towards that. 

They've both been super helpful, particularly REG!

This is a fair point and one I'm not completely firm on myself.

The main reason for including Atmosfair and Burn are because in my experience pro athletes (particularly tennis players who fly almost every week) are particularly aware of their carbon footprint. Carbon offsetting is a relatively easy sell for this audience. 

Dan Stein at Giving Green has done research on carbon offsetting's impact, and specifically efficient cook stoves. 
I recommend BURN, as well as Atmosfair's cookstove pr... (read more)

I understand what you mean. Carbon offsetting is something many people is already familiar with and also tangible (direct action).  Indirect actions like developing new technologies, including advanced nuclear, or lobbying to influence political solutions,  might be the most effective way, but it is less compelling to many people.  I used to offset my carbon footprint as well until recently. It took some time for me to absorb the facts and act consequently. However, I still find the top charities currently recommended by Founders Pledge kind of abstract and "unsexy". These adjectives might not be considered relevant for advanced effective altruists, but I think the emotional component should not be neglected. This is especially important when talking to other people about it.  It is only my own experience and intuition, but the current top charities do not make one feel excited about it and eventually many will not donate anything, while if other charities that perform direct action are mentioned, it could be more compelling.  The compromise I found is CoolEarth. Protecting forests is tangible (direct action) and people generally like the concept of protecting forests and can grasp it instantly. In addition, according to the studies available (see below - unfortunately, I do know of any more updated versions) we are talking about the same order of magnitude when comparing it to the top charities. Therefore, when talking to other people, I usually start talking about CoolEarth and only in cases where I see they are interested in getting deeper I will talk about the other options. Regarding the 100x effectiveness: * Clean Air Task Force: $0.10-$1/tonne of CO2e. Source: Founders Pledge report 2018 [] * Coalition for Rainforest Nations: $0.02 - $0.72/tonne of CO2e. Source: Founders Pledge report 2018 [] * CoolEarth: $0.18-$0.71/tonne of CO2e. Source: GWWC report

Thanks Ben, great comment. 

Do you think this approach works across the board?  In my personal experience athletes are quite self-centred and asking for anything for free is a shock to them. So far, bringing up a percentage pledge has scared the vast majority of the athletes I've spoken to, despite giving myself as an example of someone for whom it works and feels good. Most have shied away from a percentage, asking to donate a discreet amount and maybe come in at a 1% pledge next year or the year after. 

Perhaps this response is only typical ... (read more)

Hi Marcus,

I don't have any experience with athletes, though I'd be surprised if they were unusually self-centred compared to other rich people.

Donating a % of winnings above a threshold might be better if income volatility is the worry. That's the approach Founder's Pledge and REG both use, which are also very relevant examples. (Note that FP started out with IIRC 2% as their default but now they don't have a specific percentage and try to suggest the idea of donating much more initially.) I could imagine a pitch like "if you win X big competition, how abo... (read more)

I am imagining this conversation: Marcus: you should donate 1% of your income Athlete: I don't want to commit to a percentage. How about a fixed dollar value for this year, and maybe a percentage later? Marcus: Sounds good. How much you you make? Athlete: I make $500k a year. Marcus: How about donating 10k then? That's a nice round number. 

Also, I would love to have a wide variety of athletes represented by HIA. As it's still very new I'm focusing outreach on those I have personal relationships with, which means tennis, which is predominantly white in the professional space at this point in time. I'm hoping that over time I can get in touch with a more diverse range of athletes from many different sports. 

Alex HT
Yep! I assumed this kind of thing was the case (and obviously was just flagging it as something to be aware of, not trying to finger-wag)

This is a good point and not one I'd thought of before. Thank you. 

Re 'saintly', it is intended as a joke. Do you think it's more offensive than funny? Or not worth the risk? 

Re diversity, I can't help that I'm the founder and I'm white, but having a more diverse advisory board sounds good. Do you have any ideas as to who would be good advisors for this sort of thing? Important to note that all the advisors are completely pro bono. 

Marcus Daniell
Changed! Thanks for the input
alex lawsen (previously alexrjl)
Sanjay [] has a lot of experience on the advisory/trustee side of charities. I'd recommend sending him a PM if you haven't already.
Alex HT
I don't find anything wrong at all with 'saintly' personally, and took it as a joke. But I could imagine someone taking it the wrong way. Maybe I'd see what others on the forum think

I would argue that most people reading the website are very wealthy - living in a western country almost inevitably qualifies you as very wealthy. For the main target audience - successful professional athletes - a 10% pledge would not change quality of life one whit. 

This is a huge discussion, so sorry for the very quick comment. Very happy about the idea of the project in general!

I'm pretty unsure that pledges around 1% are a good idea, especially among people who are already wealthy. In the US, people donate 2% of their income on average (and more altruistic people presumably start higher), and so getting someone to pledge 1% could easily reduce how much they give in total. (Since after they take the pledge, they might feel they've done their bit, and reduce informal donations.)

I think it's important to set the defau... (read more)

See below about casting the net - being an athlete myself and knowing many personally I think longtermism is too much of a stretch conceptually for most athletes at this point. 

I think if you focus on climate change and pandemics, it can actually seem really mainstream (especially now!).

Just don't mention AI :)

I think it would be really cool if you added a section on 'catastrophic risks' and used the recommended charities from Founder's Pledge – they have examples in pandemic prevention and climate risks - at least as an experiment.

Hi Alex, thanks for your comments! I'll reply to each. I'm aiming to cast the net as widely as possible within the athlete community. To me this means mixing the novel (effective altruism) with the known. I think it is also valid to say that the animal welfare charities represented have a large impact on the environment. 

Hi Linch,

By 'code' I mean sport. I've spoken to athletes from around 8 different sports thus far and have generally seen a lot of interest. But the big challenge is to go from hearing 'that's a cool idea' to 'how can I donate'.

I agree that inspiration and mentorship could both be huge, and I would also say that they begin from the same point of communication and education in the athlete community. The athletes can't pass on what they don't yet know.

I'd push back on the last paragraph here - granted, some sports are salary based and relatively financially secure from year to year. Tennis and many other individual sports are the opposite and purely based on how many matches you win. Given the huge expenses inherent in flying to tournaments and hiring coaches, many weeks are break-even or losses, even at the highest level. If dealing with this sort of uncertainty helps with EA alignment then it bodes well for approaching athletes from many individual sports.

Makes sense! How people deal with the uncertainty could also be informative. If they talk about calculating the expected value (in earnings) of a tournament, or expected points won from a shot, or get excited about sport statisticians' work generally - then that would be extra-encouraging.

Sounds like a good dude. Any idea how I could begin to approach someone like that? My area is tennis and I haven't had a huge amount of network crossover into football. Cheers

It looks like he is represented by Germany's Arena11, so my first three stops would be reaching out to Liverpool, its ownership group FSG, and Arena11. (Perhaps a German member of the EA community can help with running down an Arena11 contact who works with Björn Bezemer, his agent.) TBD if any of those three will reply... but those would be the first three avenues I'd try. [] []

Hi Ishaan, cool idea. At this point I'm not intending to set up officially as a tax-deductible charity. The athletes will be donating from all over the world, so creating a broad enough network of orgs would be a huge undertaking. At first I'm purely intending to act as an educator and a connector to the charities themselves. Perhaps down the line once this thing has more momentum it would make sense to talk to PPF. Thanks for the input!

Hi all, thought I'd jump in here with a few comments.

I think Ryan brings up a fair point in that the thought patterns of poker players may be MORE naturally aligned with EA than other sports. I do, however, think that pro athletes are more focused on optimisation and potential shortcuts than the average person, given how short sport careers are and how hugely impactful a good shortcut/efficiency can be on career earnings. The focus is always on 'better', and I think I can use a narrative along those lines to help bring other athletes into al... (read more)

I think the optimization mentality is a really big deal. There's a reason the deliberate practice [] literature focused on the sports and arts. To the extent that this is translatable to other endeavors (as you and jsteinhardt alludes to), this can be a really big deal for optimization endeavors in EA. What does "code" mean in this context? Different language codes [] spoken among different sportspeople? I think this makes a lot of sense. As Ryan and others have mentions, there might also be non-monetary EA goals that are useful as well, for example policy goals that are more cosmopolitan and future-oriented, or inspiring/mentoring [] future generations of researchers and policymakers.

Hi Aaron, yes that's me!

I've had a great chat with Stefan from REG who couldn't bring to mind any athletes outside of the poker space. I am basically trying to bring REG's model into the pro sport space (beginning with tennis due to my personal relationships there).

Phelps is an interesting one. No idea how I'd get in touch with him but if he's been exposed to the ideologies already he could be an easier ask than most.

Thanks for the reply!

Aaron Gertler
I haven't heard of Phelps being involved in anything EA-related since then, so I'd guess this was just a random charity event to him (one among many). Rob Mather of AMF organized the swim event, so he may know whether any of the high-level swimmers from that fundraiser continued to be involved with AMF afterwards.