Matthew Burnett

14Joined Aug 2022


Charitable giving epistemology or doing your due diligence

I was just reading the 80,000 Hours email on how they could have seen the warning signs with FTX and whether EA has made any mistakes taking his money. I think it is a worthwhile question, but the answer will seem like a Gordian knot unless you separate two distinct issues.

The only way to avoid something any future SBFs is to look at the books. It's the only way that EA could have really known about SBF's problems beforehand too. This is obviously a good way to kill off a lot of charitable giving. 'Don't look a gift horse in the mouth' is a good rule of thumb, and it isn't feasible to look through everyone's finances.

Quite frankly, EA doesn't need to worry about most of their givers' finances. SBF isn't notable just for the amount of his giving, but because he purposefully used EA as his own branding. And that's really where EA's crisis is coming from. They willingly let SBF drape himself in the EA flag and now EA is suffering the reputational fallout as well.

EA needs to develop some clear principles on who to publicly associate with. You need to have requirements for looking through their books and seeing if there are any skeletons in their closet. Otherwise, anyone can donate anything they want to, but it will be anonymous and EA will explicitly disavow knowledge of anyone's giving. "All giving to our organization is anonymous, so we can neither confirm nor deny the charitable giving of SBF wannabe 2."