Melanie Basnak

Senior Research Manager @ Rethink Priorities
425 karmaJoined Working (0-5 years)


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Thanks for asking Devon! 

On the margin, our commissioned reports cost ~$7,000-$30,000 depending on the scope (this particular report being on the lower end of that spectrum). That being said, we don't take in every commissioned work that comes our way and only have the capacity to take on a few projects at this price because: (1) we have longer term agreements with a couple of organizations for which we do a lot of work, (2) we want our team to have the capacity to pursue independent projects we think are promising.

That being said, you're always welcome to reach out if there are specific projects you are interested in. We always welcome new ideas and look forward to connecting with new individuals/organizations :)

Thanks for your comment Ariel. We haven’t attempted to assess the value of different population ethics views, or how those would affect the (cost-)effectiveness of FEM’s work. We believe that that is a highly complex topic that would take more time than the short period we had to conduct this research. Work on this would benefit from the Worldview Investigations Team at Rethink Priorities, which could explore family planning topics in the future. I'm sorry we neglected to add that to the editorial note and disclaimer. I will edit it to reflect this.

Hi Vasco, I apologize for the delayed response. Because of capacity constraints, we can’t always address all comments, so we prioritize them based on relevance/importance and upvotes. To answer your question, we don’t currently address the effects of the interventions on animals. As we mention in the post, most of our work to date has been commissioned. Because of this, the questions we seek to answer and the scope associated with those questions are often decided by the client (though we only work with value-aligned clients, in topics we think are relevant and could be impactful). So far, our clients haven’t wanted us to assess the effect of potential interventions on animals, and we haven’t done so. If we encountered prospective clients interested in this topic, or if RP was interested in conducting internal research on this topic, this is something that would likely fall under the new Worldview Investigations Team, since because of their mission and expertise they are better positioned to tackle this question. I encourage you to stay tuned to their future research and invite you to join our newsletter in case WIT publishes topics of interest to you! Thank you for your interest and for sharing your estimates.

Hi Carl, thank you!

How do you select projects and how are you funded? 

We work a lot with Open Philanthropy. We believe in their mission and see a clear path to impact through them. We are value aligned, and are usually also aligned in terms of topics of interest/topics we think could be impactful to look into. We have a long-term arrangement with them and they commission projects from us. We also work with other clients, usually on a project-basis. For these other clients, the projects have been a mix of either them asking for a specific project, us pitching a specific project, or a combination (e.g. each party shares a list of projects). We decide to move forward with a commissioned project if we think it could be impactful (either because we are aligned with the funder and see the path to impact through their decision-making, because we think the topic is important and it could be impactful to publish research on it, or usually both of those).

Do you do commissioned work or pro-bono work or both? 
Our team mostly does commissioned work, though we have started doing some internal research which is self-driven but hopes to be helpful for the community. We would like to do more of it, but need more unrestricted funds to do so.

Are you a business or an NGO? 

We are an NGO

What would be the (ballpark) cost of a 6-week project? 

This depends on the size of the organization commissioning the project, and whether it's a standalone project or we have a longer term contract with them.