150 karmaJoined Jan 2015


There are many factors going into that issue, but I think the biggest are the bottlenecks within the pipeline that brings money from OP to individual donation opportunities. Most directly, OP has a limited staff and a lot of large, important grants to manage. They often don't have the spare attention, time, or energy to solicit, vet, and manage funding to the many individuals and small organizations that need funding.

LTFF and other grantmakers have similar issues. The general idea is that just there are many inefficiencies in the grantmaker -> ??? -> grantee market. The market is especially inefficient for funding opportunities that are small (because the fixed costs of granting remain high) and weird (because the downside risk is magnified for large grantmakers).

Worse, I hear that a big issue is that everyone asks this same question "Why aren't you already funded by [funders that are not me]?" of new ventures who lack existing personal connections to the big funders, which leads them to never get off the ground.

Last week there was a post on "The Future Might Not Be So Great" that made similar points as this post.

This may be an issue for other EA organisations. For instance, New Harvest recently called an "emergency town hall" because of "this recent economic downturn" where they need to shift "from a growth mindset to survival mode" and "staff cuts are unavoidable."

That seems right, but I might be more inclined to push back against this kind of norm. I find on Reddit that I can be quite straightforward and brief, and people don't downvote based on their interpretation of the feelings of the commenter. I would like to encourage that sort of norm on the EAF, rather than the norms that (as I see! and I could be wrong) focus on excessive positivity towards established views of the community as it currently stands.

That sounds right to me and seems consistent with my original comment.

Thank you. I was just estimating PhDs based on their bios.

Thank you. I was just estimating PhDs based on their bios.

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That sounds broadly correct, but just for clarification, my question was about capacity-building impact, not current spending and research output. For example, RP funding contributes to the research experience of their staff, and RP staff might be considerably less likely to stay in the animal welfare cause area than researchers at other animal charities. So there might be more spillover of this long-term impact than is reflected in the current budget breakdown.

This is especially likely if RP itself shifts its funding allocation in the future.

RP seems to err more towards quantity of research over quality than other organizations. Is this your impression as well? Is this a conscious decision? Do you think other EA research organizations should also steer in that direction, or does it reflect RP's niche?

For example, Global Priorities Institute seems to prioritize high-quality research that will help garner momentum for longtermist work in academia, such as journal articles published by PhDs (compare to RP's large number of blog post research and having, I believe, only one PhD on staff (edit: according to MichaelStJules, there are 2 PhDs on staff)). Of course work in peer-reviewed journals with academic training might not necessarily reflect higher quality, so I know this hinges on one's view of the various metrics of "quality" we have available.

How do you think about your role as a research organization working across different cause areas?

Personally, I have considered donating to Rethink Priorities. But I care a lot about capacity-building with organizations, so I tend to donate to the other animal welfare EA research organizations such as Animal Charity Evaluators and Sentience Institute. My impression is that while RP is currently focused on animal welfare, a substantial part of the impact of my donations might spillover too much into cause areas that are personally less of a priority to me, such as x-risk and global poverty.

Of course there may be benefits to working across different cause areas, such as the ability to learn methodologies and data from one issue that have relevance to another. So it's not at all clear how this shakes out, even for supporters who focus on one cause area. What do you think?

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