Why I'm concerned about Giving Green

Thank you to Alex for writing this piece, which I think is really helpful.

I am a Founder and Director of SoGive. We support donors to achieve more impact, and we influence c£1m per annum, the majority of which is from a very small number of major donors.

In this comment, I will say that I think the thrust of Alex's concerns are valid and still stand, to my mind. But first:

I want to take my hat off to the guys at Giving Green. 

My first tentative forays into getting SoGive going were as early as 2015 and the official start date was 2017, so it's taken a long time to get to where we are. By contrast Giving Green has achieved a much higher profile than we have, and they've achieved it quickly. I would also say that Giving Green's analytical capabilities are ahead of where we were in 2016. Furthermore, the team is still only working on Giving Green in their spare time, so their progress is impressive.

While achieving traction quickly is great, I question whether Giving Green has achieved their traction too quickly.

For the first several years of our existence, SoGive's recommendations were solely borrowed from other better-resourced organisations like GiveWell, and we're only now in the process of updating our website to reflect our own analysis.

And of course just because SoGive is doing things one way, it doesn't mean that that way is right. But there are reasons for our cautious approach.

I believe it is premature for Giving Green to put equal emphasis on recommendations where there is an EA consensus (like CATF) and recommendations where Giving Green is going out on a limb (like TSM).

I have had a small number of conversations with the Giving Green team now, and I think they are good guys who could create a good analytical organisation given time.

And on some of the points that Dan made in this thread, I have sympathies with his position. For example, on Climeworks, he made the point that "you are betting on the technology, not the company". Contra Alex, I think this is a reasonable argument in favour of the claim that one of the Metaculus forecasts is not analytically helpful. (although doesn't support Dan's claim that both are irrelevant)

Having said that, the majority of Alex's concerns still stand, to my mind.

Furthermore, I have read some of the Giving Green analysis, and believe that Alex's list of concerns would be longer, if only there were time to do a more detailed review.

I'm conscious that reading much of this thread may feel punishing for the Giving Green team. However I really am positive about the long-term potential for this project.

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

There is a low cost to signing the petition, so no harm in doing so.

However a petition will have minimal upside too.

No MP will be surprised to know that some people are in favour of maintaining the 0.7%, but they will largely imagine those people to lefties who would never vote for a Conservative MP anyway.

Emails to your MP are more valuable because they help to bring you, an aid supporter, to life.

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks Matt. One of our team is in close contact with Oxfam. Thank you.

Update on the 0.7% (£4bn for the poor)

Thanks for your message sindirella.

Our approach came about as a result of conversations with people who know generally what works best in influencing lawmakers/lobbying, and specifically in the UK.

Agreed with alexrjl re opinion polls. Implementing a poll/survey is straightforward for us (I used to run a research team when I was a strategy consultant). The reason we're not doing it is that our discussions with experts suggest that there is not much value in doing this.

Update on the 0.7% (£4bn for the poor)

Great question! We want to do this, but there are a few practicalities we are working through. Also I think your experience would be really valuable for us -- I'll ping you a message.

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks for the suggestion. 

We reached out to that MP and several other MPs and parliamentarians in the days immediately after the announcement, and are also in conversation with several NGOs active in this space, and other groups.

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks for asking OHR. One idea is set out in the comment which starts "Thank you very much Will K and Id25 for asking how you can help."

However a group of us have had our first meeting and in practice we have all been thinking through the connections and communities we belong to and working out ways to activate and work with them.

If anyone has the capacity to help, it would be great to have you involved. Ping me an email on sanjay_joshi { a t } 

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thank you very much Will K and Id25 for asking how you can help.

Based on the conversations I've had with people thus far, I think the gap is for organisers/liaisers. I.e.

  • we will run some social media ads
  • most ads viewers will do nothing, some of the ad viewers will send an email to their MP (as requested), some will want to engage more
  • For those who want to engage more, we'll need people to talk with them -- these are the organisers/liaisers. We don't know yet how many of these people will be needed.

At the time I wrote this post, I thought there might be a gap for analysis, but I suspect that gap might not exist after all.

If you are interested in helping out, please send me a message via the EA Forum or directly to sanjay_joshi { a t }

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks very much!

  • Timeline -- fairly urgent. There will be a bill going to parliament to change the law, and I don't think anyone knows exactly when that will be, but it can't be this side of Christmas (nothing works that quickly) and it will probably be before April (which is when the financial year starts). Given that they want it to go through and may anticipate opposition, I would guess late January.
  • Plan: which Tory MPs are relevant: for those which are bound to follow the whip (either because they always follow the whip, or because they are dead against international development) we don't touch them -- there's no point. For those who are more on the fence, probably still little value, as the whip is probably fairly strong (I haven't investigated that last claim very closely, so if anyone has opposing opinions I would be interested to hear them). For those who are against, but who might only abstain rather than rebel (which is what mostly happened when the Conservative party wanted the right to break international law), influencing them to rebel instead of abstain will help. The ask: I think we have two asks: (1) vote against reducing the 0.7% (2) An amendment to the bill so that if it does go ahead, it is written into the Bill that it should be temperary (which is what Rishi said anyway).  Budget: as we're using google/facebook ads (and not hiring people) there aren't any "chunked-up" elements of spend -- it's all smoothly spendable. In other words, the more the merrier. If we have only a few thousand, we can use it. If we have a bit more or a lot more, we can use it.
  • Will the government win: I have discussed this with a few people and heard differing opinions. I don't have a strong opinion on how likely this is.
  • Lessons from previous campaigns: I haven't studied previous campaigns, but I've spoken to some NGOs working in this space and the thinking that they have outlined is pretty similar to the plan I set out above. So their implicit learning from previous campaigns is supportive
Net value of saving a child's life from a negative utilitarian perspective?

I don't think they do. I seem to remember that this topic was debated some time back and GiveWell clarified their view that they don't see it this way, but rather they just consider the immediate impact of saving a life as an intrinsic good. (although I would be more confident claiming that this is a fair representation of GiveWell's views if I could find the place where they said this, and I can't remember where it is, so apologies if I'm misremembering)

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