Sebastian Schwiecker

Founder & CEO @ Effektiv Spenden
1162 karmaJoined Mar 2019Working (15+ years)Berlin, Deutschland

Bio

CEO & Founder of effektiv-spenden.org

Comments
46

Just to make sure I understand you correctly: Where or how exactly do you think we "arbitrarily limit" ourselves or our fund (besides planning to continue to comply with the applicable non-profit laws in the countries we are working in)?

I agree that there are some interventions like calling for the banning of a certain party might be net negative, even if they seem appealing at first sight. I also think that it can be possible and laudable to defend the rights of people you strongly disagree with like the ACLU does (or used to do -> haven't really followed them lately)

I'm not in the lead with regard to the research but one advantage of the fund is that we can take room for more funding into account. E.g. we think very highly of CORRECTIV but since they recently got a lot of (well deserved) attention their room to use additional funds might be limited very soon (might already be the case).

Might not convince you but afaik the effective giving space (GWWC, TLYCS, Effektiv Spenden and others ) has experienced basically zero or even negative growth in the last 2 years.

AMF is even down more than 50% year over year and in general there are probably few if any markets where effective giving has reached even 0.1% of all donations.

I consider this extremely disappointing and that's why I'm open to experiments on how to reach (much) more people.

Besides there are many people in EA who believe that money directed at avoiding x-risks will go > 10x further than trying to fight extreme poverty. Might be true but I still don't think we should get rid of all the GiveWell recommended charities on Effektiv Spenden (probably even for their instrumental value alone).

I didn't do the research and I don't want to speculate to much, but I think most if not all charity evaluators initially had some kind of bias towards organizations based in the same country as their research staff. One obvious reason is that it's just easier because you don't have to start completely from scratch (especially relevant if resources are very limited).

Future research of Power for Democracies will be less funding restrained and can therefore be more ambitious.

Seems like we didn't articulate clearly enough why we exclusively focus on Germany at the moment.

I totally agree that it's very unlikely "that Germany is currently the place where money goes furthest towards the goal of defending democracy". Indeed we expect that Power for Democracies will mostly (or exclusively) recommend charities not working in Germany in the future. Unfortunately Power for Democracies is currently still in its initial hiring round and probably won't produce any robust recommendation till 2025. The research that has been done in the last 2 years (and which let to the foundation of Power for Democracies) was mainly based on Germany though. Therefore we currently feel more comfortable recommending giving opportunities in Germany with regards to defending democracy but we try to make it clear that this is temporarily. Also we try to emphasize  that the research our democracy donation fund is based on is not as good as the research other cause areas (that's also the reason we added a "Beta" label to the fund in our donation form).

With regards to your other point we expect to continue to limit ourselves to recommend giving opportunities that are tax exempt in the countries we are working in. E.g. we are also not recommending investment opportunities etc. even if that would potentially be more effective to reach our goals (like investing in AI companies etc.).

 

Germany so far is probably less polarized than other countries (e.g. the US). Currently there is only one far right party with significant reach (AFD) currently polling around 19% nationally.

The main conservative party (CDU) and the conservative leaning economically liberal party (FDP) are currently clearly and credibly distancing themselves from the AFD. We even embedded an interview from one of the most prominent FDP members (Gerhart Baum) in one of our blog posts about how we think about defending democracy.

So while we still might risk our reputation with up to 20% of the electorate I assume that it’s far less than 20% of the people we might ever reach with the idea of effective giving anyway (especially in cause areas other than global health and development).

On the other side I hope this endeavor will help us introduce many new people to effective giving who would not otherwise have heard about it (because we will show up on the radar of additional journalists, some donors will more actively share our website etc.).


 

Totally agree. We are currently supporting Charity Entrepreneurship (and others like GWWC) in this endeavour (see e.g. https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ME4ihqRojjuhprejm/effective-giving-incubation-apply-to-ce-and-gwwc-s-new). Belgium is definitely on the list.

As Jason wrote, legally it's a non-binding recommendation by the person who receives the voucher + if we don't receive such a recommendation within 12 month after the code was created the money (donation) goes to GiveWells All Grants Fund. So it's not a DAF (which don't exist in Germany anyway). If you really want to donate now but decide where the money should go (much) later we have a different product: https://effektiv-spenden.org/blog/effektiv-spenden-depot/ (also not a real DAF though).

Thanks for the reply.

I get why EAGs are not optimized for parents (still unfortunate in my case). What surprises me even more though is that at least my reading of your comment suggests that for most EAG attendees EA is still a side hustle (otherwise it would be part of their jobs or studies to attend an EA conference).

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