Hi Luis, thank you for writing this up! I think it's a well-written forum post that clarifies important distinctions and makes valuable points, and on a topic that AFAIK is being considered and discussed by many people in the community currently.
I agree with most of your points. In fact, I've come around on one that we previously disagreed on, namely on defining "local priorities research" more restrictively than how many people are currently using it: I now see more of the value of having "local" in LPR clearly refer to the altruistic scope rather than the resources being prioritised, consistent and contrasting with the "global" in GPR referring to the global altruistic scope.
There are two further comments/suggestions I'd like to make:
Consider using a different name than "contextualization research"
I think adding new terminology that isn't immediately clear should be avoided whenever possible, and CR isn't self-explanatory nor does defining this new term look unavoidable to me. I think using something like "resource-specific GPR" or "targeted GPR" - though a mouthful - is much clearer than CR, because (1) the terms themselves are more self-explanatory (including by using the word "priorities") and (2) it's immediately clear that they refer to a subset of GPR.
There may be cases in which "pure" LPR is worth doing for local groups
I expect there are cases in which it will be worth doing LPR (according to your new restricted definition) as a local group from the perspective of doing the most good impartially even when it doesn't overlap with CR/resource-specific GPR. In other words, I expect there to be cases where doing "pure" LPR would be a recommendation coming out of doing resource-specific GPR for a local group.
Take your Latin American example: my guess is it will often be valuable to do the type of research you link to there even if you expect not to find anything close to competitive to GW top charities, and even if there isn't a large pot of restricted funds that may be influenced by it.
A few reasons for doing LPR in such a case could be:
showing one cares and is knowledgeable about local problems before making the claim one should focus on other geographies or cause areas
substantiating and better being able to communicate the claim that donations go further in those other countries or cause areas
using this as a training opportunity for charity researchers who could later move on to charity evaluation that would qualify as GPR
As we've discussed elsewhere there are clear trade-offs and risks for engaging in LPR at a local group level (e.g. opportunity costs, risk of motivated reasoning or value drift) - so I share your caution in recommending this as an activity. However, I don't think a blanket recommendation against doing (well-considered and careful) LPR at a local group level is justified either, for the above reasons.
Ok, sounds good, I've added you to the list; looking forward to what CEARCH will come up with!
Thanks Joel, happy to add CEARCH; just a quick check: are you planning/aiming to publish funding opportunity recommendations this year? (the aim for this list is to really be about publicly available funding opportunities; e.g. it doesn't include Rethink Priorities even though they do related/relevant research)
Thanks for the suggestions Nicole!
Thanks for pointing at this! We'll make sure to ask GW about this at our next point of contact -i.e. whether they think we should recommend SCI/deworming charities given our different bar and their cost-effectiveness analysis - and this may lead us to change the status of these charities.
Hi Jeff, thanks for another helpful suggestion! (previous one) In this case, I agree there is room for improvement, and we'll aim to update our inclusion criteria throughout 2023 and to provide more details where we can. The reasons this particular thing isn't in there yet are (1) we simply haven't prioritised writing this out yet, as it is quite detailed/applies to just one of the four "cause areas" we cover and to just one evaluator (FP) and it would require quite a bit of extra context to explain to the broad audience we try to reach (e.g. laying out what we mean by these ratings, what is measured, limitations etc.) which was beyond the scope we were able to set for this giving season (during which we already had a lot of things to update with a small team) (2) this relies on FP's internal ratings and I'm not sure whether FP would want these to be public, e.g. given how rough they are/how much context they need/to avoid over-updating, but I'll leave it to them to respond on that point.
On SCI specifically, my recollection is that GiveWell's November 2021 analysis is no longer current/that SCI has made significant changes to its programme since that evaluation was done, though I'm not 100% sure. In any case, for the deworming charities more generally we decided to stick closely with our inclusion criteria, which meant not recommending them as top-rated (because they don't clear GW's nor FP's current bar at this moment/they weren't recommended to us by either) and listing until we receive FP's updated estimates. This seemed the better option in particular because we know FP will have updated estimates relatively soon, and IIRC they don't expect all deworming charities to necessarily clear the 3x bar (though again referring to them here for a response, if they are willing to comment before finalizing the evaluation). Hope that clarifies!
Thanks again for this suggestion Jeff! However, for reasons mostly outlined in my comment here (under (4)) GWWC's position remains that we should not restrict charity recommendations only to those who have a recent public evaluation available. I'd be interested in any more arguments coming out of this discussion that would update our view though, and these could feed into a revision of our inclusion criteria later this year.
There's one thing I'd like to add - based on the emphasis of your new post: as you mention, there are multiple reasons why people choose to donate to charities over funds, even while we generally think that donating to funds will be the higher-impact option. I think I have lower credence than you seem to have in "not trusting funds" being the most prominent one, but even if it is, I don't think the current situation is problematic for donors for whom this is the main reason: those donors can easily see whether a particular top-rated charity has a recent public evaluation available (e.g. this will be highlighted on its charity page on the GWWC website), and adjust their decisions accordingly. By keeping the current policy, the "top-rated" label remains representative of where we expect money will actually do the most good, rather than it being adjusted for a subgroup of donors who have a lower trust in funds.
(As an aside, I don't see why the other reasons you mention for giving to charities (e.g. tax deductibility) would be more characteristic of "sophisticated and committed" donors than having a view on whether or not to trust particular evaluators/funds)
Yeah agreed. And another one could be as a way of getting involved more closely with a particularly charity when one wants to provide other types of support (advice, connections) in addition to funding. E.g. even though I don't think this should help a lot, I've anecdotally found it helpful to fund individual charities that I advise, because putting my personal donation money on the line motivates me to think even more critically about how the charity could best use its limited resources.
Thanks again for engaging in this discussion so thoughtfully Jeff! These types of comments and suggestions are generally very helpful for us (even if I don't agree with these particular ones).
I like that one!