Applied Researcher at Founders Pledge
This looks great! Thanks for setting it up.
Just a heads up, these hyperlinks in the FAQ are broken (and "founderspledge.com" has a typo in the text).
(These are my personal views, not Founders Pledge's.)
I'm out of my depth here too, but there are rules around what DAFs can and can't grant to. My understanding is that once the money is in the DAF, it is committed to the charitable sector at some point.
The DAF-critical people in the NYT article are assuming that it's better to donate money now than in the future. That could be wrong even for people who aren't longtermists, like if you think we're learning more about how to best have an impact in the animal welfare or development space over time. For the Investing to Give report FP surveyed grantmakers from multiple worldviews about how they expected the cost-effectiveness of the best giving opportunities in their field to change over time. Most expected there to be better opportunities in the future (see section 2.5 of the full report).
As a community that has thought quite a bit about the timing of donations, I do think we have something to contribute to this conversation. I also recognize the communications risks. But doubling the disbursement requirements for private foundations seems like it could have serious implications for EA giving. I'd at least be interested in seeing somebody think through whether those implications are serious enough that it's worth getting involved.
This might not be a very original question, but how have his views about Big Push approaches to poverty reduction evolved over time? I'd find it interesting to hear a discussion of how (or if) he consciously updates his views as new and often conflicting evidence about such theories emerges over time.
For data on employment programs in poor countries, check out section 2 of this very good review by Blattman and Ralston. They review evaluations of job training programs, a very popular development intervention, and generally find very small or null effects:
“Training” is probably one of the most ubiquitous employment interventions. What is striking, however, is that there are very few examples of evaluated programs that have had positive effects, at least on men. It is even more difficult to find any that pass a cost-benefit test, for men or women. [p. 8]
You could probably look through some of the citations there to find specific examples of programs that didn't have an impact, e.g.:
at least 4.5 million people in 100 countries have taken part in the ILO’s Start & Improve Your Business (SIYB) programme alone. Unfortunately there is little evidence these programs have any effect where they matter most: on sales or profits. [p. 9]
The fact that so many people decline opportunities to participate in these programs, or dropout after starting, is especially concerning. An interesting example comes from Pakistan’sSkills for Employability program. Even among poor households who expressed interest invocational skills, more than 95% did not enroll when given a voucher [p. 10]
I'll just note that it's not all bad news: some of the specific programs they review had positive effects. In particular, programs that provide beneficiaries with capital goods, either instead of or in addition to training, seem to be more positive.
In contrast to skills training programs, such capital-centric programs are relatively rare—so rare, in fact, that none appeared in a recent text analysis of all employment interventions in the World Bank. Yet the evidence from more and more program evaluations is that capital-centric programs can stimulate self-employment cost-effectively. [p. 13]
This is a big reason why Founders Pledge recommends the Graduation approach, a capital-centric job training program, in our Women's Empowerment report!
Ogden works with Innovations for Poverty Action (and, incidentally, is on GiveWell's board). I'm not sure he'd identify as a randomista but seems very likely he's favourable to RCTs.
Hi Natasha, I'm really glad you guys are working on this! Thanks for the time and effort you've put in so far.
I wondered if you've discussed things people can do other than emailing MPs - maybe donating to orgs advocating against this change, or getting together to write an op-ed with a public figure?
I bet many people reading this post live in more liberal/urban areas with MPs who are already likely to vote against this measure (e.g. I'm in an incredibly safe Labour seat). I'm also struck and dismayed by the data that a majority of voters from each UK party support cutting the aid budget. Makes me think that efforts to sway public opinion might be important, too.
Some things worth adding might be:
Nice work Devon! This is a great collection of resources. I like the clarity and directness of the document.
I understand that you want to meet people where they are and not push a particular view too hard, but I don't think it would hurt to put more emphasis on the things you think are most impactful. In particular, my guess is that getting a small number of people to change jobs or donate more is more important than getting a larger number of people to become mentors or something like that. So I think it would be good to add a couple of sentences in the career change and donating sections just emphasizing how much good one can do by taking these actions. Another way to do this without coming across too strongly could be to use concrete examples. Perhaps 80K has some go-to stories of people who have changed careers. You can also talk a bit about specific charities to make the idea of "doing good" more tangible.
I would also combine the "Take a Pledge" section with the earlier section about donating.
Thanks for this great comment! I agree with you on neglectedness, I think the field is so broad that by looking at high-level funding we're probably counting a lot of stuff that isn't relevant directly to the question of "would there by impactful work that's currently unfunded?", which is waht we actually care about.
Agree also our list of potential orgs working in the space is a bit random and probably misses some good, relevant funding opportunities. Thanks for the info about ODI and IDinsight, too.
My concern with wading into specific evaluations is less about establishing a credible/plausible causal link, and more about collecting enough data to build a proper counterfactual. My impression is that substantial policy changes often involve many different organisations, departments, and people, and it's hard to work out whose presence made a difference. Our decision to stop short at this time was based heavily on our colleagues' evaluations for climate organisations, which required a huge investment to confidently work out whose impact was truly counterfactual.
In any case, I'd love to speak more about your experience in the field if we take this work further - if you're interested in that, please feel free to DM me so we can keep in touch.
Hi Marcus, congratulations on the launch of HIA! It looks like you've sourced some of your climate recommendations from us (Founders Pledge). This is great and we're excited for you to use our research, of course! It's worth noting that our 3 current climate recommendations are CATF, Carbon 180, and TerraPraxis. I just want to make sure you're using our most up-to-date research rather than the old report, which is a bit out of date now.
Please do reach out if you have any questions about this, or any of our other recommendations! If you'd like to speak more about how we think about pledging, including thresholds, escalating pledges, etc., I also might be able to help with that.