756 karmaJoined Mar 2021Working (6-15 years)Belsize Park, London NW3, UK


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Happy to chat about my experience in quant trading, living in Chicago/London


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Some of the comments here are suggesting that there is in fact tension between promoting donations and direct work. The implication seems to be that while donations are highly effective in absolute terms, we should intentionally downplay this fact for fear that too many people might 'settle' for earning to give.

Personally, I would much rather employ honest messaging and allow people to assess the tradeoffs for their individual situation. I also think it's important to bear in mind that downplaying cuts both ways—as Michael points out, the meme that direct work is overwhelmingly effective has done harm.

There may be some who 'settle' for earning to give when direct work could have been more impactful, and there may be some who take away that donations are trivial and do neither. Obviously I would expect the former to be hugely overrepresented on the EA Forum.

If you expect to take in $3-6M by the end of this year, borrowing say $300k against that already seems totally reasonable.

Not sure if this is possible, but I for one would be happy to donate to LTFF today in exchange for a 120% regrant to the Animal Welfare Fund in December[1]

  1. ^

    This would seem to be an abuse of the Open Phil matching, but perhaps that chunk can be exempt

the comparison-in-practice I'm imagining is (say) $100k real dollars that we're aware of now vs $140k hypothetical dollars

That is very different from the question that Caleb was answering—I can totally understand your preference for real vs hypothetical dollars.

So these are all reasons that funding upfront is strictly better than in chunks, and I certainly agree. I'm just saying that as a donor, I would have a strong preference for funding 14 researchers in this suboptimal manner vs 10 of similar value paid upfront, and I'm surprised that LTFF doesn't agree.

Perhaps there are some cases where funding in chunks would be untenable, but that doesn't seem to be true for most on the list. Again, I'm not saying there is no cost to doing this, but if the space is really funding-constrained as you say 40% of value is an awful lot to give up. Is there not every chance that your next batch of applicants will be just as good, and money will again be tight?

A quick scan of the marginal grants list tells me that many (most?)[1] of these take the form of a salary or stipend over the course of 6-12 months. I don't understand how the time-value of money could be so out of whack in this case—surely you could grant say half of the requested amount, then do another round in three months once the large donors come around?[2]

  1. ^

    As for the rest, I don't see anything on the list that wouldn't exist in three months.

  2. ^

    Daniel's comment says "there are a whole host of issues" with this approach. I'd be curious to know what those are, and how they aren't worth unlocking 40% additional value.

IDK 160% annualized sounds a bit implausible. Surely in that world someone would be acting differently (e.g. recurring donors would roll some budget forward or take out a loan)?

I would be curious to hear from someone on the recipient side who would genuinely prefer $10k in hand to $14k in three months' time.

Regarding the funding aspect:

  • As far as I can tell, Open Phil has always given the majority of their budget to non-longtermist focus areas.
    • This is also true of the EA portfolio more broadly.
  • GiveWell has made grants to less established orgs for several years, and that amount has increased dramatically of late.

IMHO seems possible to be rigorous with imaginary money, as some are with prediction markets or fantasy football. Particularly so if the exercise feels critical to the success of the platform.

I think the site looks great btw, just pushing back on this :)

Could you not dogfood just as easily with $50 (or fake money in a dev account)?

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