Depends immensely on if you think there are EAs who could start billion-dollar companies, but would not be able to without EA funding. I.e. they're great founders, but can't raise money from VCs.
I think the core argument here is that not enough EAs try to start a company, as opposed to try and are rejected by VCs. IMO the point of seeding would be to take more swings.
Also, presumably the bar should be lower for an EA VC, because much of the founders' stake will also go to effective charity.
Would it not make sense to start some sort of 'EA Venture Capital' firm?
Surely more EAs would take this leap if provided with some runway/salary (in exchange for equity, which by this logic would be a phenomenal investment for patient philanthropy money)
I think I agree that only the last two should qualify, but presently I would assume a weaker definition is most common.
I suppose this can create a bad incentive where someone offering a counterfactual donation then has to make sure to do something not charitable with that money later on? I guess in my view a ‘counterfactual donation’ really only ever makes sense when you have a strong prior the money would not otherwise be put to similar use.
This is very cool! I share your view that comprehensive data is an important part of my personal e2g decision-making (and can be difficult to find).
If you haven't seen it already, this recent post by Ben Todd is probably the best source I know of as far as resource allocation.
Make a line plot of cumulative grants from Open Philanthropy (for each focus area individually and in total).Do all the same plots I have for Open Philanthropy for EA Funds as well.
I made a rough attempt to this effect earlier this year (there you can also find a link to the source co... (read more)
That all seems reasonable.
Shouldn’t the displacement value be a factor though? This might be wrong, but my thinking is (a) the replacement person in the $1M job will on average give little or nothing to effective charity (b) the switcher has no prior experience or expertise in non-profit, so presumably the next-best hire there is only marginally worse?
In reality I don't think we'd want to go that close to the breakeven point - because there may be better uses of money, due to the reputation costs of unusually high salaries, and because salaries are harder to lower than to raise (and so if uncertain, it's better to undershoot).
Good points, I agree it would be better to undershoot.
Still, even with the pessimistic assumptions, the high end of that $0.4-4M range seems quite unlikely.
Does 80k actually advise people making >$1M to quit their jobs in favor of entry-level EA work? If so, that would be a major update to my thinking.
Agreed, just a function of how many salaries you assume will have to be doubled alongside to fill that one position
(a) Hopefully, doubling ten salaries to fill one is not a realistic model. Each incremental wage increase should expand the pool of available labor. If the EA movement is labor-constrained, I expect a more modest raise would cause supply to meet demand.
(b) Otherwise, we should consider that the organization was paying only half of market salary, which perhaps inflated their ‘effectiveness’ in the first place. Taking half of your market pay is ... (read more)
Doubling costs to get +10% labour doesn't seem like a great deal
I agree in principal, but in this case the alternative is eliminating$400k-4M of funding, which is much more expensive than doubling the salary of e.g. a research assistant.
To be clear, I am more so skeptical of this valuation than I am actually suggesting doubling salaries. But conditional on the fact that one engaged donor entering the non-profit labor force is worth >$400k, seems like the right call.
For each person in a leadership role, there’s typically a need for at least several people in the more junior versions of these roles or supporting positions — e.g. research assistants, operations specialists, marketers, ML engineers,...I’d typically prefer someone in these roles to an additional person donating $400,000–$4 million per year
If this is true, why not spend way more on recruiting and wages? It's surprising to me that the upper bound could be so much larger than equivalent salary in the for-profit sector.
I might be missing something, but ... (read more)
Thanks for writing, and I agree it would be great to see more like this in future.
It does seem like 'ideal portfolio of resources' vs 'ideal split of funds donated this year' can be quite a bit different—perhaps a question for next time?
(see here for some similar funding estimates)
Thanks for sharing! I like the way you phrased it in the interview, I think that’s a nice way to start.
I totally forgot about that article, thank you for pointing it out! That is an excellent resource.
Your concern totally makes sense. Something I've been thinking about lately is whether EA should make a more concerted effort to promote 'streams' of varying fidelity intended for audiences which are coming from very different places.
Put another way: say I have a co-worker who every year gives to traditional, community-based charitable orgs, and has never considered giving that money elsewhere. Is this person more likely to spend the time on excell... (read more)
I see now that this and a couple other points were mentioned in Repledge++. One more I would add to the list:
'Relative advantage' in cash vs percentage terms could be a sticking point. In the case of a $10M/$8M split, giving $2M/$0 to the respective candidates seems unfair to candidate B, because $2M is infinitely more than $0 in percentage terms. Say this money was going to ad buys, instead of running 100 vs 80 ad spots, candidate A now runs 20 spots vs zero for candidate B, and is the only candidate on the airwaves.
I would argue that a fair split would b... (read more)
I like the idea of political contributions going to charity, though I can't help thinking about the game theory implications here:
If I (a left-leaning person who prefers charity to political donations) felt strongly that much more money would come in on the Democrat side, I imagine I'd route my usual donation through this platform under the Republican candidate.
I guess it's difficult to imagine an actual Republican contributing to this platform unless they preferred giving to charity anyway. Arguably this platform would then only deplete the funds of one candidate (the Democrat), with much of the funds intended for charity in the first place. But still, to be clear, this would be a net positive contribution IMO.
Not taking a side here, but couldn't you get around this by framing your values as 'maximizing sum of global utility'? This way there is no need to make a comparison between Joe and [absence of Joe]; I can simply say that Joe's existence has caused my objective function to increase.
Thanks for the reply, definitely gives me a lot to consider.
"Cause area" is also a pretty weird/arbitrary unit of analysis
Personally, I quite like the cause area distinction. One alternate definition I might propose is that a cause area is a subset of interventions which are plausibly cross-comparable. Direct comparisons across these cause areas are flimsy at best, and even if I felt strongly that one of them was the most effective, I would still value each of the others receiving non-trivial funding for the purposes of (a) hedging (b) worldview diversific... (read more)
Also, while Open Phil's donations to GiveWell have remained at a similar level, the amount they direct to the EA movement as a whole has grown substantially:
I was thinking along very similar lines with 'Limitations' #1. It would be much better to model this as a contribution function in four dimensions, rather than only counting 'EA dollars'.
Not only would this require more data, but one would need to assign a multiplier to each separate intervention à la GiveWell moral weights. What fraction of a 'Global Health' dollar is counted when Bill Gates funds vaccine research? Could be interesting for future work.
I estimate $263 Million as of 2020.