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#GivingTuesday: Counter-Factual Donation Matching is the Lowest-Hanging Fruit in Effective Giving

Self-described effective altruists in the latest EA Survey reported $9.8 million in donations in 2016. However, most of these donations were not matched counter-factually. That is, most of the donations did not generate matching funds representing new money towards effective nonprofits as a whole.

Given the existence of counter-factual donation matching opportunities like Facebook’s upcoming #GivingTuesday matching campaign, this is a massive missed opportunity. Up to $2 million total in donations to nonprofits will be matched by Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation starting on Nov 28 at 8 AM EST.

By donating to the most effective nonprofit you know of through a Facebook fundraiser on Tuesday soon after 8 AM EST rather than donating directly to the nonprofit at a later time, you can cause part of the $2 million available in matching funds to go to that effective nonprofit also rather than let it go to a nonprofit of average effectiveness. This is a huge opportunity to substantially increase the amount of funding that the world’s most effective nonprofits receive merely by donating in the right place at the right time.

There is a $50,000 matching limit on each nonprofit and a $1,000 matching limit on each fundraiser so some coordination is necessary for us to take advantage of this opportunity and make our donations go nearly twice as far. Here’s how you can help:

Comments (4)

Comment author: Denkenberger 26 November 2017 07:15:05PM 4 points [-]

Thanks for letting us know about this great opportunity! While I'm waiting to be approved for the Facebook group, is there any way to find out how much money is going to be chasing the $2 million match? Since this is not just EAs and there appear to be hundreds of charities listed, it could easily be $100 million, so then do you think we will have something like 3 minutes or 3 seconds to do the donation before the $2 million match limit is reached?

Comment author: WilliamKiely 27 November 2017 12:37:31AM *  4 points [-]

Facebook saw over 100,000 people donate to thousands of fundraisers that raised $6.79 million on Giving Tuesday across the United States. (Source)

This year I expect it to be more, though I'm not well-informed on how much more. Perhaps $10-$20MM is a reasonable expectation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giving_Tuesday

Also, the match last year was for $500K instead of $2MM. From the same source:

After the initial match of $500,000 was reached within hours, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation increased their pledge to $900,000 total to match more Giving Tuesday Fundraisers on Facebook.

Note that last year's matching campaign was also announced in advance.

So I think 3 minutes is overkill. While apriori I would be expecting people to take advantage of this such that $2MM in donations are made in the first ~3 minutes, I think that last year shows that this is unlikely to happen. I would be surprised if the $2MM match is reached in less than 30 minutes. I'll assign a 20% probability to that happening somewhat arbitrarily. And maybe a 5% chance to it being reached in less than 10 minutes. My median estimate would be around 9:30 EST (1.5 hours). And maybe a 20% chance that it takes more than 3 hours. Although I don't really know, so my suggestion is to donate ASAP. If you're donating more than just a small amount it's worth it even if it's inconvenient.

I intend to make all of my donations ASAP after 8:00 AM EST. (I am going to try to make 10 separate $1,000 donations before 8:10 AM EST).

Comment author: BenMillwood  (EA Profile) 16 December 2017 04:38:03PM 2 points [-]

For the benefit of future readers: Giving Tuesday happened, and the matching funds were exhausted within about 90 seconds. In total of ~$370k in donations we matched ~$46k, or about 13%, which was lower than hoped. William wrote up a lessons-learned document as a Google doc.

Comment author: ThomasSittler 02 December 2017 04:12:55PM 2 points [-]

I just want to say: that spreadsheet is something beautiful. <3