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Carl_Shulman comments on Announcing the 2017 donor lottery - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Carl_Shulman 16 December 2017 08:28:25PM *  7 points [-]

See the post for that lottery: Tim Telleen-Lawton (former GiveWell employee) won. He is planning to post about his donations soon.

Do note, though, that the odds of payouts for other participants are unaffected by anyone's particular participation in this lottery design. For you, it doesn't matter what other participants plan to do except insofar as you would change your donation plans upon hearing they had made or not made a similar donation outside the lottery context. [I mention this because there is a common misconception to the contrary.]

One way in which your donation decision might depend on those of others would be if you were part of a small school of thought on the best giving (with total donations that are on the rough scale of the block size or smaller), and a large portion of that school was in the donor lottery. E.g. say only donors with $20,000 in total donations are interested in cause X, and there are significantly diminishing returns going from $20,000 to $100,000. Then if all the donors entered a donor lottery (in the same block) with a block size of $100,000 there would be an 80% chance of $0 to cause X and a 20% chance of $100,000 to cause X. The benefits of better investigation in the latter case might not be enough to offset the diminishing returns. This is analogous to how your decision to donate to cause X could be affected by the news that it was currently receiving donations of $20,000 or $100,000 outside the lottery context.

However, the total pool of EA giving, and EA giving for most causes (including donors who can switch based on changes in funding levels) is large enough that small donors in one $100,000 block won't significantly move along the diminishing returns curve.

Comment author: TimothyTelleenLawton 20 December 2017 06:40:02PM 2 points [-]

I've posted an update about my donation plans in the comments of the post that Carl linked above.