A short review of the Effect Foundation in 2017

The Effect Foundation (Stiftelsen Effekt in Norwegian) is an EA non-profit dedicated to promote and fundraise in Norway to GiveWell recommended charities. It started operations in mid-2016 and have raised about $ 360 000 (NOK 2 800 000) to date. The author of this post was one of the main initiators, and for the last year, the Managing Director of Stiftelsen Effekt.


In this post I will present what Effect has raised in 2017 and how this benchmarks to similar operations at The Life You Can Save (TLYCS) in USA and Effective Altruism Foundation (EAF) in Germany/Switzerland. At the end I will present my own assessment of our potential in the next 3-5 years.


Effect Foundation - 2017 in numbers

All figures below are approximate values for readability.
USD given at the exchange rate as of 03.03.18

Amount money moved in 2017

  • NOK 1 810 000      $ 232 000

Estimated counterfactual share (34%):

  • NOK 610 000         $ 78 300

Total expenses:

  • NOK 60 000           $ 7 700


By our annual survey and conservative assumptions we estimate that about NOK 610 000 (34%) of money moved in 2017 is contrafactual on Effect being shut down 1. January 2017. We are confident that at a minimum of this amount is moved to GiveWell’s recommended charities as a direct consequence of our work.

Stiftelsen Effekt is run solely by volunteers and a small budget that we are currently covering without having a dedicated fundraising drive, but just by donors choosing to allocate a share of their donation to Effekt.


How does this compare to TLYCS and EAF?

To give some context to the numbers above and better illustrate the potential of mass fundraising in Norway, I’ve gathered comparable numbers from TLYCS and EAF. First I want to disclose some important differences in how the three organisations operate and report their numbers. I would stress that readers only update on the numbers given based on their magnitude and general trend, not their exact numerical value, as I’ve not invested a lot of time in preparing this.

TLYCS have not published an impact report for 2017, so the numbers below is from their 2016 report. Each of the last three years they have grown substantially, so I expect their numbers to be significantly higher in 2017. Since GiveWell themselves are based in the US, they would “compete” with TLYCS in doing EA fundraising for the GW recommended charities. Note also that TLYCS fundraise for more than just these charities.

EAF provided me with the amount raised for GW recommendations, excluding what is associated with REG (an EAF project). EAF also fundraises for other charities than GW recommended charities, but this is not included here. EAF also told me that they expect their efforts in 2017 would result in donations of $10-20 million in 2018, most of which will likely be donated to GiveWell recommended charities. Here, I’ve used the conservative figure that only includes funds raised through their own website in 2017. I don’t know how this distributes between Germany, Switzerland and other countries, but I’ll just assume Germany and Switzerland provides everything.

  USD moved Inhabitants (mill) USD moved
per 1000 inhabitants
Effect - Norway $ 232 000 5.233 $ 44.3
TLYCS - USA $ 2 700 000 323.1 $ 8.4
EAF - Ger./Swiss $ 1 800 000 82.62 + 8.40 $ 19.8


Norway is a small country, but the support of foreign aid in the general public is high and the median income level is one of the highest in the world. To illustrate how this compares to the US, Germany and Switzerland I’ve gathered some figures to assess the comparative wealth of a typical inhabitant in the different countries. The reason I’ve gathered three similar measures is to mitigate selection bias as I’m not an expert in these numbers. I'm only interested in a general sense of how “typical wealth” compares between the countries.


1. Household income per capita

2. Median adult income

3. Net monthly average wage


$ 55 518

$ 36 043

$ 4 256


$ 25 514

$ 30 960

$ 3 300


$ 31 137

$ 25 140

$ 2 838


$ 59 483

$ 34 608

$ 5 569


1. Household income per capita, 2013, not PPP. Source: CIECdata. Latest German figures were from 2013, and the Norwegian figures from this year were unusually high. Because of a buggy website I only got the 2014 figures for Switzerland.

2. Median adult income US$ PPP in 2013, before benefits. Source: Wikipedia.

3. Net monthly average wage, before benefits. Source: Wikipedia.


As we can see from the table above, the donation potential in Norway per capita is high, but Switzerland is equal or higher. They are also a larger country. I don’t know how the support of foreign aid in the general public compares between the countries.

A broad fundraising strategy, based on uncontroversial causes, could work especially well in countries like Norway and Switzerland and raise more contrafactual funds per dollar/time spent than in other countries. Hauke Hillebrandt also mentioned expanding fundraising efforts in Norway as a promising project recently (nr 2 in the non-ordered list).


Future plans and funding opportunity

Since we’ve only operated for about two years, our empirical basis for estimating the long term potential of the Effect Foundation is weak. However we’ve invested a limited amount of money and time and still we’ve got solid results. I believe there are low hanging improvements like implementing a better, more automated donation system, getting tax deductibility status and better utilize effective marketing strategies. Therefore, I believe that we could reach USD 0.65-1 mill within 3-5 years in yearly donations and keep, or increase, the share of counterfactual donations. A well coordinated collaboration with the newly formed EA Norway would be essential.

Currently the Effect Foundation does not have a funding gap as we are constrained on people rather than money. As a small organization based on volunteers, starting a fundraising and hiring process is paradoxically a barrier in it self. This could already change later this year if EA Norway gets funded and would help out with hiring, administration and strategy. Therefore a way of helping out Effect would be to support EA Norway.

If you have questions or comments that you don't want to post in the comments below, please send them to jorgen@stiftelseneffekt.no. I can also help with getting you in contact with the board at EA Norway.

Jørgen Ringvold Ljønes
Managing Director
Stiftelsen Effekt/The Effect Foundation

Comments (3)

Comment author: DavidMoss 03 March 2018 06:19:38PM 5 points [-]

Great work!

I wonder how indicative household income or "typical wealth" is for the prospects of fund-raising though (at least when you are comparing relatively wealthy developed countries to each other). This depends, no doubt, on precisely how you are fundraising, which in turn begs the question of how you (or EAs in general) should be fundraising. If one were to focus more on HNWs or trying to change the culture/institutions associated with giving more generally (e.g. via workplace giving and/or nudging people, companies or the government to give to more effective charities), rather than general/mass fundraising from the typical income household (it's not entirely clear what your methods are), then other figures might be more relevant (the number of HNWs/UHNWs, the culture of giving etc.). None of this suggests that working in Norway is a bad idea (I suspect it performs well on multiple different metrics), but other metrics might be more informative.

More generally, if EAs can be expected to reliably get this kind of fundraising venture to work, then comparing Norway to the US/Germany/Switzerland may not be so important: plausibly we should just be encouraging EAs to trial this across a fairly wide array of countries.

Comment author: HakonHarnes 06 March 2018 04:57:33PM 1 point [-]

We are working on all the strategies you mention in Norway. There was recently a report posted on the potential of CSR (which I imagine is what you mean by "workplace giving") in Norway (http://effective-altruism.com/ea/1js/project_report_on_the_potential_of_norwegian/).

There is also work being done in political action, both on improving the efficiency of our substantial foreign aid budget (~4.4 billion USD in 2017) and some preliminary work on prioritization of future generations.

Comment author: DavidMoss 06 March 2018 05:31:45PM 0 points [-]

By workplace giving I had in mind things more like outreach in workplaces, payroll giving etc. (see Charity Science's old report on this: http://www.charityscience.com/uploads/1/0/7/2/10726656/workplace_giving_report_pdf.pdf). CSR would fall under what I referred to as nudging companies. (I did read the earlier report on CSR in Norway btw, and had forwarded it to a colleague working on CSR and EA).