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MvdSteeg comments on EA Funds - An update from CEA - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: MvdSteeg 08 August 2018 09:55:50AM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the update!

I'm glad to see the fund balance is up to date now. One piece of the puzzle that does still seem to be missing to me is an indication of how much money the fund managers expect to be able to allocate effectively, as without this the fund balance can only be interpreted relative to past balances and past grants.

I was also curious if there are any plans to register as a non-profit in other countries than the US and the UK. Looking at the registration process for the Netherlands this doesn't seem like a lot of work, and would increase effectiveness of Dutch donations by up to 80% (if I got the math right). Are there some obstacles here that I fail to see which prevent CEA/EA Funds from applying in other countries? Even if you had only a handful of donors per country it seems worthwhile.

Comment author: MarekDuda 08 August 2018 02:31:11PM 1 point [-]

By your first question do you mean whether there is a $ amount ceiling after which the fund managers expect the marginal effectiveness of further grants to drop off? I think if this was the case, the managers would have a good reason to wait to grant until more effective options appear again.

On your second point, we would want to have the platform a little more stable operationally before adding further jurisdictions, as this would increase the complexity non trivially. Nevertheless we do hope to be able to register elsewhere in due time and the Netherlands would likely be our first target.

Comment author: MvdSteeg 08 August 2018 04:17:33PM *  0 points [-]

Regarding the first point: if there's much more incoming donations than they can effectively allocate, I can imagine they automatically lower their standards by some margin so less funds would remain unallocated. If there's no expectation of more effective options showing up in the future that wouldn't get covered by new incoming donations, then this could be seen as a good thing, money spent on a fairly effective charity is better than not spending it at all. However, in addition to the responsibility of allocating the resources they have as well as they can, I think the fund managers have a responsibility to also communicate when they feel like their fund is hitting diminishing returns. This is difficult to quantify, but e.g. last dollar vs first dollar impact ballpark might suffice.

It is very much possible that the funds are -nowhere- near the point where this should cause any worry, and I'm not at all trying to say that any fund manager has neglected to give such a signal, because there may not have been any cause for it. However, I'm not sure if, as a (potential) donor, there's a way for me to tell this right now. Maybe I could deduce it from notes on past grants.

I would expect a red light to be given if at any point a fund manager feels like their fund will not be able to allocate their resources to the standard they hold for themselves. It would be helpful if there was also an explicit green light when this is -not- the case. I'm not sure this can be derived from just the current fund balance, because it does not say anything about future opportunities coming up. We might see a fund is holding 1 million after a series of grants, conclude that this means it cannot use our donations right now, while in fact the next batch of grants could have easily handled another 500k or more.

Glad to hear the Netherlands is high on your priority list in terms of expanding registrations! I don't suppose you're willing to risk any kind of ETA, right? ;)