Comment author: Jon_Behar 06 October 2017 01:58:25PM 6 points [-]

Any thoughts on why the grants were so concentrated by cause area? EA Community and LT future got 65% and 33% respectively, while Global Health and Development and Animal Welfare each got just 1%. Was this a function of the applications (number or quality) or the evaluation process (values, metrics)? Would you have predicted this going in?

Comment author: Maxdalton 09 October 2017 05:15:53PM 2 points [-]

With regards to animal welfare, we passed on several applications which we found promising, but couldn't fully assess, to the Open Philanthropy Project, so we may eventually facilitate more grants in this area.

I would not have predicted such an extreme resource split going in: we received fewer high quality, EA-aligned applications in the global development space than we expected. However, CEA is currently prioritising work on improving the long-term future, so I would have expected the EA community and long-term future categories to receive more funding than global development or animal welfare.

In response to comment by Roxanne_Heston  (EA Profile) on EAGx Relaunch
Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 24 July 2017 10:31:51PM 4 points [-]

the people we'd like to have do direct work in many cases already exist in the EA sphere but don't have the affordance or nudge to dedicate themselves to EA work full-time.

Would you view the large number of rejected EA Grants proposals as evidence against this view and toward a view of funding constraints? (Of course, you can answer "yes" to that question and still think the view I quoted is accurate because of a larger balance of evidence pointing toward the quoted view.)

It's cool to see CEA thinking systematically about the entire funnel of EA talent.

In response to comment by Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) on EAGx Relaunch
Comment author: Maxdalton 25 July 2017 07:44:32AM *  10 points [-]

The main reason that we could not interview more people for EA Grants at this stage is that we had a limited amount of staff time to conduct interviews, rather than because of funding constraints.

I think you are right that the number of excellent EA Grants proposals suggests that small projects are often currently restricted by receiving funding. However, I think that this is less because there is not enough money, and more because there aren't good mechanisms for matching small projects up with money. You could say it is funding-mechanism-constrained. Of course, EA Grants is trying to address this. This was a smaller trial round, to see how promising the project is, and work out how to run it well. We will reassess after we've completed this round, but I think that it's very possible that we will scale the program up, to begin to address this issue.

[I'm working for CEA on EA Grants.]

In response to comment by Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) on EAGx Relaunch
Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 25 July 2017 05:27:06AM 0 points [-]

large number of rejected EA Grants proposals

Is there info about this somewhere?

Comment author: Maxdalton 25 July 2017 07:26:32AM 4 points [-]

[I work for CEA on EA Grants.] We received over 700 applications, and we only offered interviews to roughly the top 10% of applicants. (We'll do a more detailed writeup once the process is over.)

Comment author: praline 13 June 2017 01:55:12PM 1 point [-]

Hoping to secure PhD study and have an EA-related research proposal. I've noticed the application characters limit is quite strict, so quite likely won't be able to explain much of the proposal in that. Should I attach it to my CV or should I just explain it very very briefly in the application?

Comment author: Maxdalton 13 June 2017 01:58:46PM 3 points [-]

You should write it briefly in the application. As the form mentions, the character limit is deliberately strict to encourage you to focus on the most important issues.

Comment author: joshjacobson  (EA Profile) 13 June 2017 07:14:52AM 1 point [-]

Have you already raised the funds for this? EA Ventures failed a while back primarily because there was not the money, and those in charge of it found that they had a much more difficult time raising funds than they expected.

Comment author: Maxdalton 13 June 2017 11:14:21AM 1 point [-]

Yes, this project is fully funded, from donations from a large donor given for this purpose.

Comment author: Denkenberger 11 June 2017 01:45:24AM 3 points [-]

Great idea! Do you want a 16 page CV or a 2 page resume? If CV, how do you want one to anonymize publications?

Comment author: Maxdalton 12 June 2017 07:21:16AM 1 point [-]

Thanks! Please use the resume.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 09 June 2017 11:52:17AM 4 points [-]

This is all very exciting and I'm glad to see this is happening.

A couple of comments.

  1. The deadline for this is only three weeks, which seems quite tight.

  2. Could you give examples of the types of things you wouldn't fund or are very unlikely to fund? That avoids you getting lots of applications you don't want as well as people spending time submitting applications that will get rejected. For instance, would/could CEA provide seed funding for any for altruistic for profit organisations, like start-ups? Asking for a friend...

Comment author: Maxdalton 09 June 2017 01:50:18PM *  4 points [-]
  1. We have set a tight deadline in order to allow us to process applications before the start of the academic year, since we see funding for study as one of the main use cases. If the project is successful, we will set more generous deadlines in the future.

  2. CEA may not be able to fund for-profit organisations, because we have to use money to further our charitable objects. However, we encourage applications from for-profits. We may then, with the applicant's permission, share information about the projects with private donors who might provide funding. In general, there aren't classes of projects that we won't consider: we want to cast the net wide. However, if others are unsure, I recommend that they email to clarify on a case-by-case basis.


Announcing Effective Altruism Grants

I'm announcing a new project from the Centre for Effective Altruism: Effective Altruism Grants . Effective Altruism Grants aims to provide grants of up to £100,000 (~$130,000) to help individuals work on promising projects. We hope to fund a wide range of effective projects that will directly or indirectly contribute to... Read More
Comment author: Sindy_Li 24 May 2017 12:42:39PM *  2 points [-]

Max, thanks for the post!

For someone like GiveWell that spends a lot of time investigating charities, they may have enough information about the charity's budget to tell when there is (something similar to) a discrete jump in the derivative of the returns function. E.g. the way they talk about "capacity-relevant funding" and "execution funding" in the post you linked to ("incentive funding" is for a completely different purpose that has no direct relationship with returns).

Also, to fix ideas it helps to think what we represent by the funding axis on the impact against funding graph, i.e. returns function. Is the function specifying the relationship between total impact, and total funding the charity expects to receive for a time period (i.e. next year), or we are looking within a time period and plotting what the charity does as (unexpected) new money comes in? In the latter case, diminishing returns seems most likely. In the former case, increasing returns is possible (but diminishing returns is as well).

Ben Todd has written about increasing returns in small organizations here. I wrote here that "Whether returns are increasing or decreasing in additional funding depends on how the funding is received. Expecting a large chunk of funding (either in the form of receiving such amounts at once, or even expecting a total large amount received in small chunks if there is no lumpy investment or borrowing constraint) could enable an organization to do more risk taking, while getting unanticipated small amounts of funding at a time -- even if the total adds up to more -- will probably just lead the organization to use the marginal dollar to “fund the activity with the lowest (estimated) cost-effectiveness”. ... The scenario Ben Todd has in mind probably applies more when a large funder is considering how much to give to an organization. This may be another argument to enter donor lottery or donate through the EA fund: giving a large and certain amount of donations to a small organization enables them to plan ahead for more risky but growth enhancing strategies, hence could be more valuable than uncoordinated small amounts even if the latter add up to the same total (because the latter may be less certain). ... This mechanism is articulated in “5.2 The funding uncertainty problem” on this page about the EA fund.” (There are probably some analogous economic model of firm investment under liquidity constraint and uncertainty, but I don't have one on the top of my head.)

In practice it may not be a big deal: even if the charity receives random small amounts of money during the year, it is probably at least as good as receiving the total amount all at once at the beginning of next year when they do the next round of planning. But for small organisations where earlier growth is much better, it could be much more preferable to have small amounts of donations be coordinated and committed at the same time to help with more ambitious planning and growth. (Of course we are assuming the charity is borrowing constrained; otherwise if earlier growth is much better they'd borrow to achieve it and repay with later donation. Also, if the market is efficient and earlier growth is really much better, then some donors should capture the opportunity ... but of course market may not be!)

Comment author: Maxdalton 25 May 2017 01:49:44PM 2 points [-]

In response to your first paragraph, I think it's true that GiveWell will have more information about any changes in the returns function. For the reasons given the in the second post, I think it's unlikely that GiveWell charities do have inflection points in their returns functions. I'm not sure from GiveWell's writing whether they think that there are inflection points or not (In particular, I don't think they take a clear stance on this in the linked post).

I think your second paragraph is answered by footnote 1 of the first post. I don't fully understand how your third and fourth paragraphs relate to the posts. Are you simply arguing that a fuller analysis would incorporate the size of individual donations, not the total level of funding? This seems like a plausible extension.

Comment author: adom_hartell 25 May 2017 02:10:14AM 2 points [-]

Hey Max, thanks for linking these.

I have a question about an argument for the benefit of reserves made in the second link:

Assuming that core programmes are roughly as effective next year, additional funding mostly reduces the funding needs of the organisation next year, thereby freeing up money for those donors who would have given next year. Assuming those donors still donate that money somewhere else, then their alternate donations are likely to produce at least almost as great value as this organisations’ core programmes.

I read this as saying that the benefit of donating to Organization A this year is that it will free up money for Organization B next year. But if Organization B is almost as good (as assumed in the quoted text), then why not donate to them directly this year?

On this reading, it seems like the impact of reserves for Organization A is whatever benefit Org A draws from the other arguments you offer (potential for capacity-building, freeing up staff-time from fundraising efforts next year) minus something like a discount rate / the cost of Organization B getting resources one year later. It's not obvious to me that this will always, or usually, be positive.

Am I missing something here?

Comment author: Maxdalton 25 May 2017 01:38:48PM *  2 points [-]

To disagree slightly with my co-author here... As I understand you, you are conditioning on A being able to expand capacity.

I think what is going on is that you are asking "Should we give to Organization A or Organization B?". I think your analysis is roughly right as a response to this question. We are not claiming that Organization A is more effective than Organization B.

Instead, what we're asking at this stage in the paper is more like "Is the total counterfactual impact of giving to Organization A steeply declining at any point?". We think that the answer is probably "No" for the reasons given. But note that this doesn't imply that one should always give to Organization A: if A starts off more effective, but returns gradually diminish, then there will still be some point at which it makes sense to start donating to organization B.

Overall, I think there isn't a disagreement here (although I may have misunderstood), but this is a sign that we should have been clearer in this section - I'll think about a rewrite.

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