Comment author: Elizabeth 26 April 2017 11:48:48PM 4 points [-]

I'm shocked that no one has commented on Elie Hassenfeld distributing 100% of money to GiveWell's top charity. Even if he didn't run GiveWell, this just seems like an extra step between giving to GiveWell. But given that one of the main arguments for the funds was to let smaller projects get funded quickly and with less overhead, giving 100% to one enormous charity with many large donors is clearly failing at a goal.

I would guess that $300k simply isn't worth Elie's time to distribute in small grants, given the enormous funds available via GoodVentures and even GiveWell direct and directed donations. It seems to me the obvious thing is to is have the fund managed by someone who has the time to do so, rather than make another way to give money to GiveWell.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 27 April 2017 02:03:01AM 2 points [-]

It's worth noting that it's all pretty fungible anyway. GiveWell could have just as easily claimed the money was going toward an incubation grant and then put more incubation grant money toward AMF.

Comment author: BenHoffman 27 April 2017 01:13:59AM 1 point [-]

Or to simply say "for global poverty, we can't do better than GiveWell so we recommend you just give them the money".

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 27 April 2017 02:02:22AM 1 point [-]

Agreed - it definitely seems reasonable to me, and very consistent with GiveWell's overall approach, that Elie sincerely believes that donating to AMF is the best use of funds.

Comment author: Julia_Wise 25 April 2017 07:28:35PM 4 points [-]

How should a couple that donate jointly answer the donation questions? Should one of us answer with the combined income and combined donations?

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2017 09:55:34PM 0 points [-]

Good question!

We have people report both household and individual income. If you have an individual income and you're comfortable disclosing that, put that as "individual income" and then report your joint income as "household income".

After that, I'd recommend that both of you each disclose the full joint donation amount on both surveys.

From there, we can figure it out.

Thanks! We'll try to make this more clear next year and we'd love any suggestions for a better way to handle joint donations.

Comment author: vollmer 25 April 2017 07:13:40AM *  8 points [-]

Some of those charities are developed-world charities and would likely be seen as ineffective by most EAs. However, he might not give to those charities if he was running an EA Fund (similar to how many GiveWell staff are donating to charities not recommended by GiveWell), or maybe multiple people could run the fund together.

One thing I like about Blattman's work is that he has done a lot of research on armed conflict and violence and how to prevent it (with high-quality RCTs). This area seems to be very neglected in EA:

http://www.poverty-action.org/study/peace-education-rural-liberia

http://www.poverty-action.org/study/ex-combatant-reintegration-liberia

EAs seem to focus on health most of the time (e.g. Charity Entrepreneurship almost exclusively evaluated health programs). There are lots of good reasons for focusing on health, and maybe the goal of EA is not to find all the best charities/programs but only some of them such that there's enough RFMF for the EA community as a whole. However, I'm skeptical and still think non-health approaches are very neglected in EA because:

1) There has been hardly any analysis of other program areas (e.g. so far I haven't seen any kind of back-of-the-envelope analysis focusing on peace and security, nor any kind of "fact post" on the EA forum, nor anything similar),

2) there might be a lot of additional funding available for such alternative approaches (by donors who tend to be more skeptical of GiveWell's health focus, or by donors whose funds are restricted in some way),

3) it would demonstrate to the outside world that EAs are really doing their homework instead of being easily satisfied with some easy-to-measure approaches, and this might accelerate EA movement growth and strengthen its impact and credibility in society at large (which could also increase total funding for top charities).

For these reasons, I would very much like someone like Chris Blattman to be involved with the EA Funds in some way (maybe not as a fund manager). Or some external review of GiveWell's work by someone like Blattman.

EDIT: Actually Open Phil wrote a bit about aid in fragile contexts: http://www.openphilanthropy.org/research/cause-reports/fragile-states

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2017 04:56:22PM 1 point [-]

There has been hardly any analysis of other program areas (e.g. so far I haven't seen any kind of back-of-the-envelope analysis focusing on peace and security, nor any kind of "fact post" on the EA forum, nor anything similar),

80K does briefly compare deaths from health-related causes to deaths from war, but I agree it would be nice to see a more detailed, nuanced analysis that took into account Blattman and others' arguments.

Comment author: Andy_Schultz 25 April 2017 02:45:52PM 3 points [-]

How much more helpful would it be to take the full survey vs the abridged one, for those who have taken the survey in prior years? I'm willing to take the full survey if it's helpful.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2017 04:53:57PM 2 points [-]

I'd personally prefer if everyone who is interested in taking the full survey do so, so that we can track how beliefs and attitudes change (along with donations).

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2017 04:44:56AM *  2 points [-]

Another thing that would be encouraging would be if at least one of the Funds were not administered entirely by an Open Philanthropy Project staffer, and ideally an expert who doesn't benefit from the halo of "being an EA." For instance, Chris Blattman is a development economist with experience designing programs that don't just use but generate evidence on what works.

Chris Blattman has put together some of his principles on giving and says he personally ranks GiveDirectly #1, but otherwise believes the "means and end to human well being is good government and political rights and freedoms" and therefore gives to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Democratic National Committee, Planned Parenthood, the National Immigration Law Center, and the International Rescue Committee.

Comment author: DonyChristie 24 April 2017 09:38:50PM 0 points [-]

Allocating grants according to a ranked preference vote of an arbitrary amount of people (and having them write up their arguments); what is the optimal number here? Where is the inflection point where adding more people decreases the quality of the grants?

On tertiary reading I somewhat misconstrued "three fund managers" as "three fund managers per fund" rather than "the three fund managers we have right now (Nick, Elie, Lewis)", but the possibility is still interesting with any variation.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2017 02:11:02AM 0 points [-]

That's a good question. I did intend "three fund managers" to mean "the three fund managers we have right now", but I could also see the optimal number of people being 2-3.

Comment author: DonyChristie 23 April 2017 07:04:02PM 0 points [-]

Or maybe allocate grants according to a ranked preference vote of the three fund managers, plus have them all individually and publicly write up their reasoning and disagreements?

Serious question: What do you think of N fund managers in your scenario?

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 23 April 2017 07:16:06PM 1 point [-]

I don't understand the question.

Comment author: AGB 22 April 2017 10:51:44PM *  5 points [-]

So I probably disagree with some of your bullet points, but unless I'm missing something I don't think they can be the crux of our disagreement here, so for the sake of argument let's suppose I fully agree that there are a variety of strong social norms in place here that make praise more salient, visible and common than criticism.

...I still don't see how to get from here to (for example) 'The community is probably net-neutral to net-negative on the EA funds, but Will's post introducing them is the 4th most upvoted post of all time'. The relative (rather than absolute) nature of that claim is important; even if I think posts and projects on the EA forum generally get more praise, more upvotes, and less criticism than they 'should', why has that boosted the EA funds in particular over the dozens of other projects that have been announced on here over the past however-many years? To pick the most obviously-comparable example that quickly comes to mind, Kerry's post introducing EA Ventures has just 16 upvotes*.

It just seems like the simplest explanation of your observed data is 'the community at large likes the funds, and my personal geographical locus of friends is weird'.

And without meaning to pick on you in particular (because I think this mistake is super-common), in general I want to push strongly towards people recognising that EA consists of a large number of almost-disjoint filter bubbles that often barely talk to each other and in some extreme cases have next-to-nothing in common. Unless you're very different to me, we are both selecting the people we speak to in person such that they will tend to think much like us, and like each other; we live inside one of the many bubbles. So the fact that everyone I've spoken to in person about the EA funds thinks they're a good idea is particularly weak evidence that the community thinks they are good, and so is your opposing observation. I think we should both discount it ~entirely once we have anything else to go on. Relative upvotes are extremely far from perfect as a metric, but I think they are much better than in-person anecdata for this reason alone.

FWIW I'm very open to suggestions on how we could settle this question more definitively. I expect CEA pushing ahead with the funds if the community as a whole really is net-negative on them would indeed be a mistake. I don't have any great ideas at the moment though.

*http://effective-altruism.com/ea/fo/announcing_effective_altruism_ventures/

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 23 April 2017 02:12:18PM 0 points [-]

FWIW I'm very open to suggestions on how we could settle this question more definitively.

Perhaps a simple (random) survey? Or, if that's not possible, a poll of some sort?

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 22 April 2017 07:55:12AM *  1 point [-]

On second thought, perhaps it's just an issue of framing.

Would you be interested in an "EA donors league" that tried to overcome the unilateralist's curse by giving people in the league some kind of power to collectively veto the donations made by other people in the league? You'd get the power to veto the donations of other people in exchange for giving others the power to veto your donations (details to be worked out)

(I guess the biggest detail to work out is how to prevent people from simply quitting the league when they want to make a non-kosher donation. Perhaps a cash deposit of some sort would work.)

Submitting...

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 23 April 2017 01:41:53PM 2 points [-]

Every choice to fund has false positives (funding something that should not have been funded) and false negatives (not funding something that should have been funded). Veto power only guards against the first one.

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