Comment author: Bernadette_Young 20 April 2017 08:24:17PM *  8 points [-]

I'm pleased to see the update on GWWC recommendations; it was perturbing to have such different messages being communicated in different channels.

However I'm really disappointed to hear the Giving What We Can trust will disappear - not least because it means I no longer have a means to leave a legacy to effective charities in my will (which I'll now need to change). Previously the GWWC trust meant I had a means of leaving money, hedging against changes in the landscape of what's effective, run by an org whose philosophy I agree with and whose decisions I had a good track record of trusting. EA funds requires I either specify organisations (which I can do myself in a will, but might not be the best picks at a relevant time), or trust a single individual in whom I don't have the same confidence. Also if a legacy is likely to be a substantial amount of money I am more risk averse about where it goes.

Comment author: aliwoodman 21 April 2017 10:50:10AM 10 points [-]

Hi Bernadette,

We’re sorry that our communication on this has not been clear enough. We were waiting on some technical details so that we could infor Trust users of the exact changes and what they needed to do in advance but now I’ll communicate what we can today while Larissa Hesketh-Rowe is also going to email Giving What We Can members to make sure everyone is included.

In terms of the Trust we are moving all of the functionality the Trust had over to EA Funds which we believe will ultimately be a much better platform both for users and for us in terms of managing the administration.

You can leave a legacy in a similar way via EA Funds; as you mentioned you can allocate it to the Funds or to specific charities. However, you can also allocate it to GiveWell’s recommended charities as they stand at the time of granting your bequest. In practice this should be similar to how bequests were made to the Trust - keeping the Giving What We Can Trust running would still mean using GiveWell’s recommendation as Giving What We Can no longer conduct our own research. In our update to members at the end of July we explained that the restructure with CEA meant that while we would continue to run the core aspects of Giving What We Can like the pledge we felt that our research was not offering sufficient value over and above GiveWell’s and that we would therefore move to making our list of recommended charities follow GiveWell’s recommendations. We are still establishing what the Trust’s options are for handling and transferring bequests, to see whether it is necessary to ask donors to change their wills, or whether we can transfer them, along with their instructions and allocations, to CEA. We’ll look to communicate this as soon as we have more information.

It seems we’ve not communicated these changes clearly enough to members and so we’ll be seeking to address this over the next couple of weeks. Do please post any other questions you have or clarifications you’d like as we can use that to help inform what else we email to members.

Best wishes, Alison

Comment author: rohinmshah  (EA Profile) 19 October 2016 05:43:21AM 3 points [-]

What does Giving What We Can spend its time on? I realized that I am unable to answer this question even loosely, which is unusual. The Our Team page (https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/about-us/team/) helps, but parts are still unclear. More generally, I'm not sure what activities GWWC does that cause more GWWC pledges, which is what it bases its impact on.

What percentage of GWWC pledges do you think were caused by GWWC (or CEA as a whole)? I'm particularly interested in measurements that don't rely on self-reports. So far, I've only seen statistics about self-reports by people who took the pledge, which were used to get a 60:1 multiplier.

Comment author: aliwoodman 27 October 2016 06:03:38PM 5 points [-]

Hi Rohin, great question! Since Giving What We Can outreach is now managed by the wider Community and Outreach team at CEA it might make sense to speak in terms of our team as a whole.

Based on the figures we have, it seems reasonable that CEA activities were at least partially responsible for something like 70% of new pledges in September. We experimented with a number of new strategies to get additional pledges in September, including optimising our email and social media campaigns and running a Facebook retargeting campaign. We also tried to reduce the amount of time between following up with people who had expressed some interest in the pledge, either at 80,000 Hours workshops, EA Global or through engagement with websites we run (effectivealtruism.org etc).

More specifically, we looked at our Google Analytics to see how members are reaching the join page on the GWWC site. Out of the 106 who joined in September, 15 came from Facebook, both through our posts and through ads we ran. 12 came from the new effectivealtruism.org site, 3 of whom arrived after viewing the cause prioritisation flowchart (originally created by GPP). 11 were directed from emails; these were mostly people we followed up with who had previously started filling out signup forms but hadn’t completed them. 6 were directed from an article on giving and happiness which was written several years ago by a former staff member, Andreas Mogensen, for the GWWC blog. In terms of the wider CEA, 17 came from 80000hours.org, 9 from www.effectivealtruism.com (which is currently the Doing Good Better book website), and 4 from Sam Harris’s podcast where he interviewed Will MacAskill.

Comment author: aliwoodman 29 April 2016 05:22:04PM 6 points [-]

Thanks for the writeup! Really interesting to get a better picture of this.

Just to add some extra info about the effects of EA Global and 'Doing Good Better' and Singer's TED talk on GWWC member growth. It's true EA Global last year didn't lead to new members straight away, but 2 people joined later in the year citing EA Global as a way they first heard about Giving What We Can. In addition, after following up with participants individually, 7 took the pledge.

'Doing Good Better' has had a much bigger effect. 72 of the members who have signed up since July 2015 (11%) mentioned 'Doing Good Better' in response to the pledge form question of 'How did you first heard about Giving What We Can?', making up 6.5% of the overall responses to the question (people can select multiple options). The distribution of join dates for these members is fairly even, with higher numbers in January and February.

In total Peter Singer's TED talk accounts for 10% of the responses to the 'How did you first hear..?' question. Again the proportion of members influenced by this seems pretty steady over time.

(In case unclear, I work at Giving What We Can :) )

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 28 February 2016 12:43:22AM 2 points [-]

Hi Michelle. I finally got around to reading through all of this and the supporting docs. I agree with Michael Dickens that it is awesome to have such a thoroughly transparent document published publicly. I certainly learned a lot about GWWC I didn't know about and it definitely gives me increased confidence in GWWC that you look at yourselves this thoroughly.

I have some questions based on what I've read, if you don't mind:

-

and as we go from having two levels of management to three

My understanding of there being three layers of management is that everyone has a boss and then that boss has a boss, and then that boss's boss has a boss. That seems like a lot of bosses for a nine person organization (though it may certainly be warranted if it's best -- promise I'm not judging negatively...) and I'm having a bit of trouble understanding the reporting structure. My guess is that you're at the top, and Jon, Allison, Sam, and Hauke all report to you, and then Marinella and James report to Allison and Larissa reports to Sam? But this sounds like two levels, not three?

-

One problem we had early on was finding someone to lead the drive who hadn’t yet taken the pledge themselves.

Why does the person who lead the drive need to have not taken the pledge? Is it because they're inviting other people to take the pledge with them? This sounds like it poses a big barrier to me for future drives and I don't think the value of the "take the pledge with me" theme outweighs the increasing cost.

-

We will continue to do some of this, while simultaneously trying out riskier but potentially higher reward activities.

Oooh... what activities?

-

She is in a good position to do this because her engagement with members (through skyping them and being in charge of data gathering / the giving review) means she has a good picture of what things have led people to join or acted as barriers in the past.

Curious to hear thoughts on what the causes and barriers of joining are. Any plans to write that up?

-

We also think it is important for us as a community to have a thorough and deep knowledge of different cause areas and the effectiveness of charities in them – if we are to ask people to join our community and trust our recommendations, they have a right to expect this – as well as being lively and producing interesting content.

I certainly sympathize with the need to have in-house expertise and I really like the angle of creating reports for HNWs if you think this is leading them to donate a lot more effectively than they would otherwise. But I am concerned about there being a large potential for overlap with GiveWell and I didn't see this discussed that much in the research prioritization doc.

What do you think of this overlap? Is there a concern of duplication of effort? Has there been any serious cost-benefit analysis of what impacts focusing on research has (e.g., found something cool that GiveWell didn't know about, improving the reputation of GWWC which causes more people to take the pledge) against the costs (it seems to be at least 1/6th of GWWC's budget?).

-

Another suggestion was that we should have a list of people we can ask advice from in major bodies whose work is relevant to ours. Hauke has been gradually growing such a network, but we haven’t previously coordinated as much as we could with other members of CEA - we will try to do so in future.

This sounds really cool. Who would you think of reaching out to?

Since you are both an advocacy and research organization, are you trying to build contacts with both or focusing on building contacts in only one of those two areas?

-

Metrics

It's cool to see GWWC publishing metrics and focusing on cohort analysis. I'm still keen to learn more about the retention rate.

I'm curious if you've given any thought to *dollar-weighted *attrition, where you look at the total amount of money donated in year N divided by the total amount of money pledged in year N-1 for year N. (It's possible this number could be above 100% if people underestimate how much they'll donate.)

I also think there's still a cool project around trying to predict retention using survival analysis, as I mentioned awhile back (point 7). I'll think more about prioritizing this.

Comment author: aliwoodman 29 February 2016 02:34:55PM 1 point [-]

Hi Peter,

Thanks for all of your thoughts on this! I can speak a little to the question about metrics:

I'm curious if you've given any thought to *dollar-weighted *attrition, where you look at the total amount of money donated in year N divided by the total amount of money pledged in year N-1 for year N. (It's possible this number could be above 100% if people underestimate how much they'll donate.)

This isn't something we've used in our impact evaluations since we're missing donation data from around two fifths of our members (though in future we do hope to fill in some of these gaps by making it easier for members to record their donations at the point of donation). This calculation would therefore give us an estimated lower bound % of pledged money that was donated in a given year, but wouldn't give us information about the expected contributions of members for whom we lack data. For what it's worth, I've had a quick look, and, for 2014, 65% of the donations pledged for the year were recorded in My Giving.

It'd be good to hear more about your ideas for a survival analysis. If you have the time feel free to get in touch (alison[dot]woodman[at]givingwhatwecan.org)

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 28 February 2016 12:43:22AM 2 points [-]

Hi Michelle. I finally got around to reading through all of this and the supporting docs. I agree with Michael Dickens that it is awesome to have such a thoroughly transparent document published publicly. I certainly learned a lot about GWWC I didn't know about and it definitely gives me increased confidence in GWWC that you look at yourselves this thoroughly.

I have some questions based on what I've read, if you don't mind:

-

and as we go from having two levels of management to three

My understanding of there being three layers of management is that everyone has a boss and then that boss has a boss, and then that boss's boss has a boss. That seems like a lot of bosses for a nine person organization (though it may certainly be warranted if it's best -- promise I'm not judging negatively...) and I'm having a bit of trouble understanding the reporting structure. My guess is that you're at the top, and Jon, Allison, Sam, and Hauke all report to you, and then Marinella and James report to Allison and Larissa reports to Sam? But this sounds like two levels, not three?

-

One problem we had early on was finding someone to lead the drive who hadn’t yet taken the pledge themselves.

Why does the person who lead the drive need to have not taken the pledge? Is it because they're inviting other people to take the pledge with them? This sounds like it poses a big barrier to me for future drives and I don't think the value of the "take the pledge with me" theme outweighs the increasing cost.

-

We will continue to do some of this, while simultaneously trying out riskier but potentially higher reward activities.

Oooh... what activities?

-

She is in a good position to do this because her engagement with members (through skyping them and being in charge of data gathering / the giving review) means she has a good picture of what things have led people to join or acted as barriers in the past.

Curious to hear thoughts on what the causes and barriers of joining are. Any plans to write that up?

-

We also think it is important for us as a community to have a thorough and deep knowledge of different cause areas and the effectiveness of charities in them – if we are to ask people to join our community and trust our recommendations, they have a right to expect this – as well as being lively and producing interesting content.

I certainly sympathize with the need to have in-house expertise and I really like the angle of creating reports for HNWs if you think this is leading them to donate a lot more effectively than they would otherwise. But I am concerned about there being a large potential for overlap with GiveWell and I didn't see this discussed that much in the research prioritization doc.

What do you think of this overlap? Is there a concern of duplication of effort? Has there been any serious cost-benefit analysis of what impacts focusing on research has (e.g., found something cool that GiveWell didn't know about, improving the reputation of GWWC which causes more people to take the pledge) against the costs (it seems to be at least 1/6th of GWWC's budget?).

-

Another suggestion was that we should have a list of people we can ask advice from in major bodies whose work is relevant to ours. Hauke has been gradually growing such a network, but we haven’t previously coordinated as much as we could with other members of CEA - we will try to do so in future.

This sounds really cool. Who would you think of reaching out to?

Since you are both an advocacy and research organization, are you trying to build contacts with both or focusing on building contacts in only one of those two areas?

-

Metrics

It's cool to see GWWC publishing metrics and focusing on cohort analysis. I'm still keen to learn more about the retention rate.

I'm curious if you've given any thought to *dollar-weighted *attrition, where you look at the total amount of money donated in year N divided by the total amount of money pledged in year N-1 for year N. (It's possible this number could be above 100% if people underestimate how much they'll donate.)

I also think there's still a cool project around trying to predict retention using survival analysis, as I mentioned awhile back (point 7). I'll think more about prioritizing this.

Comment author: aliwoodman 29 February 2016 02:25:43PM 0 points [-]

Hi Peter,

Thanks for all of your thoughts on this! I can speak a little to the question about metrics:

I'm curious if you've given any thought to *dollar-weighted *attrition, where you look at the total amount of money donated in year N divided by the total amount of money pledged in year N-1 for year N. (It's possible this number could be above 100% if people underestimate how much they'll donate.)

This isn't something we've used in our impact evaluations, since we are missing donation data from around two fifths of our members. This calculation would give us a lower bound % of pledged money that was donated in a given year, but wouldn't give us information about the missing data. For what it's worth, I've had a quick look, and for the year 2014, 65% of the donations pledged for the year were recorded in My Giving.

It'd be good to hear more about your ideas for a survival analysis. If you have the time feel free to get in touch (alison[dot]woodman[at]givingwhatwecan.org)

Comment author: AGB 10 February 2016 07:21:31PM 2 points [-]

Strongly agree with the bit about My Giving at the end. Do you have any insight into the sign-up rates at all? I have two thoughts that might improve it but seem tangentially relevant for people who have literally never signed in. I'll post them anyway:

  1. Recently I was filling in some donations and noticed a bug in how recurring donations are treated; I didn't know who to contact about this and there's nothing on the page pointing me to a feedback form I can fill in. I then forgot about it until reading this post. AFAIK the bug still exists. Obviously most people will never fill in forms, but it's probably worthwhile for the people who will to have easy access to one?

  2. Having some simple way* of uploading multiple donations would save me personally a ton of time. I already keep my donations in a spreadsheet (technically in the UK higher rate taxpayers have to keep records for several years for tax reasons, although I'm sure many don't). and manually transcribing them is time-consuming and error-prone. I can imagine this is tricky though, so it's probably not worth spending time on if nobody else cares.

Comment author: aliwoodman 12 February 2016 03:12:16PM 0 points [-]

Hi! Thanks for those ideas. I wasn't quite sure what you meant about insights into sign-up rates? Around 55% of members have recorded at least some information in My Giving, but were you interested in some other question? 1. Sorry to hear there was a bug. Could you email me details if you still remember what the issue was? (alison.woodman[at]givingwhatwecan.org) Having some easy way for users to feedback seems very sensible - we'll look into adding this 2. This could be good, though I imagine it would be somewhat trickier. Will add it to our list of potential web improvements. I doubt you'd be the only person who finds this useful, since I know there are other people who keep track in spreadsheets too. Thanks again :)

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 09 December 2015 12:41:21PM 0 points [-]

Thanks!

Comment author: aliwoodman 10 December 2015 06:43:50PM *  2 points [-]

Hi again! I've now had a look at this - for the cohorts who joined before 2013 it looks like 30% of those who reported meeting their pledge in 2014 had not reported meeting their pledge in 2013. So this shows that just because someone didn't report their donations in 2013 doesn't mean they didn't the following year. I have added a breakdown of this in the 2014 cohort document. (NB I also made some very small corrections to the 2013 cohort info, which slightly increased the numbers for 'people who recorded some income and donation data' and changed the median %'s donated)

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 08 December 2015 09:11:24PM 0 points [-]

Thanks! :D

Comment author: aliwoodman 09 December 2015 11:36:35AM 3 points [-]

Here is the cohort information for 2013

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 08 December 2015 04:01:56PM 0 points [-]

Thanks Allison for such a clear document!

Do you have similar numbers for the 2013 pledge?

Comment author: aliwoodman 08 December 2015 06:20:15PM 1 point [-]

Hi Peter, I don't yet but am working on it: I'll post them here when they're done :)

Comment author: Dale 08 December 2015 12:20:45AM 8 points [-]

Hey Michelle,

In the past we've discussed how desirable it would be for GWWC to release cohort data to allow potential donors to properly evaluate how much value GWWC creates. Without it its hard for us to estimate the lifetime value of new members. While it seems clear GWWC is positive value, we need to be able to compare it to other effective charities. At the time it was suggested that you would release this data; any chance we could see it in time for this giving season - or if not, in the new year?

Comment author: aliwoodman 08 December 2015 02:46:52PM *  6 points [-]

Hi, Just to add to this, here is a link to a document I made with the sort of data you suggested sharing in the conversation earlier this year about cohort data. (Some of this is already contained in the Giving Review but I've presented it by cohort to hopefully make it easy to read). I agree that it's useful to collect and share, so thank you for the prompt!

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