Comment author: Richard_Batty 06 February 2017 10:04:12AM 7 points [-]

This is really exciting, looking forward to these posts.

The Charity Entrepreneurship model is interesting to me because you're trying to do something analogous to what we're doing at the Good Technology Project - cause new high impact organisations to exist. Whereas we started meta (trying to get other entrepreneurs to work on important problems) you started at the object level (setting up a charity and only later trying to get other people to start other charities). Why did you go for this depth-first approach?

Comment author: ea247 06 February 2017 09:38:10PM 4 points [-]

So this response could also be a whole post in of itself, but briefly, there were 3 big reasons:

1) We thought that it's generally quite hard to start an extremely effective charity and also quite hard to influence pre-existing ones. Additionally it's quite easy to start something ineffective. GiveWell only gives even us and New Incentives a 10-20% of successfully starting a charity, and I think these are relatively high rates compared to what I would expect to happen if we only attempted to inspire. (e.g. Our team already has experience founding an EA meta-charity for example). 2) We were in a pretty good position to start something. We had a strong team that worked well together and the timing seemed quite good for starting a direct charity in the poverty space and we thought this space was very high impact.
3) We figured once we had starting something we would be much stronger mentors and know the process a lot better. We have already found this to be very true as we are coaching other projects through this process.

In general, I could imagine switching to a strategy that is more hands off and tries to inspire folks in a very meta way (e.g. incubator or heavy mentoring). If we see a few people pick up our CE ideas and take a good shot at them our probabilities of doing something like this would go up a lot.

Comment author: ea247 05 February 2017 08:48:40PM 5 points [-]

Great post. Completely agree with the general concept and have a few positive updates on the Charity Entrepreneurship front.

We are working with another team to get one of the other promising ideas from our initial CE research founded. A public post on this will come out sometime in the next month or so.

Additionally we are in fact working on expanding the model we used on Charity Entrepreneurship for health to a much wider subset of causes and crucial considerations to end up some with charities we/others can start in broader areas. Our first post on this, which is going up publicly very soon, is on explore/exploit and optimal stopping, but in the context of starting charities. We also talk about multi-armed bandit problems in it.

Comment author: ea247 03 January 2017 07:43:20PM 4 points [-]

Better ways to categorize or tag articles would be really helpful.

Comment author: ea247 13 November 2016 12:06:32AM 1 point [-]

Firstly, glad you guys are trying to solve this problem systematically. It looks like great work.

Secondly, you might be able to get more people to follow your recommendation if you explain the reasoning for it in a less mathematical way. Mainly because: a) Explaining ideas non-mathematically tends to make them propagate further, even in such an analytical crowd, and b) It would make it easier for people to understand and critique the idea, even if they are mathematically conversant.

Comment author: ea247 09 November 2016 01:31:34AM 4 points [-]

The most recent EA survey might be a good thing to include.

Comment author: ea247 25 November 2015 01:27:10AM 6 points [-]

Done! Hope others do the same so we can get lots of interesting, juicy data. Thanks Tom for putting this together. :)

Comment author: Owen_Cotton-Barratt 26 January 2015 07:11:03PM 12 points [-]

Thanks Tom, you guys have done a lot on a very low budget and I'm keen to hear about what you do next. I think the value of information about different approaches makes the project very worthwhile.

One issue which I have with your $9-to-$1 figure is that your costs seem artificially low: you are not paying market rates for your employees' labour. I think this is true either in the sense of how much you would have to pay to replace them or in the sense of how much they might earn (and perhaps donate) elsewhere. It might be better to budget as paying a more normal wage to your employees with them donating the difference back to Charity Science.

Note that I actually think this is a budgeting issue for most EA orgs, which somewhat obscures counterfactual impact. I brought it up here not to pick on Charity Science but just because you guys are so amazingly frugal that it makes even more of a difference than normal!

Comment author: ea247 29 January 2015 08:05:44PM *  6 points [-]

I think there are a lot of different ways to calculate impact. We generally try to follow GiveWell’s model as closely as possible as we have found them to be consistently stronger at truthful impact reporting. If we had used other meta-charities’ ways of calculating our impact, it would have been far higher (e.g. if we had included projections of future donations, or did not exclude counterfactuals as harshly as we did).

As for calculating our opportunity costs, I think this is an interesting question and a good thing to take into account. In our next impact report we will be sure to include these figures. For the time being we will put the calculations in this comment.

We based our calculations on what would happen if we did earning to give instead of running Charity Science. We took into account an estimate of earning based on each of our ages, time worked on CS, degree level, rate of taxes we would have to pay, cost of living, and the percentage each individual would donate, etc. We think we would have donated $45,500 in the first year. This may be substantially lower though, as Joey and I may have had to do some capacity-building to enter the for-profit sector, which would have cost time and money. It also assumes we find jobs immediately and have no extra job expenses such as clothing or travel. This gives a ratio of about 1:3 over the year, or 1:6 over the last 6 months.

In terms of replacements, I currently expect to hire minimum wage non-EA workers to do a large amount of the future fundraising (with either one ED staying as ED, or just having an EA heavy board). That is also worth keeping in mind if someone wants to calculate it from that perspective.

I really like people asking these sorts of questions. I hope to see this sort of rigour and these sorts of strong questions applied to all meta-charities consistently.


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