Comment author: Dunja 29 March 2018 03:41:53PM 1 point [-]

Yes, environmental movement is a good comparison. I'm still not sure what exactly can be translated from that movement to EA at this point, mainly because the involved group is much smaller... but would be definitely interesting to hear your ideas on this.

Comment author: impala 01 April 2018 10:43:31PM 1 point [-]

The environmental movement seems to be the closest analogy. It would be strange to find this movement having even the levels of (implicit, claimed) hierarchy that EA does. This should be cause for concern.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 01 April 2018 03:00:57PM *  8 points [-]

I think I agree with the comments on this post that job postings on the EA forum are not ideal, since if all the different orgs did it they would significantly clutter the forum.

The existing "Effective Altruism Job Postings" Facebook group and possibly the 80k job board should fulfill this purpose.

Comment author: impala 01 April 2018 10:25:12PM 1 point [-]


Comment author: mhpage 17 December 2015 09:18:29PM 1 point [-]

I'm curious as a descriptive matter whether people have been downvoting due to disagreement or something else. Why, for example, do so many fundraising announcements get downvotes? I'm not certain we need a must-comment policy, but the mere fact that I don't know what a downvote means certainly impacts its signalling value.

Comment author: impala 17 December 2015 09:28:21PM *  2 points [-]

Speaking solely for myself, I've down voted fundraising announcements when I felt people were asking for money inappropriately, without a good, straightforward case for why I shouldn't give to AMF instead (to take the example I currently give to). I try not to down vote solely because I disagree with someone.

Comment author: Gleb_T  (EA Profile) 12 December 2015 05:00:00PM 1 point [-]

I appreciate your perspective, but I think there's a lot of space for charity entrepreneurship. See my response to Lila above, and let me know your thoughts :-)

Comment author: impala 15 December 2015 02:11:37PM -1 points [-]

I'd enjoy reading your reasons for this in a top-level forum post. I expect others would do, and there are certainly plenty who think like you do who could participate in a comment thread discussion of this, which your post could trigger.

Comment author: impala 15 December 2015 02:09:52PM 1 point [-]

What evidence would you (or the other involved in outreach via mass readership articles) cite for it working, besides the Facebook comment you mentioned?

Comment author: Sebastian_Farquhar 11 December 2015 11:49:41AM 3 points [-]

You can find the detailed calculations here.

I agree that if you'd asked me five years ago what one could expect in a fundraising ratio I would have been surprised by estimates like 100:1. Most charitable fundraising is in the ballpark of 10:1. Nevertheless, the folks at GWWC are very methodical about gathering huge amounts of data and processing it carefully and transparently. If you have any specific suggestions for the methodology I'd be very open to exploring them.

Comment author: impala 15 December 2015 02:02:23PM 2 points [-]

Thank you, my top two suggestions would be:

  • Break down which activities have led to which members in as much detail as possible.

  • Justify the "Counter-factual donation rate" more deeply. Use a graduate volunteer's time to dig into it and present multiple explorations of it, some of which don't rely on people's subjective estimates of it when asked by GWWC at the time they're pledging to it. Include some in-depth exploration of the counter-factual rate for a few members.

Comment author: Bernadette_Young 11 December 2015 10:50:32AM 3 points [-]

The GWWC fundraising prospectus sets out in quite extensive detail the observations and assumptions that underlie the figures, as well as providing the spreadsheets to let you explore how your own probability estimates would change them.

What further information do you think should be included?

Comment author: impala 11 December 2015 10:44:18PM 0 points [-]

I'll give my own answer when I get time but the questions at look like a decent start.

Comment author: Owen_Cotton-Barratt 11 December 2015 02:54:21PM 7 points [-]

And prima facie it's implausibly profitable.

This statement is interesting, because it suggests at least some of the disagreement is about priors/reference classes. My prior for the ratio achievable was really quite broad. It sounds like you had a much tighter prior, which would decrease the extent to which you want to update on evidence.

I don't know whether that disagreement is resolvable, but here are some of the thoughts that inform my prior:

  • You talk about 'profitable', which suggests businesses as a reference class. I agree that that kind of ratio is implausible for businesses, but I think that's a function of competition -- if it were available, someone would have been doing it already and got rich as a result. Monopolists can get much more profitable than non-monopolists. I think there are quite a lot of analogies with a business, so it's not ridiculous to consider them as a reference class, but I also think we understand the basic mechanism which stops them getting too profitable and it doesn't apply here, so we should not weigh this that strongly.

  • A closer reference class seems to be fundraising for charities. The institute of fundraising estimates median returns for different kind of fundraising activity to vary between around 1.5:1 and around 30:1, depending on the activity (link). The ratio for campaigns to encourage committed giving to the charity running the campaign is around 6:1. Note that these numbers are sustained despite what is probably some competition between charities (I'm mildly surprised by this).

  • The activity that GWWC is engaging in is not fundraising for itself, but encouraging people to give (and give effectively). Compared to charities fundraising for themselves, there is less competition, and the approach is also more novel: both of these could support more of the low-hanging fruit still being available. Moreover it may be easier to persuade people to give when there is no obvious conflict-of-interest of the charity receiving funds being the same as the people trying to persuade you.

Comment author: impala 11 December 2015 10:42:35PM 2 points [-]

Thanks, this is helpful (though as you predict not by itself not enough to resolve the issue). Fundraising seems a good reference class - not too broad (like 'all businesses' would be) and not too narrow. One comment/question, at least for now:

The activity that GWWC is engaging in is not fundraising for itself, but encouraging people to give (and give effectively). Compared to charities fundraising for themselves, there is less competition, and the approach is also more novel: both of these could support more of the low-hanging fruit still being available. Moreover it may be easier to persuade people to give when there is no obvious conflict-of-interest of the charity receiving funds being the same as the people trying to persuade you.

This seems the main reason that could account for your fundraising being so much more profitable than normal. The lack of conflict of interest could help, and I've read Charity Science use the same argument somewhere. But it has very limited strength, there are many independent people who fundraise for charities they're passionate about, and it's hard to see why it'd drive up fundraising profitability that much. That would take a novel approach in an enviroment of low hanging fruit (because low competetition). What exactly is GWWC's approach of this sort? I'm still not clear what you will do with the staff time our money buys to churn out a hundred dollars per dollar.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 11 December 2015 07:26:45PM *  6 points [-]

Hi Denise,

Our 2015 total spending (including central splits and everything) is going to be about 215k. Our 2016 budget, including hiring a coach, is about 250k.

The prospectus shows 174k for 2015, but this doesn't include our share of central services. Adding that gets you to about 215k. (I apologise for this confusing presentation).

The prospectus shows 192k for 2016. However that doesn't include a 10% contingency, which I always aim to fundraise (though we usually don't spend it). And it doesn't include hiring a coach, which is another 39k. Adding both of those gets you to about 250k.

So the increase is actually only 16%, not 40%.

I was wrong about the 40% increase because when I did the quick calculation there I hadn't included all of the costs of doing YC last summer (moving to the Bay Area, which were covered by the grant we got from YC). This drives down the 2016 growth rate, but drives up the 2015 growth rate.

Overall, here's 80k's total historical spending (including all costs and central splits assigned to 80k):

All figures are in pounds, to 3sf. Annual growth rates shown in brackets. 2015 and 2016 figures are estimates.

2012: 23100

2013: 124000 (436%)

2014: 119000 (-4%)

2015: 215000 (80%)

2016: 250000 (16%) (including hiring a coach)

Edit: Our most recent public figures are here: But don't include the 2016 budget.

Comment author: impala 11 December 2015 10:34:48PM 3 points [-]

Amid many critical comments I should give props for going above and beyond the original request by clearly presenting this historical data.

Comment author: Lila 11 December 2015 09:15:23PM 2 points [-]

I still agree with most of this comment as a general trend I've noticed in EA... but I don't think this was the right context for it. It feels too much like punching down, since Gleb is a relatively new EA and clearly means well, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Gleb, please continue with EA and don't get discouraged. Lord knows I was an idiot as a new EA.

Comment author: impala 11 December 2015 10:30:53PM -2 points [-]

Yeh, your comment was correct and needed, but where it's truly needed at punching up (which here obviously means calling out MIRI, CFAR and CEA). That's what I try to do. Otherwise newer and smaller "orgs" like Gleb's get criticized for being redundant and CEA gets a free pass for being one of the first movers and then claiming the EA movement that sprung up as its fiefdom and pass to limitless funding. Leave Gleb alone and fight the real battles.

Oh and good on you for being less of an insensitive (but truth telling!) ahole than you often are. ;-)

View more: Next