Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 04 June 2016 11:19:10PM 3 points [-]

The list of 6 mistakes suggests there are reasons why people might incorrectly lean towards earning to give. However I do not think that the conclusion that "probably fewer people should be aiming to earn to give" follows directly from this.

I suspect the factors that effect whether earning to give should be more or less prevalent depends a lot whether we think wealth, and the kinds of influence it can buy, will be useful tools to wield in the mid to long run (as today's young professionals reach the peaks of their careers) as well as empirical questions on what proportion of EAs are actually earning to give etc.

(On the other-hand these issues maybe so hard to predict that you think just looking at where we will be bias as a community and then trying to lean the other way is a better metric to use)

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 20 May 2016 12:50:48AM *  1 point [-]

This looks crazily well done - good job!

Question: Have you / how have you, when considering where to donate, considered meta causes such as growing the effective altruism movement or fundraising for effective charities, etc?

EG1 - a charity like REG may not have as much effect on long term values as THL, but will raise money in the short term which will then fund THL etc.

EG2 - a charity that does more research like GPP, into what is best to donate to, that will improve resources such as yoru spreadsheet

Sorry if you mentioned this and I missed it

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 13 May 2016 09:20:54AM 1 point [-]

On SMS immunization reminders In case it is useful (it may not be) this reminded me of the UK Behavioural Insights Team's work on: what's the best messages to send through SMS. On the one hand this at least shows that varying the messages is both important and testable, on the other hand maybe this may be too far removed from developing world health to be useful. One such example: (PS. If you wanted to get in touch with them at least 1EA works there)

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 22 April 2016 08:53:16AM *  1 point [-]

Wow this looks excellent. Great work!! I have only skim read it because it is long and my time is short but there are a few unanswered questions that jump out at me in this that it would be great to see a bit more detail on:

Q1. Full consideration of tail risks. - The most convincing arguments I have heard as to why donating to say Cool Earth is better than say AMF is that when you consider the tail risk of global annihilation the cost per life saved of mitigating emissions drops considerably. You discuss tail risk on p1 but on p2 when you are looking at the costs and benefits of different strategies it does not appear that you consider the tail risk, even though that is where most of the expected deaths are likely to lie. - Is there anyway you can quantify the tail risk and build it into the expected costs benefit analysis on p2?

Q2. Indirect tail risks - The tail risk section only looks at the risk of rapid climate change directly causing deaths but are there not also lots of indirect risks that arise from climate change? - Eg. It is likely we will attempt geoengineering but this could go wrong and mess up the environment further. Instability arising from climate change could lead to WW3 or other x-risks (see Broad and narrow strategies for shaping the far future at

Q3. What is the point of mitigation? - (Sorry I am not expert in climate change and this issue confuses me and maybe there is a simple answer, maybe you wrote it and I missed it; but this confuses me) - My understating is that CO2 is the main problem and CO2 stays in the atmosphere for 1000's of years. Therefore reducing emissions in order to prevent climate change simply delays the problem, unless we actually stop emissions ever happening. So even if we cut our global coal consumption useage to like 25% its current usage but that means that we will take say 100 years rather than 25 years to empty out coal mines and burn all the coal there, this does not prevent climate change, just slows it down. If cool earth protects rainforest now but we expect that over the next 1000 years that rainforest will be destroyed anyway then it has not helped prevent climate change. Does that make sense?

Q4. Quantifying lobbying - Can you quantify the value of lobbying (even roughly) or give tips on how to do this for people who are considering donating to climate lobbying groups and want to make a best guess estimate of how this compares to other charities.

Q5. Where to lobby? - In what countries did you consider lobbying organisations? Is the US the best place for lobbying action?

Q6. The value of putting time into this? - (EA as a whole has been very bad at research into how best to spend spare hours to make the world a better place. Maybe not a question for you but more an 80000Hours or EA Action issue.) - If people have time to give rather than money to give what is the case that lobbying actions in the climate change arena are the best use of a few hours a week of spare time and what is the best way of an individual spending their time in this manner.

Sorry for all the questions. That was more questions than I expected when I started writing and some of them do not seem particularly relevant - I guess I just spewed out all my uncertainties about climate change.

Anyway this is truly a magnificent piece of research (to my layman's eyes at least) so well done :-)

Have also posted it in so hopefully you will get some more feedback.

Disclaimer: i have no expertise in climate change.

Also the link to does not work.

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 16 March 2016 08:37:23AM 1 point [-]

Hi Evan, This looks super interesting. What if anything could others do to help you achieve this? (For example volunteers to help with research / connections with environmental activists / connections to experts on climate change / etc)

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 09 March 2016 12:35:39AM 6 points [-]

I wrote a post asking for funding for the London EA community (See: A fair amount of work went into the details and the estimated returns and so on. Following on from this I successfully got commitments to donate from London EAs that reached the high end target of £35k and I am now turning down offers of additional funds. Just need to quit my job and get going running and building the London EA community :-)

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 03 March 2016 11:16:13PM 2 points [-]

This is amazing - well done guys.

One very specific question. I am impressed by how well you managed to track the breakdown of your time. Do you have any advice (or recommended apps etc) for doing this. (I find it difficult for example when dealing with a large number of emails on a variety of topics.)

Comment author: Michelle_Hutchinson 06 February 2016 04:50:14PM 2 points [-]

Ah, thanks, good to know where it came from. That doc is actually outdated (it uses data up to the end of 2013 only), the more recent figure is 104:1, which gives you something more like £460 per member. You can always find our most up to date impact evaluation of ourselves at Our cost per member seems to have been dropping over time. This is one of the key numbers we track in our yearly reviews, all of which you can find on this page.

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 12 February 2016 11:02:51AM 0 points [-]

FYI: I have updated the estimated returns and relevant data above. Happy to chat further if you think it would be helpful for improving the figures here.

Comment author: Michelle_Hutchinson 06 February 2016 04:13:42PM 4 points [-]

Thanks for producing such a thorough doc Sam. Seems like an exciting possibility. I'm not sure about your stat of it costing GWWC £1,000 to get a new member. Over 2015, just taking new members compared to budget, it cost £260 per additional member. On the other hand, it's plausible it's the marginal rather than mean cost per member that matters. One marginal activity which we could do more of with more staff (and indeed we will be doing more of in the future) is individual outreach - writing to people who have shown some interest in effective giving but aren't gwwc members, seeing if we can answer any questions or concerns they have, as well as learning more about how people typically hear about gwwc, what kinds of things act as attractors and barriers. As well as providing information to those we reach out to and allowing us to learn more about how we can improve our activities, it often acts as a nudge to people to join. Over Sep-Nov 2015, we put 100 hours into that, which led to 9 new members (not including information gained, people signing up to the newsletter etc). Costed at £10 per hour, that's £110 per member. (I'll be publishing our mid year review next week.) It's also plausible that the expected future mean effectiveness of gwwc is significantly higher than the impact of our median marginal activity, since we're aiming to find ways to massively scale - see 80k's blog post on taking the growth rather than marginal approach to evaluating start-ups. That's why we're trying out various different approaches rather than just putting more resources into existing activities.

Comment author: weeatquince  (EA Profile) 06 February 2016 04:36:42PM *  4 points [-]

Thanks Michelle, really useful feedback. Will update calculations and expected returns accordingly as soon as I get the chance.

If you are significantly more effective than I suggested above then that has two effects on the above: it would increase the expected effectiveness of this project, but decrease the chance that this project is worth funding when compared to GWWC etc.

My estimate for GWWC came from the 2015 Prospectus[1] For example the sentence "This equates to $67,000 per member, and suggests that our leverage ratio is around 60:1 – that is, for every $1 spent by Giving What We Can, around $60 will be donated to top charities." This suggests you spent so far $67,000 * (1/60) = $1117 per member = £770. (I did perhaps confuse £ and $). Very happy to discuss. Will drop you an email.



Effective Altruism London – a request for funding

INTRODUCTION (IE. THE EMOTIONAL ELEVATOR PITCH) There is a huge untapped potential to build a strong vibrant world-changing EA community in London. Recent EA events in London show we can have a significant impact on giving behaviour: 79% of attendees at a talk said they would 'think more where they... Read More

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