Questions from potential donors to Giving What We Can, 80,000 Hours and EAA

UPDATE: Will has re­sponded here.

The Cen­tre for Effec­tive Altru­ism has re­cently opened up for dona­tions. This is the um­brella or­gani­sa­tion for Giv­ing What We Can (GWWC), 80,000 Hours (80K) and Effec­tive An­i­mal Ac­tivism (EAA, which I think is still for­mally part of 80K). I re­sponded to Will Crouch in an email with a list of ques­tions. You’re wel­come to add to the list in the com­ments and I’ll make sure the ques­tions get to him.

Will seems pretty cool about the whole trans­parency thing so any an­swers will hope­fully make their way onto the LW Dis­cus­sion board. Will (and Ben Todd) will try to take the time to give ac­cu­rate and well-formed an­swers where pos­si­ble.

CEA is based in the UK so figures are in GBP.

1. What would you do with differ­ent fund­ing lev­els?
- The “what would my money buy” sec­tion of the donate page gives me a vague idea
- It’s eas­ier to un­der­stand in­for­ma­tion of the form “If we got £50,000 over the next year we’d do this, if we got £100,000 over the next year we’d do this and this”
—I un­der­stand if you’re un­able to pro­duce that kind of in­for­ma­tion
- That kind of in­for­ma­tion is par­tic­u­larly use­ful for eval­u­at­ing “did things go as well as they were sup­posed to, given the amount of fund­ing we ac­tu­ally re­ceived”
—Par­tic­u­larly use­ful for me as I’m try­ing to train my­self to iden­tify fund­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. So I’ll need feed­back as to whether I got it right!

2. How much money are you ex­pect­ing?
- You say on the donate page that you’ve spent less than £20,000
- This must have come from some­where—how much of that par­tic­u­lar source of fund­ing is still available?
- Are you get­ting any other emails like this one? (Edit: i.e. which are offer­ing dona­tions, pos­si­bly con­di­tional on an­swer­ing some ques­tions first)
- Do you have any plans (per­haps in the longer term) to chase af­ter big money e.g. Peter Thiel?
- Are you ex­pect­ing to get a lot of dona­tions back from peo­ple who’ve re­ceived ad­vice and help from 80K?
- I sort of get the im­pres­sion that there’s a lot of good feel­ing to­wards 80K at least within the effec­tive al­tru­ist com­mu­nity, and for that rea­son it might not be too hard for you to find funds. To what ex­tent do you agree with this?

3. Which is more use­ful, reg­u­lar dona­tions or lump sums?

4. If you had funds to hire an ex­tra per­son, do you know how that per­son would be?
- How im­por­tant is it to find tal­ented peo­ple to work for you?
- Are you try­ing to find some­one from the top 5%? The top 1%?

5. Where do you see the delineation be­tween what CEA does and what other effec­tive al­tru­ist orgs do?
- Global Catas­trophic Risk In­sti­tute
- Cen­ter for Ap­plied Ra­tion­al­ity
- Fu­ture of Hu­man­ity In­sti­tute

6. How much per­sonal con­nec­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion is there be­tween CEA and these orgs?

7. How do you as­sess the cred­i­bil­ity of money pledged?

8. How are you mea­sur­ing money moved/​pledged?
- GiveWell give the im­pres­sion of be­ing par­tic­u­larly care­ful about this
- GW also com­mu­ni­cate it very openly, in­clud­ing a break­down of how much money goes to which cause. Are you plan­ning to com­mu­ni­cate it in a similar way?
- How much money do you ex­pect to move next year?
- How much of your “money moved” will also get counted as GiveWell’s “money moved”? (This is par­tic­u­larly rele­vant when us­ing money moved figures to es­ti­mate the size of the effec­tive giv­ing sec­tor as a whole)

9. You do a bunch of differ­ent but re­lated things—web­site con­tent, speaker events, ca­reer coun­sel­ing,
- Do you imag­ine your­self spe­cial­is­ing in just one of these in the fu­ture?
- Are you at the stage of ex­per­i­ment­ing to find out which ac­tivity is the most effec­tive?
- Is there syn­ergy be­tween them? (e.g. if ca­reer ad­vice ses­sions and web­site con­tent are both a lot more effec­tive if you’re also do­ing the other one)

10. I have very lit­tle idea about what the 80K com­mu­nity is like or how ex­actly you in­vest in it
—in what ways does your team in­ter­act with your com­mu­nity, other than one-on-one ca­reer ad­vice and host­ing speaker events?
- do you in­vest in mem­bers’ skills such as crit­i­cal think­ing and the abil­ity to eval­u­ate or­gani­sa­tions?
- what other skills and qual­ities do you want to de­velop in your mem­bers, and how do you plan to go about it?
- to what ex­tent do you think tal­ents and abil­ities are in­her­ent (or at least be­yond your con­trol), and to what ex­tent are they train­able?

11. Is 80K plan­ning ac­tivity in any new phys­i­cal lo­ca­tions?
- If so, where?
- If there’s already a THINK com­mu­nity in that lo­ca­tion, what do you imag­ine the re­la­tion­ship be­tween THINK and 80K look­ing like?

12. What does 80K/​CEA plan in the way of self-eval­u­a­tion?

13. What are you plan­ning in the way of fi­nan­cial trans­parency?

14. You said in your LW post that you have “much more in­for­ma­tion available” on GWWC’s im­pact.

15. There’s ap­par­ently a lot of in­ter­est in xrisk among 80K mem­bers. Do you know why this is?

16. Do you know of any other or­gani­sa­tions that do any­thing similar to what you do? (other than ones I’ve already men­tioned). In par­tic­u­lar any groups that give ca­reer ad­vice to philan­thropists.

UPDATE: Will has re­sponded here.