Thank you to everyone participating for the thorough discussion and raising the issue. I’m Henri Thunberg, the sole FTE of geeffektivt.se, the Swedish site picking up Giving Green’s research that was mentioned early on in Alex’s post. I wanted to elaborate on our reasoning to include Giving Green research. Nearly all of the decisions below were taken by me, and do not reflect the opinions of colleagues, volunteers, or other supporters.
A major data point for us to include climate as a cause area on our site was the fact that climate constituted 32% of the money raised by effektiv-spenden.org (a German regranting organization) in 2019. This spoke to our intuition that there are lots of inefficient solutions within climate, and that people are asking for promising organisations to donate to. We were particularly interested in bringing non-EA donations to the site, and thought climate would be an excellent way to do so in Sweden. We saw an opportunity to do so because of the ongoing debate around carbon offsets/personal footprint creating awareness of the risk for relatively bad solutions in a much more widespread way than for global health and animal welfare.
I was considering referring to Founders Pledge’s research rather than Giving Green. The reason I didn’t in the end was to some extent a worry that some of our users who are not familiar with FP might have a hard time understanding why we’re using the research of such an organization in particular when recommending climate charities.
I would like to thank Daniel Stein from Giving Green for making time to talk to me in December when we were launching the climate section of our site. Personally, I root for their mission and, like many others, I have been impressed with Giving Green’s work in such a brief time, and would very much like to see them grow. Partly to have more time for researching their recommendations, but also to reach a wider audience. I think a way that our site can contribute to making that happen is to show that there is a demand for this kind of research, and to see what level of impact GG would have through us.
Notes on BURN & the Sunrise Movement
Regarding the Sunrise Movement, we saw at least two reasons to be doubtful; the evidence seemed tenuous, and there were concerns about (local) opposition to nuclear energy and CCS. In the end that was the only charity out of the Giving Green recommendations that we chose to not put on our website. At the time we saw it more as it being “put on hold” than a definite rejection of TSM, but it seems like the critique in this forum post will further decrease the chances of us recommending them.
As I was a bit concerned about the general critique against cook stoves and relying on a single RCT for BURN, I have been in contact with experts from Stockholm Environmental Institute to get further external input on the evidence. Their response was initially positive regarding BURN, to the point that we have not excluded that recommendation. That communication with SEI is still ongoing, and hopefully something I can get their permission both to relay to Giving Green and post in this thread. We think many of our donors might appreciate the economic and health benefits that come with BURN, as our typical user chooses global health as the preferred cause area.
Our donation data so far within climate
After around one month with the Giving Green recommendations on our site, we stand at around €1,363 in climate donations out of our €38k total (excluding Facebook fundraisers). At this point, it should be stated that global health has been on our website as a cause for about twice as long (since early December 2020) compared to animal welfare (~€970 raised) and climate. This is especially skewed since that extra time was during giving season/launch.
Out of the 36 donations to climate as a cause area, 58% of the money (16/36 donations) chose the option “Let us choose within climate” rather than a specific charity. I expect the climate donations that we dispose of freely to go to Clean Air Task Force. Furthermore, those who chose a specific charity went mostly for CATF with 17.5% (11 donations). A total of 25% went to BURN, Climeworks and Tradewater through three donations each. Unfortunately, our systems are not yet well prepared to answer any question on the reasoning of our donors that made Clean Air Task Force the prevailing choice.
Reflection moving forward
Both before and after this forum post I have had some thoughts on how we could include climate on our site in a way that is in line with what we want to achieve.
It seems a major concern of this original post is putting Giving Green research on equal footing with GiveWell. We will add a text highlighting how much work went into the GiveWell research. We will describe Giving Green as a new and promising organization starting to do similar work within climate, while also mentioning their strategy to guide a wide audience with particular preferences in addition to cost-effectiveness.
We will include a text about the importance of choosing cause area wisely somewhere close to the descriptions of GiveWell, ACE, and Giving Green.
We will keep having Clean Air Task Force as the first and thus most visible option on the site
We have now made the estimated cost-effectiveness per CO2e more visible to users to underline that there is a difference.
As far as I understand we’re currently lacking such number estimates for BURN and Trade water, but from Daniel’s comment above it seems like Giving Green might aim to get such estimates in the future.
This could possibly be emphasized further through some kind of “badge” in line with “Most cost-effective”, in addition to the text we already have, although I suspect many unfortunately won’t read that far. I appreciate the language used by Giving Green to highlight the differences between their recommendations, and those might be what we go for.
I would appreciate further input on how we, especially with regard to climate, could act in a way that is intellectually honest, minimizes EA reputational risks and maximizes the good we do through raised donations.
Thanks for the great work you’re doing! It’s exciting to see numbers on donor preferences (even if the samples are small so far). I think this data you are collecting has potential to be really helpful in forming answers to a couple of the high level questions I raised at the start, and I have a few thoughts on how to extend this. I’ll send you a message.