Thanks for the writeup! I continue to think this is a cool idea, especially as it is so counter-intuitive to many people.
The lottery is administered by EA Funds, which is a project of the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA). CEA can only make grants that are within its charitable objectives, and retains sole discretion over where the final grants are made. This means that we won’t make grants that run counter to broad altruistic principles, or to projects that don’t satisfy our regular due diligence requirements.
Is there anything you can say about how often, if at all, this has been the case? I guess there have been relatively few winners in the past so I would guess the answer is ‘never’?
Yeah, I think ‘never’ is correct for donor lottery winners thus far. I’d guess this situation would be pretty rare in practice (even as we run more lotteries), but we want people to be informed that there are some constraints. People have generally checked in with us beforehand if they’ve got something of an edge-case in mind, and the only times I can remember saying a hard ‘no’ were for partisan political organisations (which we can’t make grants to).
I haven’t checked with our ops/legal team, but here are some examples of grants I personally would guess we probably can’t make: political lobbying and partisan campaign funding, supporting individuals without a clear public benefit (e.g., giving people money to free up their time without an explicit expectation that they will do something good for the world), religious missionary work to save souls from hell, supporting very specific groups (e.g., distributing unconditional funding to all members of a particular EA group). Basically there needs to be a convincing common-sense argument that the grant is for the public benefit.