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 donated’ 19% of at­ten­dees at a ca­reer work­shop took the GWWC pledge. Yet these events, and other events, sold out. Peo­ple were turned away. Else­where we are turn­ing down re­quests to give talks. Po­ten­tial is be­ing missed and the grow­ing task of build­ing the com­mu­nity needs more than just vol­un­teer time. If we can raise the funds for a paid co­or­di­na­tor we are con­fi­dent we can get 100s of new at­ten­dees at events and ex­pect well over 50 peo­ple to take the GWWC pledge or make some other sig­nifi­cant be­havi­our change this year alone.

But more im­por­tantly than just sup­port­ing and grow­ing the com­mu­nity, a paid co­or­di­na­tor could ex­per­i­ment. They would be ex­pected to take an en­trepreneurial ap­proach to move­ment build­ing: con­sid­er­ing and test­ing hy­pothe­ses; learn­ing, mea­sur­ing and dis­cov­er­ing bet­ter ways of cre­at­ing a pow­er­ful effec­tive al­tru­ism com­mu­nity; and so defin­ing the path for other EA com­mu­ni­ties in cities around the world. A paid city EA co­or­di­na­tor is in it­self an ex­per­i­ment and one with huge po­ten­tial.

But this pro­ject will not hap­pen with­out your fund­ing!

A gen­er­ous donor is match­ing all money donated so we only need to raise £12-£15k. We are look­ing for com­mit­ments to donate at some point within this year (likely in the next tax year)

To find out more or ar­range a Skype call or pledge to donate, please email Sam Hil­ton at samueljhilton@gmail.com

Full de­tails below

KEY INFORMATION AND ESTIMATED IMPACTS

Key in­for­ma­tion contents

  • Back­ground—In­tro­duc­tion to effec­tive al­tru­ism and Effec­tive Altru­ism London

  • Back­ground—Size and growth of EA Lon­don so far

  • Back­ground—The im­pact of EA Lon­don so far

  • Plans—How funds will be used?

  • Plans—What ac­tions will be taken by the EA Lon­don staff mem­ber?

  • Im­pact—Es­ti­mated returns

  • Im­pact—Other considerations

  • Donating

Back­ground—In­tro­duc­tion to effec­tive al­tru­ism and Effec­tive Altru­ism London

If you are un­fa­mil­iar with the con­cept of effec­tive al­tru­ism (EA) or the ra­tio­nale for build­ing an EA com­mu­nity in Lon­don then please see the back­ground note here.

Back­ground—Size and growth of EA Lon­don so far

So far (as at draft­ing date of 10 Jan 2016), EA Lon­don has ap­prox­i­mately 6 events a month and a grow­ing net­work of around a 1000 in­di­vi­d­u­als (not count­ing uni­ver­sity EA groups). This is made up of a Meetup.com group of 682 peo­ple, a Face­book group of 634 peo­ple 299 email ad­dresses. The ma­jor­ity of the events so­cials, which re­quire min­i­mal or­gani­sa­tion. This group is grow­ing rapidly. In the last year the Meetup group grew by 500 peo­ple and we have gone from hold­ing only 2 events a month to 6 events a month.

We have a 3 stage model of how we cre­ate im­pact. Aware­ness of the Lon­don EA com­mu­nity leads to peo­ple en­gag­ing with the com­mu­nity which leads to peo­ple chang­ing their be­havi­our to be more al­tru­is­tic and effec­tive:

Aware­ness (of EAL)

Engagement

Chang­ing behaviour

Hap­pens through:

Meetup.com, word of mouth, wider EA

Event at­ten­dance,
(some on­line ac­tivity)

Event at­ten­dance,
(some per­sonal sup­port)

Mea­sured by:

Num­bers on Meetup, Face­book, email, etc

Event at­ten­dance, Face­book conversation

Sur­veys on self-re­ported change, pro­jects started

Es­ti­mated im­pact:

1000+ contacts

600 event attendees

75 reg­u­lar attendees

25+ seen a sig­nifi­cant change in behaviour

Back­ground—The im­pact of EA Lon­don so far

We mea­sured self-re­ported be­havi­our change by sur­vey­ing at­ten­dees at so­cial events. Of reg­u­lar at­ten­dees 29% said that EA Lon­don has already had a sig­nifi­cant im­pact on their be­havi­our. Tak­ing a best guess at the num­ber of at­ten­dees at so­cial events we ex­pect EA Lon­don to have had a sig­nifi­cant im­pact on be­havi­our of over 20 reg­u­lar at­ten­dees in the last year. For more on this see the sec­tion on How did you es­ti­mate your im­pact to date?

As well as en­courag­ing changes in be­havi­our we also have anec­do­tal re­ports that we help keep peo­ple act­ing in EA ways and re­main­ing con­nected to the EA com­mu­nity. We have also re­ceived praise as be­ing a use­ful place for net­work­ing.

EA Lon­don has also hosted a num­ber of highly suc­cess­ful (albeit harder to or­ganise) events in the past year, speci­fi­cally 2 large talks and a ca­reers work­shop run by 80,000 Hours (80K). All these events sold out, at 400 tick­ets, 150 tick­ets and 79 signups (with ac­tual on the day at­ten­dances of was roughly 330, 110 and 21). The ca­reers work­shop was par­tic­u­larly suc­cess­ful with 9 peo­ple mak­ing changes to their ca­reer plans in­clud­ing 4 peo­ple tak­ing the Giv­ing What We Can (GWWC) pledge at the event. EA Lon­don has also helped start stu­dent groups in 3 Lon­don uni­ver­si­ties.

This has been achieved on a min­i­mal time cost. Es­ti­mated time put in by the main or­ganiser (Sam) over the last year into EA Lon­don event or­ganis­ing, strat­egy, man­ag­ing vol­un­teers and ad­min was roughly 200 hours (ad­di­tional time has now gone into fundrais­ing). Very lit­tle money has been spent (in fact we raised more for effec­tive char­i­ties from ticket sales than we spent).

Plans—How funds will be used?

Money raised will go to­wards:

  • One part time or full time mem­ber of staff (£20k-£30k)

  • Ad­di­tional funds for some mar­ket­ing and events (£1-£5k)

The money will at first fund Sam Hil­ton, who has been run­ning EA ac­tivity in Lon­don to date. Sam will be paid £10 an hour for a 32 or 40 hours work a week, de­pend­ing on funds available (and it is highly likely that Sam would put in ad­di­tional time and/​or take a lower salary). This may change as the pro­ject pro­gresses, we may bring on an in­tern or hire a differ­ent staff mem­ber, and so on. The lead staff mem­ber will likely be sup­ported by a small vol­un­teer man­age­ment board who provide some ad­di­tional sup­port and en­sure ac­countabil­ity of the staff mem­ber over­sight to the pro­ject.

The em­ployee will im­ple­ment a plan for sup­port­ing and grow­ing the EA com­mu­nity in Lon­don, likely with the fol­low­ing aims:

  1. Pri­mary aim: Work out the best ways of build­ing an en­gaged EA com­mu­nity in London

  2. Se­condary aim: Sup­port and in­spire those in the EA Lon­don com­mu­nity to have a greater pos­i­tive im­pact on the world.

  3. Ter­tiary aim: Grow the EA move­ment in London

This doc­u­ment talks a lot about “build­ing” an EA com­mu­nity. We con­sider this to be both grow­ing the EA com­mu­nity and also sup­port­ing and im­prov­ing those already in the com­mu­nity. We have pri­ori­tised the sup­port­ing and im­prov­ing as­pect above gen­er­at­ing large num­bers of in­ter­ested peo­ple, for more on this see the FAQ on Why have you pri­ori­tised the sup­port­ing and im­prov­ing as­pect above gen­er­at­ing large num­bers of in­ter­ested peo­ple?

Plans—What ac­tions will be taken by the EA Lon­don staff mem­ber?

Work­ing out the best ways of build­ing an en­gaged EA com­mu­nity in Lon­don. We want to take a ex­per­i­men­tal, en­trepreneurial ap­proach to move­ment build­ing. This will in­volve:

  • Re­search­ing move­ment build­ing and in­ter­act­ing with other EA orgs such as EA Outreach (EAO).

  • Gen­er­at­ing testable hy­pothe­ses on how to build an EA com­mu­nity in Lon­don and how to change peo­ple’s be­havi­our and test­ing those hy­pothe­ses.

  • Set­ting up CRM soft­ware to col­lect data on those who en­gage with EA Lon­don and a web­site that can be used for AB test­ing and so on.

  • Ex­per­i­ment­ing with differ­ent strate­gies for rais­ing aware­ness and en­gage­ment. As part of this we will mon­i­tor how quickly differ­ent peo­ple brought in from differ­ent routes take on board EA ideas. We will ex­per­i­ment with:

    • Differ­ent forms of on­line marketing

    • Press coverage

    • Differ­ently branded Meetup groups such as “Chris­ti­ans for do­ing good”, “eth­i­cal self-im­prove­ment”, “how to heal the world”, etc

    • Large events

    • Cor­po­rate en­gage­ment (e.g. work­place giv­ing pro­grammes)

    • In per­son (net­work­ing /​ door to door /​ ca­reers fairs)

    • etc

  • Ex­per­i­ment­ing with differ­ent strate­gies for chang­ing be­havi­our and with a va­ri­ety of events de­signed to build un­der­stand­ing of EA ideas, such as:

    • Workshops

    • Giv­ing Circles

    • Discussions

    • One-on-one sup­port /​ conversations

    • etc

  • Data col­lec­tion through fo­cused con­ver­sa­tions with in­di­vi­d­u­als, sur­veys at events, the EA sur­vey, and pas­sively mon­i­tor­ing at­ten­dance num­bers and GWWC pledges.

  • Analysing data col­lected.

  • Mon­i­tor­ing for any po­ten­tial risks of rapid move­ment growth. See ques­tion in the Q&A on What are the risks of grow­ing the move­ment too fast?

  • Pub­lish­ing data, les­sons learned and in­for­ma­tion gleaned so oth­ers in the wider EA com­mu­nity can look at and use what we dis­cov­erer.

Sup­port­ing and in­spiring those in the EA Lon­don com­mu­nity to have a greater pos­i­tive im­pact on the world. Much of this will be cov­ered by the ac­tions above but we will also:

  • Make sure the com­mu­nity is sup­port­ive and welcoming

  • En­sure reg­u­lar events continue

  • Manag­ing any vol­un­teers who are keen to help with build­ing the EA Lon­don community

  • En­courage the cre­ation of EA pro­jects /​ so­cial en­ter­prises /​ char­i­ties in Lon­don and provide sup­port to any­one look­ing to start an EA pro­ject.

Grow the EA move­ment in Lon­don. Much of this will be cov­ered by the ac­tions above but we will also:

  • Provide suffi­cient events and con­tinual routes of en­gage­ment to make sure those that are aware of EA Lon­don have a way to en­gage with us.

  • Take up any par­tic­u­larly good op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow EA Lon­don, such as speak­ing events at large com­pa­nies.

  • Sup­port­ing the growth of the uni­ver­sity chap­ters in London

Im­pact—Es­ti­mated returns

The es­ti­mated re­turns in the next year for this pro­ject are:

  • Aware­ness: New con­tacts (email, meetup, etc) of 1,500-2,500 peo­ple.

  • En­gage­ment: Unique new event at­ten­dees of: 400-800

  • Be­havi­our change: Be­come reg­u­lar event at­ten­dees: 50-250

    • New GWWC pledges: 20-55

    • New sig­nifi­cant ca­reer changes: 10-30

This is the coun­ter­fac­tual benefit that would be cre­ated on top of the benefit that will be achieved if no ad­di­tional money is put into EA Lon­don.

We ex­pect to raise in year over £120,000 for top char­i­ties that would have not been donated any­way, at a cost of £30,000, with over 10 times more raised in to­tal in the long run as a re­sult of fu­ture pledges to give and peo­ple chang­ing their be­havi­our.

We be­lieve there is a small chance of hav­ing a much much higher di­rect im­pact. For de­tails please see the sec­tion be­low on How did you es­ti­mate the ex­pected re­turns?

Im­pact—Other considerations

We think that this rep­re­sents a par­tic­u­larly good way of spend­ing funds on EA out­reach, in com­par­i­son to other EA out­reach op­por­tu­ni­ties. We have a strat­egy for EA move­ment build­ing that could benefit from fur­ther ex­plo­ra­tion and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, whist at the same time is not just a shot in the dark, as we have data be­hind us show­ing our suc­cess over the past few years of growth. We have the ad­van­tage of be­ing able to out­reach to a wide au­di­ence of 9 mil­lion Lon­don­ers yet fol­low up in per­son. For more on this see the FAQ on Why do we think this is a par­tic­u­larly good way of spend­ing funds on EA out­reach?

We also think that as well as these im­pacts there will be a sig­nifi­cant im­pact of knowl­edge gained through ex­per­i­ment­ing in move­ment build­ing which could lead to an ex­po­nen­tial pos­i­tive im­pact on the world. We think this pro­ject largely ticks the boxes as be­ing hugely valuable based on what 80K de­scribe as “the growth ap­proach to eval­u­at­ing startup non-prof­its” For more on this please see the sec­tion in the FAQ on What is your po­ten­tial for growth?

Donating

Money is needed now as those in­volved in EA Lon­don are de­cid­ing in what di­rec­tion to take the pro­ject for­ward and whether to in­vest ad­di­tional time in the com­mu­nity. If we do not make a min­i­mum tar­get of £25k by Sun­day 20th March* this pro­ject will not go ahead.

This pro­ject is be­ing half funded (up to £30k) by Kit Har­ris who many of you may know. This means your dona­tion will be matched. The funds are true match­ing rather than an out­right dona­tion be­cause he wants the pro­ject to be funded if and only if the com­mu­nity be­lieves it to be highly valuable. Thanks to this match­ing the min­i­mum ad­di­tional amount we need to raise is only £12.5k. Our ideal tar­get is £15k (£30k af­ter match­ing) and we could use up to £35k in or­der to cover the costs of events and mar­ket­ing as well as a staff mem­ber.

We are hop­ing that peo­ple within the EA com­mu­nity – es­pe­cially those in Lon­don who know the com­mu­nity first hand will con­sider donat­ing to this.

As we are not yet a reg­istered char­ity we are ask­ing for a com­mit­ment to donate in the fu­ture (likely in the next UK tax year). We may be able to pro­cess some larger dona­tions now through con­nec­tions with other or­gani­sa­tions.


*Dead­line pushed back a week due to com­pet­ing com­mit­ments that week.

FAQ – WITH ALL OF THE FACTS AND DATA

FAQ contents

  • What will hap­pen to EA Lon­don if not funded?

  • Who is Sam Hil­ton and why is he qual­ified to be run­ning this?

  • Why do we think this is a par­tic­u­larly good way of spend­ing funds on EA out­reach?

  • What is your po­ten­tial for growth?

  • What are the best rea­sons to not fund EA Lon­don?

  • What pro­jects fall into a similar refer­ence class that can give some idea that this will be a suc­cess?

  • Why now?

  • Why Lon­don?

  • Why have you pri­ori­tised the sup­port­ing and im­prov­ing as­pect above gen­er­at­ing large num­bers of in­ter­ested peo­ple?

  • What are the risks of grow­ing the move­ment too fast?

  • Will my dona­tion make a differ­ence – won’t this just get fully funded any­way?

  • How does this fit in with the strat­egy of the Cen­tre for Effec­tive Altru­ism (CEA) /​ why are CEA not fund­ing you?

  • Will I have a say over how you use my gift?

  • What is your plan for mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­at­ing im­pact?

  • How did you es­ti­mate your im­pact to date?

  • How did you es­ti­mate the ex­pected re­turns?

  • How much have you raised so far?

  • What func­tion will the over­sight com­mit­tee play?

  • I have feed­back on the plan.

What will hap­pen to EA Lon­don if not funded?

If the pro­ject does not go ahead EA Lon­don will con­tinue to be run but on a much more min­i­mal ba­sis than it has been re­cently (un­less ad­di­tional vol­un­teers step in). There will likely still be at least a monthly so­cial. This benefit of this has already been in­cluded in the es­ti­mated re­turns calcu­la­tions.

Who is Sam Hil­ton and why is he qual­ified to be run­ning this?

Sam has been helping run effec­tive al­tru­ism events for 5 years since early 2011 when he started helping GWWC with their early re­search and out­reach in Oxford. He has been heav­ily in­volved in the EA move­ment ever since. In 2012 and 2013 he helped run two small char­i­ties that out­reach EA ideas, The Life You Can Save and THINK. Since 2013 Sam has been work­ing as a policy ad­vi­sor for the UK Trea­sury and run­ning EA ac­tivi­ties in Lon­don.

Why do we think this is a par­tic­u­larly good way of spend­ing funds on EA out­reach?

  • Due to be­ing based in a sin­gle (very large) city we are able to fol­low up any out­reach with in per­son com­mu­ni­ca­tion (with­out run­ning out of peo­ple to talk to). Based on pre­vi­ous ex­pe­rience we think this is an ex­cel­lent way of out­reach­ing EA ideas

  • Our es­ti­mates, based on suc­cesses so far, of ex­pected re­turns on chang­ing peo­ple’s be­havi­our and giv­ing habits are eas­ily com­pa­rable to that of other EA or­gani­sa­tions. Please see the sec­tion on How did you es­ti­mate the ex­pected re­turns?

  • By at­tempt­ing some­thing differ­ent, ie. a paid city co­or­di­na­tor, from what has been tried el­se­where, there is a lot that can be learned from this pro­ject.

  • Be­cause of our lo­ca­tion in Lon­don we are well placed to tar­get de­mo­graph­ics who have skills, ex­pe­rience, money and in­fluence.

(Note: This sec­tion was ed­ited fol­low­ing feed­back)

    What is your po­ten­tial for growth?

    The es­ti­mated re­turns pre­sented rep­re­sent what 80000 Hours call the “marginal ap­proach to eval­u­at­ing startup non-prof­its”. In this ar­ti­cle they make a case for eval­u­at­ing non-prof­its based on the po­ten­tial for fu­ture growth. We think that this pro­ject largely ticks the boxes as be­ing hugely valuable when as­sessed in terms of the po­ten­tial for fu­ture growth as:

    • We have a great track record of suc­cess at build­ing an EA com­mu­nity so far and those work­ing on the EA move­ment in Lon­don have shown sig­nifi­cant skill at com­mu­nity build­ing and de­ter­mi­na­tion in this pur­suit.

    • By iden­ti­fy­ing good ways of build­ing an EA com­mu­nity in Lon­don we are gen­er­at­ing an ap­proach that could be repli­cated, both within Lon­don in fu­ture years (given a pop­u­la­tion of 9 mil­lion we are un­likely to reach a plateau soon) or in other cities all around the world. The im­pact of this is po­ten­tially ex­po­nen­tial.

    • Find­ing a way of get­ting peo­ple to do more good and to do so effec­tively would be hugely valuable to the world.

    • This is not cur­rently be­ing done any­where else. Lon­don is cur­rently the largest non-stu­dent EA com­mu­nity in any city mak­ing it an ex­cel­lent place to be­gin such an ex­per­i­ment.

      What are the best rea­sons to not fund EA Lon­don?

      Some gen­uine at­tempts to steel-man the case against donat­ing:

      1. If you are a mem­ber of the EA Lon­don com­mu­nity you are likely to be bi­ased to­wards think­ing that this is a good idea and so should be wary of donat­ing.

      2. You should sig­nifi­cantly dis­count much of what is writ­ten here as the au­thors are likely bi­ased. Sam’s ini­tial es­ti­mate of im­pact (see point 1. here) was much higher than later es­ti­mates of im­pact, this is ev­i­dence that he feels that the value of grow­ing EA Lon­don is greater than it ac­tu­ally is. This means he is likely to over­es­ti­mate the im­pact of EA Lon­don. There is also some risk that the au­thors of this doc­u­ment are overly driven by de­sires for per­sonal gain or sta­tus or satis­fac­tion.

      3. One should not fund new pro­jects un­less there is a strong need for them – only fund tried and tested pro­jects. Most so­cial in­ter­ven­tions fail. Most de­vel­op­ment char­i­ties are worse than a char­ity that just gives money to poor peo­ple (ie. Give Directly). It is un­likely that this will do any­thing but fail. The ev­i­dence for the suc­cess of this is too weak.

      4. The es­ti­mated im­pacts are poorly con­structed spec­u­la­tive non­sense. See the sec­tion be­low on How did you es­ti­mate the ex­pected re­turns?

      5. Sup­port­ing meta-char­i­ties, like this pro­ject, is the wrong course of ac­tion. Build­ing a move­ment that spends money on its own growth is cir­cu­lar and helps no­body. It is un­likely that new EA’s brought into the move­ment will cre­ate suffi­cient ad­di­tional so­cial im­pact to make this pro­ject worth­while.

      6. If the EA move­ment was to spend on meta-char­i­ties it should do so by spend­ing on build­ing up the qual­ity of re­search it has car­ried out rather than di­rect out­reach. This is how GiveWell have been so suc­cess­ful.

      We also think there are counter-ar­gu­ments for each of these points.
      Some use­ful coun­ter­vailing in­for­ma­tion is:

      • When con­sid­er­ing point 2. please con­sider that Sam and one other Lon­don EA pre­dicted the re­sult of data col­lected from sur­veys prior to data col­lec­tion and their pre­dic­tions were overly pes­simistic rather than overly op­ti­mistic.

      • On points 5. and 6. please see the ar­ti­cles here and here.

      What pro­jects fall into a similar refer­ence class that can give some idea that this will be a suc­cess?

      Within the EA community

      • Or­gani­sa­tions such as 80,000 Hours and Giv­ing What We Can out­reach EA ideas. They lead to a new ca­reer change or GWWC pledge for each £1000.

      • Lo­cal stu­dent group suc­cess­fully out­reach EA ideas. How­ever pro­fes­sion­als in Lon­don have less time (and hope­fully more money).

      Within Lon­don there are a num­ber of other groups in Lon­don that pro­mote philan­thropy and are suc­cess­fully grow­ing in­clud­ing:

      • Beyond Me

      • Be More

      On the other hand it has been re­ported that hu­man­ist and sec­u­lar or­gani­sa­tions have found paid or­ganisers in cities to be a poor use of time and re­sources.

      The Hu­mane League (a top recom­mended an­i­mal char­ity) re­port that they have staff work­ing on ve­gan out­reach in spe­cific lo­ca­tions. How­ever most other ve­gan out­reach char­i­ties do not do this.

      Why now?

      The timing of this is closely tied up with Sam’s ca­reer de­ci­sions. He cur­rently works part time at the UK Trea­sury. He is keen to al­ter this ca­reer path some-what, and many of the likely job op­tions in­volve mov­ing back to full time work and it does not seem likely that he will be able to or keen to put more than an hour or 2 a week into EA Lon­don when in a new job, de­pend­ing on the de­mand­ing­ness of the job, the lo­ca­tion of the job and so on.

      Why Lon­don?

      • This kind of EA out­reach is not cur­rently be­ing done any­where else. Lon­don is cur­rently the largest non-stu­dent EA com­mu­nity in any city mak­ing it an ex­cel­lent place to be­gin such an ex­per­i­ment.

      • Lon­don promises huge po­ten­tial for change and in­fluence, it is one of the world’s rich­est cities and also the seat of UK poli­ti­cal power.

      • Lon­don is also the home of other or­gani­sa­tions con­nected to the EA move­ment such as SCI, AMF, the Founders Pledge, etc.

      Why have you pri­ori­tised the sup­port­ing and im­prov­ing as­pect above gen­er­at­ing large num­bers of in­ter­ested peo­ple?

      This de­ci­sion is based largely on our model of how to build a suc­cess­ful move­ment and how the global EA com­mu­nity should be grow­ing. This is in turn based largely on the re­search into move­ment growth car­ried out by EAO. Their pri­mary rea­son for be­liev­ing a lo­cal EA group should pri­ori­tise sup­port­ing and ed­u­cat­ing those already aware of EA is that they see risks of too rapid move­ment growth. See sec­tion be­low on What are the risks of grow­ing the move­ment too fast?

      It is a key part of this pro­ject to do more re­search into how move­ments grow. It is likely that our un­der­stand­ing and views will change as we look into these is­sue in greater de­tail. In that re­gard we will adapt our pri­ori­ties ac­cord­ingly.

      Another rea­son for tak­ing a slower ap­proach to move­ment build­ing is that a plan for out­reach­ing EA to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble was con­sid­ered and re­jected by EA Lon­don sup­port­ers at the most re­cent EA Lon­don strat­egy meet­ing. De­tails of spe­cific plan con­sid­ered are on p2 here and min­utes of the meet­ing are available upon re­quest.

      What are the risks of grow­ing the move­ment too fast?

      • Os­sifi­ca­tion: Loss of key ideas, such as cause neu­tral­ity and chang­ing one’s mind.

      • Mis­rep­re­sent­ing EA: Peo­ple don’t join /​ do join for the wrong rea­sons.

      • In­ter­nal up­heaval: Eg. if too pop­u­lar may at­tract difficult to han­dle in­di­vi­d­u­als.

      • Dilu­tion: Not enough EAs to lead to good con­ver­sa­tions etc. (Eter­nal Sept Effect)

      • Lack of di­ver­sity: Could halt move­ment growth out­side typ­i­cal de­mo­graphic.

      Will my dona­tion make a differ­ence – won’t this just get fully funded any­way?

      Whether this pro­ject goes ahead is en­tirely de­pen­dent on if we get suffi­cient dona­tions. Our cur­rent best guess is that there is a 65% chance we will get suffi­cient dona­tions.

      How does this fit in with the strat­egy of the Cen­tre for Effec­tive Altru­ism (CEA) /​ why are CEA not fund­ing you?

      EA Lon­don is a sep­a­rate group from CEA, albeit with similar aims (and a similar name), and should not be con­fused. How­ever we have worked closely to­gether to date and are keen to do so in fu­ture. We did ask EAO (part of CEA) for fund­ing and for feed­back on this pro­ject. They chose not to fund us but do recog­nise this as a this as a po­ten­tially valuable pro­ject.

      On fund­ing Kerry Vaughan from EAO said: “If we provide money for folks to do move­ment build­ing, I’d want them to be a part of the full EAO team. The prob­lem for EAO is that a) we’re man­age­ment con­strained; and b) We haven’t yet defined ex­actly what the lo­cal move­ment builders would do. I think we need to solve these prob­lems be­fore tak­ing on new peo­ple.” and “At this stage in EAO’s de­vel­op­ment, I think I need very high cre­dence in the per­son to make ad­di­tional hires and I don’t think I’m there cur­rently.”

      On whether fund­ing EA Lon­don is a good use of funds they said they “think EA’s fund­ing EA Lon­don is to­tally rea­son­able” and have been gen­er­ally pos­i­tive about the out-puts of EA Lon­don. EAO have their own plans for paid EA co­or­di­na­tors in large cities fur­ther down the line, and we hope the ac­tions of EA Lon­don can sup­port this

      Will I have a say over how you use my dona­tion?

      You will have limited in­put on the de­tails of how your dona­tion is spent but if this is a big rea­son to con­sider not donat­ing then get in touch. Cur­rently ev­ery­one in EA Lon­don can have a say on how they see the Lon­don EA move­ment pro­gress­ing at the quar­terly strat­egy meet­ings. As men­tioned there will also likely be some form of over­sight com­mit­tee, but it is un­clear who will be on it.

      What is your plan for mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­at­ing im­pact?

      We will be look­ing to mea­sure im­pact across all of this. We are open to the best ways of mea­sur­ing im­pact but we will con­sider met­rics such as self-re­ported change in be­havi­our or in ca­reer plans, tak­ing the GWWC pledge and amounts donated.

      We will col­lect data through, fo­cused con­ver­sa­tions with in­di­vi­d­u­als, sur­veys at events, the global EA sur­vey, and pas­sively by mon­i­tor­ing at­ten­dance num­bers and GWWC pledges.

      We in­tend to set up a CRM to col­lect data on event at­ten­dees. As well as giv­ing us an in­di­ca­tion that this pro­ject is worth­while analysing this data should al­low us to look at how quickly and effec­tively differ­ent ways of rep­re­sent­ing EA and differ­ent kinds of events lead to differ­ent de­mo­graph­ics com­ing on board with EA ideas.
      To help con­firm the value of this pro­ject we will also do more work on mea­sur­ing and es­ti­mat­ing how much EA Lon­don might have grown any­way and the coun­ter­fac­tual effects of not fund­ing EA Lon­don.

      How did you es­ti­mate your im­pact to date?

      We car­ried out sur­veys of at­ten­dees at so­cial events. Our im­pact was largely es­ti­mated from the re­sults of sur­veys taken at events. This data and some anal­y­sis are available here.

      We pri­mar­ily looked at an­swers to the ques­tion “Do you think that these events, run by EA Lon­don, have caused an effect on any be­havi­ours you perform?” Where 1 is no effect and 4 is yes a big effect. Of 21 reg­u­lar at­ten­dees asked 2 said “3” and 4 said “4”. A sig­nifi­cant be­havi­our change means an­swer­ing 3 or 4 on the ques­tion. Please note that this is ask­ing if peo­ple have in the past changed their be­havi­our, we did not look at changes to plans or in­ten­tion to change be­havi­our.

      The es­ti­mated the num­ber of at­ten­dees over the course of a year and calcu­lated that about that 21.1 reg­u­lar at­ten­dees at so­cial events saw a sig­nifi­cant change in their be­havi­our. Rather than round­ing to 20 we rounded this up to 25 to ac­count for peo­ple who saw a sig­nifi­cant be­havi­our change as a re­sult of at­tend­ing the 80K work­shop which saw 9 change ca­reer plans.

      As the effects on peo­ple who only at­tended 1 or 2 so­cials or talks are largely un­mea­sured and un­ac­counted for. We there­fore sus­pect that the amount of sig­nifi­cant be­havi­our changes caused to be higher than 25. Hence our fi­nal es­ti­mate is 25+ sig­nifi­cant be­havi­our changes have hap­pened this year as a re­sult of EA Lon­don.

      How did you es­ti­mate the ex­pected re­turns?

      We con­sid­ered two differ­ent meth­ods of com­ing up with ex­pected re­turns:

      1. Calcu­lated based on ex­pe­rience of run­ning EA Lon­don so far

      2. Based on com­par­i­son of other similar projects

      Method 1 - on ex­pe­rience. Differ­ent peo­ple who had worked on EA Lon­don made a num­ber of differ­ent es­ti­mates of the ex­pected re­turn of in­vest­ing ad­di­tional time into EA Lon­don con­sid­er­ing var­i­ous differ­ent bits of data available. Th­ese es­ti­mates were then com­bined and a fi­nal es­ti­mate cre­ated. We 80-135 sig­nifi­cant be­havi­our changes which is roughly some­what over 100 sig­nifi­cant be­havi­our changes as a re­sult of fund­ing EA Lon­don for one year (af­ter sub­tract­ing the be­havi­our changes that would hap­pen any­way). The de­tails of how we calcu­lated this can be found here.

      Method 2 - com­par­i­son. In this case we con­sid­ered the rate of re­turn of GWWC and 80K, which seem to be the clos­est most rele­vant similar pro­jects. GWWC has got a pledge for just over £500 spent (and 80K has lead to a sig­nifi­cant ca­reer plan change for each £1,667 spent). We took a weighted av­er­age of how effec­tive these pro­jects are at caus­ing a be­havi­our change (see: p4 here). We then calcu­late that if we spent £30,000 on EA Lon­don and had a similar rate of re­turn we would have a coun­ter­fac­tual im­pact of roughly 45 sig­nifi­cant be­hav­ior changes. Ex­pect­ing pledges to be more likely this comes to 15 ca­reer changes and 30 pledges. Giv­ing a rea­son­able range to re­flect un­cer­tainty this be­comes 10-20 ca­reer changes and 20-40 pledges

      Con­clud­ing steps: Over­all, it is very promis­ing that our calcu­lated ex­pected im­pact gave similar but slightly higher re­sults than our refer­ence class com­par­i­son. It is plau­si­ble that our ex­pected im­pact lies some­where be­tween the two. Refer­ence class com­par­i­sons are thought to be much bet­ter than calcu­lated es­ti­mates. So in the end we went with the sec­ond method, but slightly raised the up­per bound of the es­ti­mates to re­flect the higher re­sults of method 1. This gives us the es­ti­mated re­turns of 10-30 ca­reer changes and 20-55 GWWC pledgees. The up­per bound here is roughly mid-way be­tween the up­per bound from Method 2 and the es­ti­mated re­turns of method 1.

      GWWC say that “for ev­ery $1 donated to Giv­ing What We Can over 2009-2013, $6 was donated to top char­i­ties”. As­sum­ing 23 of our im­pact is through en­courag­ing GWWC pledges and a similar ex­pected de­gree of effec­tive­ness then we would ex­pect to raise over £120,000 for top char­i­ties that would have not been donated any­way within the year. GWWC ex­pect that as pledges are a life­time com­mit­ment their ac­tual im­pact is ap­prox­i­mately 10x higher than that. (Source)
      Con­clud­ing thoughts: Th­ese es­ti­mates are highly ten­ta­tive and should be taken with a pinch of salt. We think it makes sense to con­sider the num­bers pre­sented as a modal av­er­age (the most likely ex­pect re­sult) as they are a best guess as to the most likely re­sults of this pro­ject. We think that there is a small chance that we will be many many times more effec­tive than this. We think that our ex­pected re­turns are there­fore sig­nifi­cantly higher than the num­bers es­ti­mated.

      We ex­pect that as well as these im­pacts there will be a sig­nifi­cant im­pacts though:

      • Knowl­edge gained through ex­per­i­ment­ing in move­ment build­ing.

      • Benefits and sup­port pro­vided to ex­ist­ing EAs. The group will help keep those already in­volved in poli­tics, earn­ing to give and other EA ac­tivi­ties in Lon­don con­nected to the EA com­mu­nity. The group will sup­port Lon­don EAs and get EAs net­work­ing with and helping one an­other.

      (Note: This sec­tion was ed­ited fol­low­ing feed­back)

      How much have you raised so far?

      A to­tal of how much has been donated can be found here.

      What func­tion will the over­sight com­mit­tee play?

      A func­tion of the over­sight com­mit­tee will be to act as a back­stop to en­sure that there are no prob­lems, (for ex­am­ple if Sam is un­able to work or is perform­ing poorly).

      Another func­tion of the over­sight com­mit­tee will be to provide men­tor­ing and sup­port to the staff mem­ber in spe­cific ar­eas. For ex­am­ple in mar­ket­ing, data col­lec­tion, move­ment build­ing, event man­age­ment, etc. If you or some­one you know has skills and a few years of ex­pe­rience in any of these ar­eas or other rele­vant ar­eas, and would be in­ter­ested in helping out, then please get in touch.

      I have feed­back on the plan.

      Get in touch email samueljhilton@gmail.com or com­ment be­low.