Hi Alex—these are very good points and largely correct, I think—thanks for contributing them. I’ve added some thoughts and mitigations below:
Yes, we definitely do anchor around poverty. I think this can be good ‘scaffolding’ to come into the movement; but sometimes it will anchor people there. It is worth noting, though, that global health and poverty is consistently the most popular cause area in the EA survey, so there are clearly other factors anchoring to this cause area—it’s hard to say how much OFTW counterfactually increases this effect (and whether it counterfactually stops people from progressing beyond global health and poverty). In terms of mitigation for competing with GWWC—we are in close touch with them and both sides are working hard to foster collaboration and avoid competition.
On point 2, our experience so far is that OFTW and EA groups actually coexist very well. I think (without any systematic evidence) some of this may because a lot of EA groups don’t prioritise donations, preferring to focus on things like career advice, and so OFTW chapters can sort of ‘own’ the donation space; sometimes, though, they just find a way to work alongside each other. I’m not sure it follows that we have to ‘compete for altruistically motivated people’ - in fact, I don’t really see any reason why someone couldn’t take the OFTW pledge and then carry on engaging with EA uninterrupted—but I agree that we could compete on this front. A lot seems to depend on OFTW’s approach/message/ask. Maybe a virtue of OFTW is that we really only need people’s attention for a short period to get them to take one action—so we aren’t competing for their sustained attention, in a way that would crowd out EA programming. Indeed, we can actually be a funnel to get them to pay attention to this content—see for example our recent webinar with Toby Ord on x-risk, which attracted ~200 people, many of whom came from OFTW chapters.
Yes, fair. I’d just bear in mind, though, how many EAs were introduced via global health and poverty (again, see the EA survey for how many people came in via poverty-focussed writing from Peter Singer or Will MacAskill) and did ultimately develop/broaden/change their thinking, so again I’m not sure how much counterfactual anchoring there is from OFTW.
I haven’t watched this yet but will shortly—from your brief precis above, this criticism looks like it might apply equally to any pledge/donation org that support health and poverty causes (GWWC, Founder’s Pledge, GiveWell, EA Funds etc.).
This is absolutely true—I actually think it’s a strength of OFTW, as it happens. The reason I don’t worry overly about anchoring people at 1%/distracting from other cause areas is that I actually think most OFTW pledgers were never good candidates to be super engaged with EA in the first place—but those that are end up getting into EA anyway, and we can be a useful first point of contact to make that happen. To be fully transparent, this is basically all from anecdata, but I have met very, very few OFTW pledgers who I (subjectively) think were ever likely to be a GWWC pledger/dedicate their career to AI research. In a perfect world, we would hoover up all the ‘well I might give 1% but I really wouldn’t give 10%’ crowd and not stop any of the ‘I might give 10%/change my career’ crowd. One project to support this is to give more GWWC and other EA content to our members, so that those who were predisposed to give 10% end up doing it anyway (which has happened for a subset of OFTW members in the past, certainly).