Announcing new EA Funds management teams

As dis­cussed in the EA Funds up­date post in Au­gust, CEA has been spend­ing time over the last quar­ter cre­at­ing a new man­age­ment struc­ture for sev­eral of the EA Funds. We are pleased to have con­cluded the pro­cess and to an­nounce new man­age­ment teams for the EA Com­mu­nity Fund (now re­named the EA Meta Fund) and the Long-Term Fu­ture Fund, as well as the ad­di­tion of an ex­pert team to the man­age­ment of the An­i­mal Welfare Fund (which con­tinues to be chaired by Lewis Bol­lard).

Why teams?

We be­lieve that in­volv­ing a larger num­ber of in­di­vi­d­u­als in the man­age­ment of the funds will have a num­ber of benefits:

  1. It should re­sult in a larger amount of to­tal effort go­ing into the sourc­ing, vet­ting and de­ci­sion mak­ing for each grant made, which is ex­pected to in­crease the qual­ity and range of grants.

  2. It should in­crease the ca­pac­ity available for pub­lish­ing more de­tailed grant write-ups and other sup­port­ing con­tent.

  3. The di­ver­sity of per­spec­tives rep­re­sented in fund­ing de­ci­sions should in­crease, as well as the to­tal cov­er­age of the per­sonal net­works of the grant mak­ers, al­low­ing grant sourc­ing to go wider and deeper into the com­mu­nity than with a sin­gle fund man­ager.

  4. It is an op­por­tu­nity for more in­di­vi­d­u­als to de­velop grant­mak­ing ex­pe­rience, thus grow­ing the num­ber of peo­ple with this skil­lset available to the com­mu­nity.

New Fund Man­age­ment Teams:

EA Meta Fund (formerly EA Com­mu­nity Fund)

Chair: Luke Ding

Team: Denise Melchin, Matt Wage, Alex Foster, Tara MacAulay

Ad­vi­sor: Nick Beckstead

The new man­age­ment team for this fund have de­cided to re­name the fund to bet­ter re­flect the kind of grants they en­vi­sion mak­ing. This is not a sub­stan­tial change from how the fund has been run pre­vi­ously, but one change of scope is that the fund is un­likely to make fur­ther grants to lo­cal groups. The EA Com­mu­nity Build­ing Grants pro­ject, run by CEA, fo­cuses ex­clu­sively on fund­ing lo­cal groups, and this fund does not ex­pect to be grant­ing to that space. In­stead, the fund ex­pects to sup­port pro­jects that are broadly referred to as ‘meta’ ini­ti­a­tives in the EA com­mu­nity, as well as to groups re­search­ing pri­or­ity cause ar­eas. The fund has his­tor­i­cally granted most of its money to these types of or­ga­ni­za­tions and has pre­vi­ously made one grant to a lo­cal group.

The fund man­agers ex­pect to write grants to a rel­a­tively broad range of or­ga­ni­za­tions in terms of ma­tu­rity, speci­fi­cally plan­ning to make some grants to new pro­jects. In this way, there may be some over­lap in scope with EA Grants, which is also run by CEA.

The fund will be chaired by Luke Ding, one of the first ma­jor donors from the early days of effec­tive al­tru­ism. He has spent 50% of his time on EA-re­lated philan­thropy over the past 7 years and has donated mil­lions of dol­lars to EA or­ga­ni­za­tions dur­ing this time. Luke’s early dona­tions played an im­por­tant role in the rapid growth of the Cen­tre for Effec­tive Altru­ism, 80,000 Hours and Founders Pledge.

Nick Beck­stead has agreed to stay on in an ad­vi­sory ca­pac­ity, pro­vid­ing con­ti­nu­ity to donors and the benefit of his ex­per­tise to the new team.

Read more and see bios for the new team on the EA Meta Fund page at EA Funds.

Long-Term Fu­ture Fund

Chair: Matt Fallshaw

Team: He­len Toner, Oliver Habryka, Matt Wage, Alex Zhu

Ad­vi­sors: Nick Beck­stead, Jonas Vollmer

The fund will be chaired by Matt Fal­lshaw, cofounder of Bel­lroy and founder of Trike Apps. Matt has been in­volved in grow­ing the EA move­ment since 2012, helping de­velop and host the origi­nal LessWrong and EA Fo­rum web­sites, pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar ad­vice on or­ga­ni­za­tional man­age­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion to EA teams, sup­port­ing the growth of or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing CEA, CFAR, and MIRI, and se­cur­ing some of the early sup­port for other EA pro­jects. Matt cur­rently splits his time be­tween MIRI in Berkeley and his home in Melbourne, Aus­tralia.

The fund man­agers will con­sider grants to any causes fo­cused on im­prov­ing the long term fu­ture, but ex­pect to favour ac­tivi­ties such as re­search into pos­si­ble ex­is­ten­tial risks and their miti­ga­tion, and es­pe­cially work aimed at en­sur­ing that ad­vanced ar­tifi­cial in­tel­li­gence sys­tems are ro­bust and benefi­cial.

Nick Beck­stead has agreed to stay on in an ad­vi­sory ca­pac­ity for this fund also, and is joined by Jonas Vol­lmer from the EA Foun­da­tion in pro­vid­ing fur­ther ex­per­tise to the team.

Read more and see bios for the new team on the Long-Term Fu­ture Fund page at EA Funds.

An­i­mal Welfare Fund

Chair: Lewis Bollard

Team: Jamie Spur­geon, Natalie Cargill, Toni Adleberg

Lewis has opted to use this op­por­tu­nity to take on an ex­pert team to as­sist with the man­age­ment of this fund. He sees three pri­mary benefits to this for the fund’s op­er­a­tion. First, the fund will now draw on a wider range of views and ex­per­tise from the an­i­mal welfare space, which is es­pe­cially im­por­tant given the dom­i­nant role that Open Philan­thropy Pro­ject already plays in the space. Se­cond, the fund will now draw on a deeper re­source of time and ex­pe­rience, which will hope­fully help iden­tify more unique grant op­por­tu­ni­ties. Third, the fund will now have the ca­pac­ity to bet­ter mon­i­tor the im­pact of grants to date, which will hope­fully re­sult in more learn­ing for the fund man­agers and les­sons that can be shared with the EA com­mu­nity.

The fo­cus will re­main on iden­ti­fy­ing the most cost-effec­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­duce an­i­mal suffer­ing over the long run. Th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties will likely con­tinue to mostly fo­cus on fac­tory farm­ing, but may also sup­port work on an­i­mal ethics, wild an­i­mal suffer­ing, an­i­mal cog­ni­tion, move­ment build­ing, or other re­lated fields.

Read more and see bios for the new team on the An­i­mal Welfare Fund page at EA Funds

Global Devel­op­ment Fund

The Global Devel­op­ment Fund, man­aged by Elie Hassen­feld, will con­tinue to op­er­ate with Elie as the sole man­ager, and will serve as some­thing of a con­trol group to the changes we are mak­ing on the other three funds. Should the team-man­aged funds ex­per­i­ment prove to be suc­cess­ful, Elie will con­sider putting to­gether a team to work with him on man­ag­ing this fund from some time in mid-2019.

How we ex­pect this to work

First of all, we ought to note that we see these changes as cur­rently be­ing in a pi­lot pe­riod. Our best guess is that these changes will im­prove the EA Funds plat­form and pro­duce good re­sults, in­clud­ing in­creased donor satis­fac­tion and dona­tion effec­tive­ness, how­ever we will be ready to ad­just any as­pects which do not work as ex­pected as we move for­ward.

New grant­ing schedule

All of the funds will now move onto a fixed grant­ing sched­ule, recom­mend­ing and pay­ing out grants three times per year—in Novem­ber, Fe­bru­ary and June. The ex­cep­tion will be the Global Devel­op­ment Fund which will fol­low a sched­ule of grant­ing in De­cem­ber, March and July—in or­der to be synched with when GiveWell de­cides on and grants their dis­cre­tionary funds.

We will re­visit the ques­tion of whether this grant­ing sched­ule is op­ti­mal af­ter the June/​July 2019 round of grants. We do not ex­pect to re­duce it to lower than twice a year af­ter that, and ex­pect to main­tain this ca­dence un­less it be­comes clear dur­ing the pi­lot that it is sub-op­ti­mal.

Col­lec­tive De­ci­sion Mak­ing Mechanisms

Teams failing to agree on which grants to make or fal­ling into sub-op­ti­mal group dy­nam­ics is plau­si­bly the largest risk to this ap­proach, there­fore each of the teams has been think­ing about how best to for­mal­ise their col­lec­tive de­ci­sion mak­ing pro­cess, to min­imise any such risks.

Each of the groups has set­tled on a slightly differ­ent ap­proach, and this is an­other as­pect which is part of the ex­per­i­men­tal na­ture of this new ap­proach to fund man­age­ment. As part of the broader re­view af­ter the June 2019 set of grants, we will work with the teams to see if any of the ap­proaches pi­loted in this pe­riod seem to have performed bet­ter or worse, and if there is a clear win­ner we may wish to stan­dard­ise the pro­cess and have all teams adopt that ap­proach.

Fans of ap­proval vot­ing will be pleased to hear that the An­i­mal Welfare and Long-Term Fu­ture teams are con­sid­er­ing util­is­ing this in their pro­cesses.

How to find out more and de­cide if you want to donate to the funds

Each of the Funds’ pages have been up­dated to re­flect the new man­age­ment teams, so please read through those for more in­for­ma­tion spe­cific to each Fund. ( Long-Term Fu­ture /​ An­i­mal Welfare /​ EA Meta )

The new teams will be mak­ing their first set of grant recom­men­da­tions in Novem­ber and pub­lish­ing their rea­son­ing to their re­spec­tive Fund’s page—this will al­low donors to get fur­ther data on what kinds of grants each group is likely to make and how they rea­son about the grant mak­ing pro­cess, so that donors can take this in­for­ma­tion into ac­count when mak­ing their de­ci­sions dur­ing giv­ing sea­son.

Fur­ther­more, each of the new man­age­ment teams will also be do­ing an AMA on the EA Fo­rum be­fore mid-De­cem­ber; the ex­act dates for these will be an­nounced in the com­ing weeks.

Fi­nally, for those at­tend­ing EA Global Lon­don this week­end, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the EA Meta Fund and An­i­mal Welfare Fund man­age­ment teams, as well as CEA, will be available to an­swer ques­tions dur­ing an ‘office hours’ ses­sion on Sun­day at 1:30pm.

Hope­fully you’re as ex­cited as we are about this new phase for EA Funds! We hope these changes will make it an over­all bet­ter dona­tion plat­form for the com­mu­nity, and in­crease the effec­tive­ness of the av­er­age dona­tion.