Hi Peter, just FYI, the Senate campaigns are now pretty much all getting a lot of money and also outpacing their Republican counterparts, so we’ve decided to demote Theresa Greenfield from our top-level recs. But if you still want to give to the Senate, I think David’s pooled fund is a good option. As I stated in the post, there’s likely not a ton of difference at this point between the most competitive races in terms of one being better/more important than another. Just avoid McGrath, Kelly, and Harrison as they have all the money they could ever use.
Interestingly, the “typical” volunteering opportunity is in fact worth more like $20/hr. You only get into that 10x range by using a very specific combination of techniques and targeting that we’re trying to incorporate into our textbanking recommendations. So I think this is partly an arbitrage opportunity due to the market not yet catching up to the research on a widespread basis.
The best volunteer opportunities we’ve seen in terms of cost-effectiveness cash out to the equivalent of about a $150-200/hr rate if you were going to donate that money to our top recommendations instead. So if you can earn more than that OR if you have spare money lying around OR if you can raise more than that easily from others, then donating/raising is a better use of your time. Otherwise, volunteering is great at this stage. As mentioned in the post, we’ll be rolling out a curated list/calendar of recommended & evidence-based textbanking events in the next few days, so watch this space.
Hi Peter, anyone who would like to learn more about the Working America program is welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive additional materials about it.
I’ll go ahead and say some positive things about Trump:
My overall impression is that his policy on China has been fairly effective at increasing pressure without leading to open hostilities. (I should note that I am in no way an expert on US-China relations though)
I think he’s been a good match for Kim Jong-Un and his handling of that relationship has probably gone better than we could have expected under Clinton.
I appreciate that he doesn’t appear to have any great appetite for armed conflict with other countries, although the Soleimani assassination was one glaring exception to that which could have turned out very differently.
I am genuinely impressed with his creativity, ability to think outside the box, and willingness to endure in the face of criticism.
See? Wasn’t that hard.
Thank you, Ben, that means a lot to me.
Thanks very much Aaron, I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. Re: “mind control,” that was intended to be an exaggeration for humorous effect, but I can see how it may reduce the credibility of the post for anyone who might be on the fence about these issues. So point taken and thank you.Before the original post was taken down, there was an example of an argument that EA’s effectiveness as a movement will be reduced by excessive partisanship. NunoSempere wrote, “I’ve briefly looked at the evolution of past social movements, and I don’t get the sense that doing this kind of thing leads to a social movement being very long lived. One of the long lived movements I’ve studied cultivated (though perhaps not consciously) the skill of having members on both sides of any political conflict. If I imagine EA being very long lived, which seems somewhat valuable, playing politics is not a thing I picture happening in that scenario. See also the intersection between politics and movement collapse scenarios”. I’ll leave it to Nuno to elaborate further if so desired.Your comments on the structure and positioning of the recommending organization seem reasonable to me, and yes, my assumption is that there should be a fairly high bar for propagating a recommendation.
All: I’ve noticed that this post is attracting a lot of strong downvotes. I care about this community and it’s important to me that my contributions to the forum be constructive. So I’m going to make those who downvoted an offer. If at least three of you either comment here or write me privately and say:
What concerns the post raised for you
What it would take to change your mind about those concerns
Then I will take the post down. In addition, if I find any of your arguments for why the post shouldn’t have been made compelling, I will take it down even if fewer than three people participate.
Larks, I have no idea what 2024 will bring, but I can assure you that I would not have made this pitch to the EA community over the 2012 election.
Thanks for responding. A few quick thoughts:
I agree with you on #2.
I agree with #1 as well, but think you’re conflating “unlikely” with “never.” It’s possible for cause areas to be high-profile and still be among the highest and best uses of one’s resources. That’s because neglectedness is only one of three considerations in the ITN framework, and a core (if implicit) premise of the post is that this particular election is both enormously important and highly tractable.
On #3, it sounds like you’re disputing the notion that EA and Trump are misaligned here but are reluctant to say why. I’m happy for you to message me privately about this if you prefer. I do note that in the 2019 EA Survey less than 1% of respondents identified as right-wing, which I take to be very strong evidence of the misalignment I mentioned, at least as perceived by rank-and-file community members.
Question for you (and others who have had skeptical reactions to this post): would you be comfortable with there being a formal process to determine when political engagement under the “EA brand” is appropriate/encouraged? For example, there could be a council of trusted movement leaders to make such determinations, like the group that decides when community members are banned (I can’t remember what they are called, sorry). Or there could be some kind of referendum system.
Wei, I feel that I addressed this in the final paragraph of the article. From my perspective, it’s pretty simple: EA values are EA values and partisan values are partisan values. So long as EA and partisan values happen to be in alignment, it’s both natural and desirable for there to be an alliance between them. So I agree with you on the notion of maintaining them as separate concepts, but I personally would like to see as much engagement in politics (not just in the US, but around the world) by/within EA as is warranted by the alignment I mentioned, no more or no less.To me, this feels completely straightforward and not threatening at all, so I am curious to understand better why it makes you uncomfortable. Is it that:
You don’t agree that EA should be involved in partisan politics even in cases when there is very strong alignment between the movement and one party/coalition or very strong misalignment with an opposing party/coalition?
You disagree with the premise that Trump’s leadership is very strongly misaligned with EA values?
I very much appreciate your willingness to explore this further.
Thanks, Ozzie! I agree with you that prioritization is both necessary and a way in which the EA community can add unique value. Compared to charitable donations, political giving seems to be a “flatter” market in that we haven’t found that many opportunities that are more than an order of magnitude more impactful than the “naive” benchmark of donating to the Biden campaign. For me at least, though, one important insight from this work has been confirmation that there are impactful things to do at all, which was not something I took for granted at the beginning. Personally, it’s been quite reassuring and motivating to know that there is a robust evidence base for different political engagement techniques that lends itself well to cost-effectiveness estimation and prioritization efforts.
As someone who is currently engaged in raising money for political causes, I think the impact of a project like this is likely to be low, but it may be worth pursuing anyway. While some of the reasons for a low ceiling have already been pointed out (difficulty with positioning/credibility, the natural friction of getting people to use a new platform), I think the main reason is that there are a lot of ways for donors to engage in the political process beyond simply donating directly to campaigns (e.g., by donating to Super PACs, nonprofits with a political mission, etc.), and if partisanship and polarization are sufficiently strong underlying motivators it will be easy for activists to circumvent this in search of an advantage for their candidate or cause. So I would suggest that a platform like this is more likely to work as intended if the underlying partisan temperature in the country is lowered considerably from where it has been over the past ~15 years. However, I could see the existence of a platform like this as a useful signaling mechanism in that effort even if it doesn’t end up actually raising all that much money. Anyway, those are my two cents.
Apologies that you had this experience, treesintheforest. I note that Protege BR has changed the email address that they’ve listed for contributions, and it’s now email@example.com. (Olabi is the social enterprise that runs Protege BR.) You could try writing there instead. Otherwise, OSMS should be a good backup option, although I don’t have any more up-to-date info on where their funding gaps are than what’s in the post.
I do think there is an excellent case to be made that preventing the re-election of Trump is strongly aligned with effective altruist priorities. I suspect there are more cost-effective ways of pursuing that objective than the Biden campaign itself, however. I am in the process of setting up a donor circle to explore these issues as a group; if you’re interested in joining, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
On the basis of our criteria, yes. Depending on a donor’s personal priorities and preferences, that could look different of course. E.g., for annual donors to these organizations, I think there is a strong case to keep giving.
Hi HStencil, we were able to look at all of these as part of the latest update! None besides DMI made into the main post, but we did write up Oxfam and PSI in our big spreadsheet and intend to monitor them going forward.
Hi all, as promised, we’ve been monitoring the situation over the past couple of weeks and continuing to learn more about the original charities we investigated as well as new ones that have since come to our attention. We just published an update to this post and have two new top-recommended charities, COVID-END and Open Source Medical Supplies! In addition, we’ve added Development Media International (previously listed as Top), IDinsight, Rapid Reviews COVID-19, and the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund as promising opportunities, and wrote up reviews for the above charities plus Medical Credit Fund, ONE Campaign, Oxfam, Population Services International, and Give2Asia in our full database of opportunities.
Our group has now distributed almost $120,000 to these charities and an additional $200,000+ has been pledged. Thanks to many of you in the comments who suggested charities for us to review and otherwise added to our understanding of what’s going on. We hope these updates prove useful to those still considering donations or other ways to help.