Thanks for clarifying Ben!
Thanks Aaron, very helpful data and context.
Vipul wrote up observations on Forum traffic from Sep 14-Dec 16, which seems to be based on data from Google Analytics. Any way to splice this data together with the more recent history?
Re: non-paid traffic, it should be very easy (a few minutes) to pull traffic data ex-adwords for any sites that are set up on Google Analytics. Excluding other types of paid traffic/conversions (e.g. newsletter signups driven by FB ads) would be harder (though generally doable).
One thing I really ought to have included but for some reason didn’t think to is also total OpenPhil grants (not just to GiveWell or excluding GiveWell) as this may also capture some of the growth in the broader EA space.
Agree OpenPhil grants would be a helpful perspective on this, both total grants and grants within their EA focus area (which would be a proxy for meta investment)
[EA Forum traffic] data for 2017 and after is available but I am told that it would take too long to collect, so in the interest of publishing this post in a remotely timely manner, I will save collecting this data to next year.
I’m very surprised that pulling this data is non-trivial; I would have guessed it would take <5 minutes to get from Google Analytics. Is the EA Forum still set up on Google Analytics (which is where the pre-2017 data came from)? If not, why not, and how do those managing the platform measure usage and engagement?
FYI, GiveWell’s money moved in 2018 ex Good Ventures was ~$65 million, which makes the donation numbers look somewhat better.
Great work Peter, thanks so much for doing this! Super helpful to be able to see all these numbers aggregated in the same place. And I love the categorization of the metrics. Strong upvote.
A couple of thoughts on metrics to include next year:
· I agree with Michelle’s comment that traffic for EA.org is an important metric to look at, especially since that’s the top result when people google EA. I’d be interested in both organic search web traffic, and overall traffic (ex paid traffic).
· In general, I think it’s most helpful to look at numbers excluding paid traffic to give a better sense of organic growth rates. As Aaron notes, this helps explain the EA newsletter trajectory, and it’d be interesting to see how excluding paid traffic might affect the 80k traffic numbers as well.
· Total operational spending by EA orgs could be a helpful perspective on how inputs to EA are changing over time; the current metrics are all focused on outputs, and it would be nice to relate the two.
Copying something I wrote in response to a similar question about OFTW:
FWIW, I don’t think [the average giving level] is a great reference point. The 2015 Money for Good study found a median gift of ~.4% of income in their sample (which overweighted high income households), and 1% giving would be something like to top quintile. So getting young people to (initially) donate 1% to effective causes seems like an excellent win.
(I work at TLYCS, OFTW’s fiscal sponsor).
You may want to consider another cheaper and easier way to test a book giveaway, that will have some built in measurement/follow-up processes. As I mentioned on another thread, there’s going to be
an updated 10th anniversary edition of The Life You Can Save coming out in Q4. There will be updated numbers and examples, two new forewords, and increased emphasis on specific calls to action meant for a broad audience (e.g. initially asking people to make a recurring donation vs. a substantial pledge).
The price is also right, as we’ll be able to distribute free copies of the e-book (which will have links so people can take action more easily) and audiobook. The audiobook will have chapters read by celebrity narrators; this isn’t the time or place to list people involved in the project, but they’ll be a great credibility boost.
A lot of EA origin stories start with the first version of TLYCS. We’re about to have a chance to distribute a new and improved version to a much wider audience, and we hope the EA community will help spread it far and wide.
(I work for TLYCS the nonprofit, which is producing and promoting TLYCS the book.)
If you’re interested in helping distribute free copies, please let me know!
Updating DGB is probably doable and possibly worthwhile even after adjusting for opportunity costs. But I don’t see that as a sustainable long-term way of offering high quality and up to date introductory content. It just buys you some time, and then you’re back where you started. There’s too much work involved in a re-write for that to be feasible as an ongoing way to keep info up to date.
Over the long-term, I think introductory content needs to be packaged in a structure that’s more modular and flexible, e.g. something like the EA Handbook (though I share many of the concerns that were raised about the specific content chosen for the current iteration).
There have been lots of great comments about the EA labor market, thanks to everyone who has been engaging in this discussion! I’m going to be away from internet service for about a week, but once I’m back I’ll respond to discussion that’s happened in the interim. Thanks!
Thanks Howie. Good catch on the rent vs. own distinction, agree renting is the right reference point for junior hires. Seems like for the highest paying EA orgs, there may not be a wage gap for junior roles relative to comparable nonprofits (which I find pleasantly surprising), through presumably there’s still a large gap relative to the private sector.
Big picture, I still think EA salaries (adjusted for cost of living) are still low enough that there will be talent shortages, especially for more senior roles. It doesn’t help that many EA jobs and a very disproportionate number of the highest paying ones are located in extremely high cost of living locations. Even if SF is “only” 20% more expensive than DC (and for senior roles I’d argue for a higher adjustment), DC is an expensive city too.
Anecdotally, I moved from SF ~5 years ago and cost of living was a major factor (but not the only). My wife and I have estimated that roughly our Bay Area friends have moved elsewhere or plan to soon, and cost of living is almost always a huge factor. I heard a while back that the cost of renting a U-Haul was something like 3x higher to go from SF to Salt Lake City(?) than the reverse trip because way more people want to move out of the Bay than want to move to it. Against that backdrop, I don’t think paying what comparable non-profits do is going to be sufficient to attract the talent pool we want. There are a lot of important EA orgs in the Bay, and I’d like them to be able to hire out of the pool of people who want to buy a house and aren’t independently wealthy.
FYI, I noticed that page also had some outdated info on TLYCS that only went through 2016. You can find updated numbers/charts in TLYCS’s 2018 annual report.
Using one industry I personally happen to know well as a comparison, I think entry level salaries for research analysts at these organisations tend to be equal to or higher than salaries for economics research assistants at places like the Federal Reserve or top think tanks in DC.
Does this account for cost-of-living differences? It costs ~75% more to live in SF than DC…
Thanks for clearing that up and updating the website!
At the most competitive EA orgs, entry level salaries in high-cost-of-living areas now typically range from ~$50k to ~$80k. The most competitive positions at those orgs typically pay at the high end of that range. That said, pay may vary outside of that range for specific positions and at other EA organisations. I’ll update the page to clarify later today.
My sense is there’s quite a big gap between pay at a handful of “the most competitive EA orgs” and other EA orgs, and that there’s quite a lot of variation across orgs, causes, geographies, etc. Does 80K have a good handle on the size of these differences and/or would it be open getting more information via the annual talent survey as suggested in OP? (I’m glad to see 80K is open to adding questions to this survey, but as I mentioned elsewhere I think there are serious problems with the new question 80K has proposed.)
Well put Gregory, you nicely captured a lot of concerns I have about the “pay by (reported) necessity” model.
As readers of the OP can probably guess, I think 80K is dramatically overstating the earning power of working at an EA organization by ranking it 3⁄5 stars.
Starting salaries in the US tend to be about $50k and in the UK salaries start on around £25k. We think that these salaries are roughly what you need to be happy, but compared with jobs in the private sector, it is harder to build up a savings buffer to withstand financial difficulties, and to make career transitions which require retraining. It can also be more difficult for people with children. That said, the organisations are often willing to pay more to get the right staff, especially if you have specific skills, like web engineering. Many are also happy to pay more to people who have dependents or student debts. At more senior levels, salaries range from $60,000 – $180,000 in the US.
This analysis doesn’t capture the fact that EA jobs (especially the best paying ones) are often in very high cost of living locations. In the Bay Area $50k to start doesn’t go very far, and $180k isn’t much of an upside for someone senior (especially if they have kids, debt, etc).
[Raising wages across the board] would cause all kinds of problems. It would worsen the already latent center/periphery divide in EA by increasing inequality, it would make it harder for new organisations to compete, it would reduce the net amount of people that we can employ, etc etc.
But I could be wrong, and I sense that some of my thoughts might be ideologically tainted. If you feel the urge to point me at some econ 101, please do.
I think you’re right that these problems in would occur if a handful of orgs with the most money started raising salaries across the board in the current environment. But a commenter on FB summed up my econ 101 read on this perfectly (to reiterate I’m not an economist): “If the community can’t afford market rates maybe it’s time to start admitting that the community is funding constrained.”
I’m arguing for point A.
I’m not arguing against the idea that some people exist that should be given the $150k that is needed to unlock their talents. I’m arguing that this group of people might be very small, and concentrated in your bubble.
I think that’s the crux of the argument. If a majority of senior people needed $150k to get by, I’d agree that that should be the wage you offer. If these people make up just 1% of the population (which seems true to me), offering $150k to everyone else is just going to cause a lot of subtle cultural damage.
Very well put. Agree this is the crux of our disagreement; my intuition is that there’s a much larger pool of people who would be enticed by the higher pay.
Using NYC as an (admittedly US-centric and high cost of living) example, the average cost of private school is ~$18k/year, and many of the good ones are around $50k. So if you think of a couple that wants to have a couple of kids, doesn’t want to send them to a bad (possibly dangerous) public school, and would like to put those kids through college, it’s unlikely those people would even consider non-profit work unless they had unusual circumstances that would allow them to do so (e.g. one partner with particularly high earning power, a trust-fund, etc.)