Executive director at Giving What We Can and board member Effective Altruism Australia
Largely yes. That’s why I said I’m disappointed with this framing (not just in this post but in other contexts where this is happening).
Almost everything you can imagine (other than organisations who’ve a very specific focus):
Any given day top posts on the EA Forum range across various worldviews and cause areas
Any given day the amount of funding going through GWWC ranges across various worldviews and cause areas
Answers to cause priorities on the EA Survey
A quick straw poll of any broad EA event
Topics covered in EA groups and fellowships
The contrary is much harder to prove.
I think that this is a far too binary way of representing EA.
EA has been a “big tent” and a complex ecosystem for a long time – and that is good!
However, I am disappointed with it being framed as a shift, or as a binary, or with any particular feature of a part of EA being seen “as EA”.
“EA” isn’t talent constrained, but many causes and projects within EA are (so that on net the community is talent constrained).
“EA” isn’t flush with talent, but many roles within EA can be very competitive (so that on net it’d often be worth applying for any suitable role, but also most people won’t get roles after applying for a while).
“EA” isn’t funding constrained, but many causes and projects within EA are (so that on net the community is funding constrained).
“EA” isn’t flush with cash, but some projects have easier access to funding than they used to (e.g. GiveWell’s research team, top AI safety researchers, some new high-EV projects within longtermism who have strong founding teams and a solid idea).
“EA” isn’t longtermist, but many people, causes and projects within EA are (so that longtermism makes up a ~plurality of job opportunities, a ~plurality of new projects, and a significant segment of funding).
“EA” isn’t neartermist, but many people, causes and projects within EA are (so that neartermism makes up a ~majority of current funding, ~majority of broad base EAs & individual donors to EA causes).
“EA” isn’t vegan, but many people, causes and projects within EA take animal lives into serious consideration (such that a norm within EA has been to default to catering vegan).
“EA” isn’t political, but many people, causes and projects take the impact of politics seriously (such that most people consider their politics as a meaningful consideration for their impact on the world).
The balance and distributions of these features moves within the community over time, but “EA” is the project of trying to figure out how to do more good and to act on what we find.
Great question! We’re working on finalising this post-merger and having a page on the website again. But in the meantime you can use this:
(Note: there is a bug on the recurrence reporting right now which marks many recurring donations as one-off)
Thanks for writing this post. I think this would be very good to have as a required reading for fellowship programs.
Nice! Similarly you could look at comments and posts on the EA forum.
You can measure various different churn rates wherever they make sense and measure the average increase/decrease in churn (is churn rising, falling, staying the same).
I’d add sentiment analysis on public social media (twitter is pretty easy for this) for a few key terms, accounts, and hashtags.
Thanks for publishing the acceptance rate! I think that’s useful information to share.
I just want to give a huge round of applause to the Non-trivial team! So great to see this resource! I’m very keen to see this reach the next generation of critical thinking do-gooders!
I also want to chime in here and say that it was a bit of a shock for me coming into the EA community also: I was one of the more analytical people in most of my friendship groups, yet it was pretty quickly clear to me that my comparative advantage in this community was actually EQ, communications, and management. I’m glad to work with some incredibly smart analytical people who are kind enough to (a) help me understand things that confuse me when I’m frank about what I don’t understand; and (b) remind me what else I bring to the table.
Let me know if you decide to go ahead with the idea and I’ll see how I can help 😀
Thanks for sharing your perspective here Jeffrey!
[Note: I wasn’t involved in the decisions around the wording of The Pledge so am speaking from my personal perspective as a member of The Pledge, and as a staff member at GWWC who has spoken with many members and prospective members.]
I agree that there is a downside to having ambiguity around the technicality of GWWC pledges. There are members who, from my perspective, I think they take it too loosely and others who take it too seriously.
However, the level of specificity is a very difficult tradeoff to make when making a short standardised simple language moral commitment for a large and diverse group of people with different backgrounds, contexts, and levels of scrupulosity.
If GWWC were to try to precisely state everything in the pledge language then it’d be less of a moral commitment and more of a legal contract – it certainly wouldn’t fit on a pledge certificate. We’d certainly miss many circumstances and getting agreement from members who’ve already taken a pledge to be backwards compatible would be very difficult.
Furthermore, I think an overly legalistic pledge would make it harder for most people to make (it’d be too scary/confusing) and keep their commitments. I think that trusting people to use their conscience (while providing guidance like is done in the FAQ and in member conversations) is a feature not a bug.
if I agreed to a pledge like this, I’d need to carefully specify the conditions under which I’d allow myself to exit this pledge or not, since it’s not nearly clear enough to me in its current wording.…I want to be a person of unusual honesty and integrity, and so I want to think about what commitments mean to me and how I can structure my environment to help me make good ones and keep them.
if I agreed to a pledge like this, I’d need to carefully specify the conditions under which I’d allow myself to exit this pledge or not, since it’s not nearly clear enough to me in its current wording.
I want to be a person of unusual honesty and integrity, and so I want to think about what commitments mean to me and how I can structure my environment to help me make good ones and keep them.
I’m glad that you have self-knowledge to know that you’d like to have more specificity. Many people who’ve taken a pledge have also gone further in specifying things that they think are important to their commitment (such as under what specific conditions they would resign from their pledge) and sometimes write up a document (or blog post) and share it with several close friends they want to hold them accountable. If someone were considering a pledge and had these strong preferences around specificity then I’d encourage this route.
I think it’s great that the pledge now asks you to specify a starting and end time and particular percentage by default. (Previously, it read “until I retire”).
Actually, this depends on whether you are taking a Trial Pledge (which requires a specific amount and period) or The GWWC Pledge (which is still a 10% pledge of lifetime earnings, “until I retire”).
I think it’s quite bad that the main text of the pledge doesn’t include any mention of an exit clause.
This is where it is quite similar to marriage and I’d argue that’s generally a good thing. Of course there are reasons that marriages end, but they’re variable and relevant to the individual people. If you look at the reasons marriages end sometimes people could work through those things and other times it’s best it ends. I wouldn’t include something like “infidelity” or “poor communication” as an exit clause within my wedding vows, but I can imagine both cases where the marriage would survive the common reasons people end marriages and also other cases where it’d be best to end it for some of those reasons (in good conscience). That being said, I’m all for people customising their vows (me and my wife did!) but still generally committing to the same thing as other married folk (put a damn good effort into sticking with the person for the rest of your lives until it’s clear it’s no longer a good thing for you to do). The same can be said for giving pledges: you can generally commit to the same thing, but also customise to what makes sense to you (e.g. write up a separate document also).
Hope that helps to provide an alternative perspective and is useful to hear a bit of the reasoning behind why things might be the way they are right now, and why I’m not currently in favour of any major changes to the pledge language to include an exit clause.
GWWC is also currently in the process of updating our new FAQs and would love any input here.
Giving What We Can’s mission is to make giving effectively and significantly a cultural norm. If you think that any changes (e.g. to the FAQ, pledges language, or ways of communicating these ideas) would help us better achieve that mission then we’d be especially grateful to hear those suggestions.
+1 to the comment here about humour. I’m someone who loves a good laugh and has a pretty dry sense of humour but am particularly wary about it when talking about money and suffering (I’ve seen it go pretty badly in several EA or EA-adjacent contexts).
It’s also very important to think about humour in non-EA social contexts where there are a lot of people within the EA community alongside those who aren’t. Someones first exposure to the community might be somewhere like an informal party and first impressions really count.
Thank you so much for writing this up! I particularly like the tangible examples and even exact wordings that make it easier for other organisers e.g.
Your suggested language for conference funding (“we don’t want financial barriers to prohibit...attend the conference only if you want...”).
Your heuristics that you use to determine how you spend money for Brown EA.
Your answers to FAQs about funding situation
In terms of promoting effective giving, I recommend university group leaders look at the guide for promoting effective giving, effective giving event guides and please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want help (such as connecting you with local people who are a few years ahead and can talk about their experience, giving a talk or providing sponsorship for giving games etc).
Thank you for such a detailed and transparent post! It’s really exciting to see experimentation in funding models as Future Fund enters the ecosystem. (It’s also great to see a bunch of promising things getting the resources they need!)
I’ve found that the project ideas, areas of interest and grants/regrants databases are also especially useful resources in helping people to think about how they might best contribute! I’ve shared these multiple times when speaking with very promising people who are relatively cause neutral and just want to do as much good as they can given their specific skills & context.
FWIW: GiveWell actually already had some opportunities in the pipeline that they were still working on (e.g. Dispensers for Safe Water). Given the funding needs of their top charities right now it’s looking very likely they’ll have more room for funding than they can fill this year (unless there’s unprecedented growth which seems unlikely given current projected economic conditions). At the GiveDirectly bar of funding (10%-30% as cost effective) there’s nowhere near enough funding for the foreseeable future.