Co-founder / Head of Tech, Effective Altruism Funds
The Centre for Effective Altruism UK (the legal entity behind EA Funds’ UK operations) is registered in the Netherlands as a tax-deductible charity.
When you get to the payment page you can select which country you’d like to donate in. To donate in a way that’s tax-deductible in the Netherlands, select ‘UK/NL’ as your country, and then optionally select EUR as your currency code. You can donate via credit card or SEPA transfer.
ETA: I’ve updated the relevant FAQ entry to make this clearer.
Yeah, I think ‘never’ is correct for donor lottery winners thus far. I’d guess this situation would be pretty rare in practice (even as we run more lotteries), but we want people to be informed that there are some constraints. People have generally checked in with us beforehand if they’ve got something of an edge-case in mind, and the only times I can remember saying a hard ‘no’ were for partisan political organisations (which we can’t make grants to).
Yeah, I think the case of people not wanting to donate to EA Funds because of social/community dynamics (even if they think, on reflection, that they can’t outperform EA Funds) is an interesting one. I guess that if someone is unsure if they can beat EA Funds (or some other ‘boring’/deferent option) but that they feel like they’d be subject to social pressure to do something different regardless, that they could always enter anonymously (this doesn’t solve the problem of people wanting to prove to themselves that they’re good grantmakers, but hopefully goes some way to mitigating the issue).
We’re also trying to provide good support to winners, in the form of contact with experienced grantmakers (including members from each of the EA Funds). So, to the extent that this enables winners to ‘import’ that experience into their decision, while still being able to cast a wider net, it means that even less-confident donors will still be able to remain competitive with alternatives.
Thanks for the question! There are two separate things here, which I’ll address separately.
Adding PayPal as a regular payment option to EA Funds that you can select when you’re on the website making a donation (which would attract transaction fees)
Using the PayPal Giving Fund (which is fee-free) to donate to EA Funds
PayPal as a regular payment option
We’ve considered adding PayPal support, but it hasn’t been a priority as we’ve found most donors are able to use one of our other payment methods (e.g. credit cart/bank transfer/check). Adding new payment methods adds some complexity to our payment processing operations (which we try to keep as streamlined as possible to reduce admin overhead), and given that most people use PayPal to process credit card donations, we haven’t seen it as offering a significant advantage over our existing credit card payment infrastructure. However, it’s useful to know that PayPal is your only option, and is some data in favour of us considering adding it. This likely won’t be for a while though, but if we do get to it I’ll post an update as a comment on this question.
Using the PayPal Giving Fund
Unfortunately it’s not possible to automate donations made through the PayPal Giving Fund, which means it’s not viable for us to offer it as a payment option at checkout. Donations to the Giving Fund have to be made through PayPal’s own website, which means we can’t capture each donor’s allocation, and therefore all the money appears as if it’s just going to the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA –the non-profit that EA Funds is a part of). This unfortunately just isn’t scalable to hundreds of donors.
For larger donations ($1000+ or equivalent), you can use the PayPal Giving Fund to make a donation to CEA, but you’ll need to email us so that we can manually add your donation to EA Funds and allocate it accordingly. If this fits your situation, you can make a donation using one of the links below, then forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your preferred allocation (you can see the available organizations to donate to on this page)
CEA @ PayPal Giving Fund (US donors)
CEA @ PayPal Giving Fund (UK and NL donors)
I think that for most donors this can be disregarded. Even if the marginal use of your additional tax dollars is still pretty good (e.g. 10% as valuable as your best charitable option), you’re still better off donating to the charity. In extremis, it would imply that your best marginal donation option would be to voluntarily pay more tax, rather than donate. While it seems in theory possible that the marginal dollar that your government spends is more effective than your best charitable donation option, I’d guess that in practice this is almost never the case, largely just because Your Dollar Goes Further Overseas, but also because your contribution to government revenue will be diffused between the many hundreds of programs that the government runs (some of which may be positive, like preventive health or basic research, others which may be pretty harmful, e.g. subsidies for industrial agriculture or maintaining nuclear arsenals).
Yeah, both good points. To further complicate things, if you’re concerned about the net costs of your donation (e.g. both the transaction fees, as well as the administrative costs involved) then sometimes paying the transaction fee means that it’s actually cheaper overall to process the transaction. For example, the service paid for by the credit card fees on EA Funds (Stripe) allows us to automate almost all of the accounting, saving a huge amount of person-hours and keeping running costs lower. Obviously there’s a break-even point, and for larger donations it definitely makes sense to seek to avoid percentage-based fees.
First, I’ll note that we’re actually planning to change this system (likely in the next week or two), so that instead of first seeing a default allocation, donors will choose their own allocation as the first step in the donation process.
To your question, the current EA Funds default allocation was chosen as an approximation of some combination of a) a representative split of the cause areas based on their relative interest across EA, and b) a guess at what we thought the underlying funding gaps in each cause area will likely to be. It’s definitely intended to be approximate, and is there partly as a guide to give an indication of how the slider allocation system works, rather than an allocation that we think everyone should choose.
Context: I help run EA Funds and am responsible for the user-facing side of things, including the website
Update – winners have been drawn!
Thanks everyone who participated this year. The lotteries have been drawn and both had a winner!
$100k – Echo Nolan
$500k – Elizabeth Barnes
Yeah, this is something that’s definitely been discussed, and I think this would be a logical first step between the current state of the world and hiring grantmakers to specific teams.
Yeah, the Fund balances are updated when the entries for the grants are entered into our accounting system (typically at the time that the grants are paid out). Because it can take a while to source all the relevant information from recipients (bank details etc), this doesn’t always happen immediately. Unfortunately this means that there’s always going to be some potential for drift here, though (absent accounting corrections like that applicable to the Global Development Fund) this should resolve itself within ~ a month. The November balances included ~ half of the payments made from the Animal Welfare and Meta Funds from their respective November grant rounds.
[meta: apologies for the belated response]
Thanks again for the thoughtful comments. I agree that the numbers should have been higher; that was an oversight (and perhaps speaks to the difficulty of keeping these numbers accurate longer term). I’m not sure how I missed the extra 80K and Founders Pledge grants (I think they came from an earlier payout report that I forgot to include in my calculations). I’m sorry that this wasn’t done correctly the first time around.
I’ve since removed the grant amounts (leaving just the grantees/grant categories), and I might re-title the field to just be called ‘Past Grantmaking’ or something similar. We’ve also created a public spreadsheet of all of the EA Funds grants, so they’re accessible in once place.
I added the ‘Grantmaking and Impact’ section to the Funds pages in response to feedback that it was hard to get a feel for what each Fund did in a tangible way, especially for newer donors who hadn’t been following the Funds over time and hadn’t yet dived into the payout reports. The idea here was to give a flavour of the kinds of things that each Fund had granted to, rather than to provide an exhaustive list (that’s what the payout reports are for). I still think that this is valuable, but I agree that keeping the numbers accurate has some problems, so for now we’ll remove them.
Most Fund balances are in general reasonably accurate (although the current balances don’t account from the latest round that were only paid out last month). The exception here is the Global Development Fund, which is still waiting on the accounting correction you mentioned to post, but I’ve just been informed that this has just been given over to the bookkeepers to action, so this should be resolved very soon.