As you probably know, Giving What We Can exists to move donations to the charities that can most effectively help others. Our members take a pledge to give 10% of their incomes for the rest of their life to the most impactful charities. Along with other extensive resources for donors such as GiveWell and OpenPhil, we produce and communicate, in an accessible way, research to help members determine where their money will do the most good. We also impress upon members and the general public the vast differences between the best charities and the rest.
Many LessWrongers are members or supporters, including of course the author of Slate Star Codex. We also recently changed our pledge so that people could give to whichever cause they felt best helped others, such as existential risk reduction or life extension, depending on their views. Many new members now choose to do this.
What you might not know is that 2014 was a fantastic year for us - our rate of membership growth more than tripled! Amazingly, our 1066 members have now pledged over $422 million, and already given over $2 million to our top rated charities. We've accomplished this on a total budget of just $400,000 since we were founded. This new rapid growth is thanks to the many lessons we have learned by trial and error, and the hard work of our team of staff and volunteers.
To make it to the end of the year we need to raise just another £110,000. Most charities have a budget in the millions or tens of millions of pounds and we do what we do with a fraction of that.
We want to raise the money as quickly as possible, so that our staff can stop focusing on fundraising (which takes up a considerable amount of energy), and get back to the job of growing our membership.
Some of our supporters are willing to sweeten the deal as well: if you haven't given us more than £1,000 before, then they'll match 1:1 a gift between £1,000 and £5,000.
You can give now or email me (robert dot wiblin at centreforeffectivealtruism dot org) for our bank details. Info on tax deductible giving from the USA and non-UK Europe are also available on our website.
What we are doing this year
The second half of this year is looking like it will be a very exciting for us. Four books about effective altruism are being released this year, including one by our own trustee William MacAskill, which will be heavily promoted in the US and UK. The Effective Altruism Summit is also turning into 'EA Global' with events at Google Headquarters in San Francisco, Oxford University and Melbourne, headlined by Elon Musk.
Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people will be finding out about our philosophy of effective giving for the first time.
To do these opportunities justice Giving What We Can needs to expand its staff to support its rapidly growing membership and local chapters, and ensure we properly follow up with all prospective members. We want to take people who are starting to think about how they can best make the world a better place, and encourage them to make a serious long-term commitment to effective giving, and help them discover where their money can do the most good.
Looking back at our experience over the last five years, we estimate that each $1 given to Giving What We Can has already moved $6, and will likely end up moving between $60 and $100 to the most effective charities in the world. (This are time discounted, counterfactual donations, only to charities we regard very highly. Check out this report for more details.)
This represents a great return on investment, and I would be very sad if we couldn't take these opportunities just because we lacked the necessary funding.
Our marginal hire
If we don't raise this money we will not have the resources to keep on our current Director of Communications. He has invaluable experience as a Communications Director for several high-profile Australian politicians, which has given him skills in web-development, public relations, graphic design, public speaking and social media. Amongst the things he has already achieved in his three months here are: automation of the book-keeping on our Trust (saving huge amounts of time and minimising errors), very much improved our published materials including our fundraising prospectus, written a press release and planned a media push to capitalise on our getting to 1,000 members and Peter Singer’s book release in the UK.
His wide variety of skills mean that there are a large number of projects he would be capable of doing which would increase our member growth, and we are keen for him to test a number of these. His first project would be to optimise our website to make the most of the increased attention effective altruism will be generating over the summer and turn that into people actually donating 10% of their incomes to the most effective causes. In the past we have had trouble finding someone with such a broad set of crucial skills. Combined with how swiftly and well he has integrated into our team, it would be a massive loss to have to let him go and later down the line need to try to recruit a replacement.
As I wrote earlier you can give now or email me (robert dot wiblin at centreforeffectivealtruism dot org) for bank details or personalised advice on how to give best. If you need tax deductibility in another country check these pages on the USA and non-UK Europe.
I'm happy to take questions here or by email!