Holiday giving thread

by Kaj_Sotala1 min read23rd Dec 201132 comments


Personal Blog

Since this is the season to respect the universe as a worthy foe and remember the challenges ahead of us, it felt appropriate that I should donate some money for a good cause. Then it occurred to me, why not use the opportunity to encourage somebody else to do so as well?

So, if you promise to donate money to either the Singularity Institute or the Future of Humanity Institute before the end of the year, and pledge that you wouldn't have done so without this opportunity, then I will match your donation dollar-for-dollar. Saying "I would have donated 50 dollars without this opportunity but with it I'll donate 75" is also fine - in that case I'll match the extra 25. I'll match up to a total of 100 EUR (about 130 USD at today's rate): first-come first-served, so get your matches while they're hot. EDIT: I hit my maximum total, but curiousepic is running a matching as well, see below!

Please feel free to also declare any of your (more or less) completely unrelated donations in this thread, or to set up your own matching pledges.


curiousepic matches up to a total of $1000 on donations to SI, SENS, or GiveWell. (Up to $800.)

Kaj Sotala matched up to a total of $130 on donations to SI or FHI. (Up to $130.)

Matched donations:

Barry_Cotter donated $25 to SI. (matched $25 each by curiousepic, Kaj Sotala)

Daniel_Burfoot donated $100 to SI. (matched $100 each by curiousepic, Kaj Sotala)

atucker donated $12/month to SI. (matched $5 by Kaj Sotala, $144? by curiousepic)

wmorgan donated $1531 to SI. (matched $531 by curiousepic)

Non-matched donations:

Dr_Manhattan donated $100 to SI.

lincolquirk donated $700 to SI, $300 to Against Malaria Foundation.

Normal_Anomaly donated $300 to Against Malaria Foundation.

32 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 9:50 AM
New Comment

So far this year I have donated $1000 to SIAI and $1000 to SENS. I was planning to donate more than $1000 additional to SENS this year. But here is what I'm going to do instead. For every dollar of your pledge (same stipulations as in the OP) to SIAI OR SENS OR Givewell, I will match it for the same organization, up to $1000 total (any additional I decide to spend will probably go to SENS).

I have made the donation of $800 matched for wmorgan, atucker, Daniel Burfoot, and Barry Cotter. Thanks for participating everyone!

Thank you! And I just gave $200 to SI on top of the $50/month they automatically get from me.

That's fantastic, thank you!

I added you to the opening post. I was a bit unsure of how to count atucker's recurring $12 donation, but decided to count it as $144 (for 12 * $12) in your matching total - would you agree with that way of counting it?

Yes that works. Thanks for putting these together in the OP!

Donated 700 to SI this holiday season, and 300 to AMF (givewell's top choice) on behalf of my grandparents. Not eligible for match.

Great! Even though you're not eligible, I added a mention of you to the opening post. :-)

Not eligible for match, but 100 USD went to SIAI this week. (Just to set up the social proof :-p)

Great, thanks! I added a mention of you to the opening post.

In addition to my ongoing $1000 monthly donation, I just donated an extra $2000 due to this matching drive and other incentives.

This prompted a recurring $12/month donation from me.

I was second guessing details, but decided to just go ahead and click all the buttons to make it happen before I just didn't act.

That's the right attitude, thanks. :-) I added a mention of you to the opening post. (The donation was to SI, I presume?)

It was.

And thanks for getting me to finally do that.

I just donated $25 to SingInst that I would not have but for this post. I suggest editing the post with links to the pages where people can donate. For example, you can donate to SingInst here.

Thank you! And that's an excellent idea, I've now done that. (Also, mentioned your donation in the post.)

Not eligible for match, but I donated $300 to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Cool! I added you to the opening post.

Excellent strategy, sir. It worked on me: I just donated $100, and wouldn't have otherwise.

Hearing this makes my Christmas feel considerably better - not that it would have felt bad otherwise. :-) Thank you! I added a mention of you to the opening post.

By the way, it seems that the usual end-of-the-year SI fundraising is live now.

And I hit my $130, so I donated it to SI. Happy holidays!

You should also pledge that you won't donate unless you do so to match another donation, otherwise the value added of a matching donation is an illusion here. Though, the illusion may be all that is needed to motivate donations.

Good point. While I hit my full total before reading your comment, I hereby regardless pledge that I wouldn't have donated unless it was to match another donation, and that this also holds in any counterfactual or parallel worlds where people don't get up to the full sum.

From the title, I was expecting something about gift giving heuristics like the following:

Suppose you're trying to impress a loved one with a generous gift this holiday season, says Kimberlee Weaver, assistant professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business. One option is to buy them a luxury cashmere sweater. A second option is to add in a $10 gift card. If their budget allows, most gift givers would choose the second option, as it comprises two gifts — one big, one small, Weaver says. Ironically, however, the gift recipient is likely to perceive the cashmere sweater alone as more generous than the combination of the same sweater and gift card. "The gift giver or presenter does not anticipate this difference in perspectives and has just cheapened the gift package by spending an extra $10 on it." Weaver is part of a research team that recently discovered, through a series of studies, what the team has called the "Presenter's Paradox." The paradox arises because gift givers and gift recipients have different perspectives, Weaver says. Gift givers follow a "more-is-better" logic; recipients evaluate the overall package.

Thank you for your generosity. I hope those who were hoping for gift-giving advice can benefit from the linked paper!

[-][anonymous]9y 4

From the title, I was expecting something about gift giving heuristics

Me too! I used the the info you posted when I was doing my last-minute gift shopping today, so thanks!

For anyone still working on wrapping, here is an interesting little factoid:

Apparently, wrapping a gift really nicely increases expectations of the gift, which then leads to disappointment if the gift fails to live up to said expectations. It is often wise to wrap the gift poorly, or not at all. This leads to higher appreciation of the gift.

More info here.

I don't have a good link, but I recall reading that, for people one knows well enough to make educated guesses about it, the ideal gifts are things that the recipient would enjoy but would feel guilty or otherwise reluctant about spending their own money on.

I just donated $300 to Givewell for AMF.

I was planning on giving $1000...

but 2011 will be the first year that I itemize, so I'm really only spending 75% of whatever I give...

and I can pick up that sweet match from curiousepic...

and if I ever want to be rich & happy, I have to maximize EV where I see opportunities to do so...

So I've made it an even $1531 to SIAI. Happy Holidays!

Great! I added you to the post. Happy Holidays! :-)

I may try to itemize this year - is there a good guide to doing so?

Also, if I'm reading this correctly, I should match $531 to SI for you?

My plan is just to read IRS 1040 Schedule A and the instructions for it. The tax code itself isn't too horrible either, from what I've seen, but this is coming from a guy that reads computer programs for fun and profit.

Yeah, lock up that $531 for SI.