(opinions in this post don't necessarily reflect that of the RAISE team. This is me personally)

What does a job earn you? Money, for starters. But that seems to be a crude model. If people would only get jobs for money, barely anyone would work at a charity. Or charities would just generally be a lot less costs-effective, because you couldn't hire as many people for the same money.

One of CFAR's techniques (at least back in 2016) is Factoring. You take a goal and break it down to it's constituents. Why do you really want X? Because of Y and Z, so let's try getting Y and Z instead, without necessarily getting X.

In that spirit, here's a few other things that a (proper) job earns you:

  • Actual impact
  • Prestige
  • Friends
  • Feeling useful
  • Doing fun stuff

As a team member of a charity, one of my consistent worries is funding. Some are lucky and get a big grant right at the start. Some just manage to subsist, living from grant to grant with a 3-month runway, working a part-time job on the side so they don't have to take a wage and jeopardize their baby.

I'm most grateful for those that provide a monthly donation. Instead of sweating on the operations hassle of launching a fundraiser, they allow us to forget about it a bit and focus on creating value instead.

In some sense, bringing in money is just another job. Some create content, some do research, some do operations, and some bring in the money so that the whole team can live off it.

We think of the latter as fundamentally different, but I'd like to experiment with the notion that this need not be the case. In some sense, these people are just taking care of one of the organisational needs: making sure everyone has a sandwich to eat.

I want to think of providing funding as just another job. One applies, and if accepted, they do earning to give and share a part of their income (50%?) with the project. Instead of being paid with money, the pay is an inclusion in the team and all the benefits that it provides. Like being listed on the team page and being socially included and invited to all the brainstorms and, well, belonging.

This could very well be a bad idea. This could very well be a good idea. I don't know if this is an offer anyone would want to take. I don't know whether this might lead to toxic dependency relationships. My provisional prior is 50/50. In any case it seems worth trying.

So PM me if this interests you, and we can explore our options.

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We have a term for the reverse job: it's called "hiring someone". Rather than being paid to bring some non-monetary value (a job), you pay them to receive a non-monetary value (an employee or vendor). I'd be _VERY_ cautious about turning donations into sales. For most donors, you really do NOT want to give an accounting of the direct value you've provided, and instead want to focus on the indirect/long-term/global values that you're providing.

Listing them on team and contributor pages is a no-brainer: donations are valuable input, just like effort and creativity. Inviting them to working sessions, though, is confusing. Either they contribute value in these sessions, and you'd want them there even without the donation, or they detract and you're wasting your time and their money by having them there.

An anecdote, showing both working and non-working aspects of this: my wife worked (paid professional position) for a statewide food-bank-logistics charity, to which we also donated money to and volunteered for events at. It worked well for quite a while, but the three interactions were kept extremely separate. Even so, when there were some difficulties at work (it was a fast-growing organization and suffered the normal pains for that), and she left the job, it became quite uncomfortable to volunteer and our motivations for donations shifted as well.

I'd also avoid measuring the contribution as percentage of income - your needs and expenses (and normal-job salaries) are in absolute dollars, and people's contributions are not relative to their other interests/income/time.

For most donors, you really do NOT want to give an accounting of the direct value you've provided, and instead want to focus on the indirect/long-term/global values that you're providing.

You're afraid that this will lead to perverse incentives, correct? Signaling instead of focusing on real impact?

Inviting them to working sessions, though, is confusing. Either they contribute value in these sessions, and you'd want them there even without the donation, or they detract and you're wasting your time and their money by having them there.

This looks like one of those cases where ignoring desiderata that are hard to measure leads to a skewed decision. The downsides are salient, the upsides are something fuzzy tribal romantic something. I wouldn't be surprised if the latter is sufficiently motivating for the counterfactual to be no donor rather than an uninvolved donor. Some people want inclusion. I want to include all these excellent people, but resources/logistics don't allow it. Their donating fixes that problem.

Probably the source of our disagreement is what an organisation is supposed to be. Here's a helpful distinction: the tribe and the hunting party. The hunting party is lean, maximizing, exclusive and goal-oriented. The tribe is broad, satisficing, inclusive and process-oriented.

It's easy to find a hunting party, but hard to find a tribe. It strikes me that I'm leveraging this need for a tribe to bolster my hunting party. You may have a point that this is a bad idea. On the other hand, there is evidence that hunting parties with tribal characteristics are more effective. This distinction might not be as useful as our culture might suggest.

So I still think it's worth a try, though I appreciate your warning, and I'll keep it it mind.

You're afraid that this will lead to perverse incentives, correct? Signaling instead of focusing on real impact?

Honestly, I was warning against LOSING the signaling (and self-signaling) value that donors get from their donations. There's a lot of people who donate to various causes (even yours) based on fairly vague and optimistic beliefs about the actual activities that they're funding and the relationship between their money and the final outcomes. Disillusioning them by making them more involved in day-to-day operations could well hurt their feelings and your revenue.

ETA: Despite my warnings, I do think that experimenting and trying different types and mixtures of employee/volunteer/customer/vendor/donor/grant-recipient relationships is awesome, and I look forward to hearing how it works.

On one hand, this doesn't sound completely novel (i.e. paid board seats and sponsors exist). But, it does seem noteworthy that this wasn't something I felt an affordance to look out for as a possibility, as a middle class person.

Students of mafias (and taxation) find that 20-30% of income is the point where negative effects on the business' viability begin to show. I don't have citations handy.

Former Pakistani president Zardari was known as Mr. 10%. Christian churchs have a tradition of 10% tithes, and some successful churches use 'status as one who tithes' as a necessary criteria for (unpaid) positions of trust and responsibility within the organization of the church.

According to the film 'American Pimp', pimps in general demand 100% from their workers, rationalized with (paraphrasing to remove colorful language) 'I post 100% of bail, and provide 100% of a roof, so they need to be out earning 100%'.

I react negatively to the 50% ask, and upon reflection, suspect that this emotional reaction may be due to a feeling that this obligation resembles the one inflicted by an ex-wife in the American system.

Good luck!

Would love to see this attempted, although it seems that in order to be worthwhile the person would most likely have to be co-located with the team. Also, if the organisation later receives funding, the amount of prestige/influence of those taking this role will seem to drop or they might even become completely obsolete.

>it seems that in order to be worthwhile the person would most likely have to be co-located with the team

My conclusion was the opposite. For this to work well the bread winner should be in a high earning location (which typically high cost living) and the rest of the team should be in a low cost location (which typically have low earning potential).

Being the only one in the team that is i a separate lotion, is not optimal for inclusion. But many teams are spread out anyway. I am pretty sure RAISE is not all in one location. As an other example, the organizers of AI Safety Camp is spread out all over Europe.

>Also, if the organisation later receives funding, the amount of prestige/influence of those taking this role will seem to drop or they might even become completely obsolete.

This might actually be feature, not a bug. When the new organisation has grown up and are receiving all the grants they need, then it is time for the funder to move on, to the next project, brining with them knowledge and experience from the first project.

I think this is a cool idea and look forward to seeing it attempted.