Questions from potential donors to Giving What We Can, 80,000 Hours and EAA

by Giles3 min read11th Nov 201222 comments

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80,000 Hours
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UPDATE: Will has responded here.

The Centre for Effective Altruism has recently opened up for donations. This is the umbrella organisation for Giving What We Can (GWWC), 80,000 Hours (80K) and Effective Animal Activism (EAA, which I think is still formally part of 80K). I responded to Will Crouch in an email with a list of questions. You're welcome to add to the list in the comments and I'll make sure the questions get to him.

Will seems pretty cool about the whole transparency thing so any answers will hopefully make their way onto the LW Discussion board. Will (and Ben Todd) will try to take the time to give accurate and well-formed answers where possible.

CEA is based in the UK so figures are in GBP.

1. What would you do with different funding levels?
- The "what would my money buy" section of the donate page gives me a vague idea
- It's easier to understand information of the form "If we got £50,000 over the next year we'd do this, if we got £100,000 over the next year we'd do this and this"
- I understand if you're unable to produce that kind of information
- That kind of information is particularly useful for evaluating "did things go as well as they were supposed to, given the amount of funding we actually received"
- Particularly useful for me as I'm trying to train myself to identify funding opportunities. So I'll need feedback as to whether I got it right!

2. How much money are you expecting?
- You say on the donate page that you've spent less than £20,000
- This must have come from somewhere - how much of that particular source of funding is still available?
- Are you getting any other emails like this one? (Edit: i.e. which are offering donations, possibly conditional on answering some questions first)
- Do you have any plans (perhaps in the longer term) to chase after big money e.g. Peter Thiel?
- Are you expecting to get a lot of donations back from people who've received advice and help from 80K?
- I sort of get the impression that there's a lot of good feeling towards 80K at least within the effective altruist community, and for that reason it might not be too hard for you to find funds. To what extent do you agree with this?

3. Which is more useful, regular donations or lump sums?

4. If you had funds to hire an extra person, do you know how that person would be?
- How important is it to find talented people to work for you?
- Are you trying to find someone from the top 5%? The top 1%?

5. Where do you see the delineation between what CEA does and what other effective altruist orgs do?
- THINK
- Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
- Center for Applied Rationality
- Future of Humanity Institute
- GiveWell

6. How much personal connection and communication is there between CEA and these orgs?

7. How do you assess the credibility of money pledged?

8. How are you measuring money moved/pledged?
- GiveWell give the impression of being particularly careful about this
- GW also communicate it very openly, including a breakdown of how much money goes to which cause. Are you planning to communicate it in a similar way?
- How much money do you expect to move next year?
- How much of your "money moved" will also get counted as GiveWell's "money moved"? (This is particularly relevant when using money moved figures to estimate the size of the effective giving sector as a whole)

9. You do a bunch of different but related things - website content, speaker events, career counseling,
- Do you imagine yourself specialising in just one of these in the future?
- Are you at the stage of experimenting to find out which activity is the most effective?
- Is there synergy between them? (e.g. if career advice sessions and website content are both a lot more effective if you're also doing the other one)

10. I have very little idea about what the 80K community is like or how exactly you invest in it
- in what ways does your team interact with your community, other than one-on-one career advice and hosting speaker events?
- do you invest in members' skills such as critical thinking and the ability to evaluate organisations?
- what other skills and qualities do you want to develop in your members, and how do you plan to go about it?
- to what extent do you think talents and abilities are inherent (or at least beyond your control), and to what extent are they trainable?

11. Is 80K planning activity in any new physical locations?
- If so, where?
- If there's already a THINK community in that location, what do you imagine the relationship between THINK and 80K looking like?

12. What does 80K/CEA plan in the way of self-evaluation?

13. What are you planning in the way of financial transparency?

14. You said in your LW post that you have "much more information available" on GWWC's impact.

15. There's apparently a lot of interest in xrisk among 80K members. Do you know why this is?

16. Do you know of any other organisations that do anything similar to what you do? (other than ones I've already mentioned). In particular any groups that give career advice to philanthropists.

UPDATE: Will has responded here.

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