Support Promoting Effective Giving - Intentional Insights

post by Gleb_T · 2015-12-20T23:16:20.652Z · score: 14 (20 votes) · EA · GW · Legacy · 23 comments

First meta-note: I think impala made a wise point that any requests for support posted on this forum should make a case for why you shouldn’t support a GiveWell-endorsed direct-action charity instead, such as GiveDirectly or AMF. Therefore, I am writing this request for support from that perspective.

 

Second meta-note: based on Ryan Carey and Tom Ash’s suggestions, I would appreciate feedback, private or public in comment form, on how to improve this post. We’re all in this together, after all, even if we have some differences around methods, and I’m always striving to improve :-) Now, on to the post itself.

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Brief Summary

This post describes the work of Intentional Insights to promote EA-style effective giving ideas to a broad audience in order to channel people's giving to effective charities. It shares the methods InIn uses, the outcomes of InIn's work, various collaborations with other organizations, InIn's financials, and its plans for the future. Besides our direct work promoting effective giving, we also promote rational thinking and effective decision-making strategies, which helps EAs build their capacity, and has a variety of other robustly positive outcomes for human flourishing. The post makes a case for how by contributing your time and talents, and/or your money, to InIn as an EA meta-charity you can make a bigger difference in the world to advance human flourishing than by contributing to a GiveWell-recommended direct-action charity.


Full post

 

Introduction

Intentional Insights aims to spread EA-themed effective giving ideas to a broad audience, and channel the giving activities of non-EAs into effective charities endorsed by GiveWell. In other words, by contributing time and money to Intentional Insights, EAs can get the outcome of non-EAs giving to effective charities, multiplying the impact of their support to effective charities manifold. Moreover, you can support InIn with time as well as with money, while GiveWell-endorsed charities are generally best supported with money.

 

Methods

How does InIn promote effective giving? We use modern content marketing strategies and speak to people’s hearts as well as their heads. We distinguish promoting effective giving and individual EA organizations from promoting EA as a movement, to avoid the threat of rapid movement growth, while still leaving hidden hooks that would enable those interested to find the movement. We orient toward being quite transparent about what we are doing, getting feedback from members of the EA community and updating based on that feedback, including acknowledging mistakes and trying to improve going forward.

 

Specific Examples of Our EA Work

 

 

 

These examples illustrate the kind of work that we do: publishing pieces that promote effective giving directly, and collaborating with other organizations to promote effective giving through their channels. To learn more about the methods, assumptions, and impact of Intentional Insights, check out our Theory of Change and our Annual Report.

 

Future Plans

In the next year, we are planning to expand our activities in promoting effective giving in five major directions:

 

Financials

Financially, we have just started our fundraising outside of a narrow circle of initial supporters, since we wanted to get our content to a level where it would be publishable in The Huffington Post. Our basic operations budget is $42050, and we are currently in the red, with the co-founders covering about 88% of the basic expenses, which is not sustainable past the next year. We also want funding to get a new website and integrated donor and financial database, and most importantly hire a staff member, since we are an all-volunteer organization, and that is not sustainable in the long run. You can see our funding breakdown and priorities at the bottom of the Annual Report.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, the reason you would support InIn as an EA meta-charity, over a direct-action charity endorsed by GiveWell, is that by doing so you would highly likely direct many more dollars into effective charities than by contributing to direct-action charities themselves. Likewise, you can support InIn effectively with your time and talents, while direct-action charities would generally benefit most from financial contributions. Of course, as the section on InIn financial needs discusses, it needs some financial contributions as well, so make your own decisions about what kind of impact you want to see in the world through your donations.

 

Next Steps

If you would like to support this work to promote effective giving to a broad audience, but are not sure yet how you would like to do so, please fill out this supporters form. If you are interested in contributing your time, for example to creating content, providing feedback, or developing the resource bank, please fill out this volunteers form. If you are capable of financial donations and are interested in using your dollars to channel the spending of others into effective giving, please donate. The next ten days are a very high-leverage opportunity to donate, as InIn was awarded a challenge grant – if we get 10 new donors and 10 monthly donors by the end of the year, we will get $2000. So donations from new monthly donors, which double-count, are particularly welcomed.

 

Thanks again, and I look forward to your thoughts and feedback! You can also PM me on the forum or email me at gleb@intentionalinsights.org

 

P.S. Based on Ryan Carey's suggestions, I want to highlight that InIn is a new project, and promoting effective giving ideas, as opposed to EA as a movement, is a new field of endeavor for EAs. So I would be enthusiastic to learn about what reservations folks have. We are quite open to revising the nature of our work if it seems we are headed in a suboptimal direction, and want to learn more from the community about what the community thinks about what works, and proceeding forward in a collaborative truth-seeking spirit about what would most benefit human flourishing.

 

EDIT: Edited based on Ryan Carey's comments below, and several comments on the .impact Facebook group.

 

 

 

 

23 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by RyanCarey · 2015-12-21T02:41:57.354Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hey Gleb,

Thanks for the post. It's also good of you to ask for feedback, I think. Moreover, I've noticed in the past that some people who have initially received harsh criticism have eventually been some of the best contributors to the community. If others could also put most of their feedback in replies to this comment, that would be appreciated, so that it doesn't overwhelm direct responses to the content of the article.

comment by RyanCarey · 2015-12-21T02:49:18.286Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Here are some of the attributes of this post that I think are great:

  • You discuss concrete actions that can/have been taken to do good

  • You have actually done some of them.

Here are some aspects that can be improved:

  • Since the post is over about a thousand words, you could include a summary of the post at the beginning

  • I think that you would land closer to the mark by simply requesting ways to improve the post, rather than suggesting an obligation that's connected to their voting habits, which people might resent (and therefore downvote, as harsh as that may be).

  • Your previous posts have been percieved as excessively self-promotional. Implicit in this criticism is that you haven't yet convinced others of the value of your project. Your project is new, and seems to be closely tied to the EA community, so perhaps more work needs to be done in eliciting and addressing others' reservations, so that others can either join you or else you can adjust your project. This could be done by soliciting questions, and characterising your disagreements prior to writing essays of persuasion.

Hopefully you will get plenty more criticism from others that is in a similarly constructive spirit.

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-21T03:22:33.376Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Ryan, thank you, these are really helpful suggestions! Much appreciated :-)

I have edited the post to account for all three of your points:

1) Added a summary at the top 2) Removed the sentence clause about voting habits 3) Solicited questions about reservations, and highlighted that we are committed to moving forward in a collaborative truth-seeking manner about what would optimize human flourishing.

Thanks again!

comment by alfredoparra · 2015-12-24T03:59:34.198Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hi Gleb,

Thanks for referring me to this post.

Some preliminary comments. Despite the (at times unfair) criticism you've received in the past, I do think that what you're doing at InIn is valuable and potentially high-impact. Although your content does not resonate with EAs (and that's not your goal), the EA community should acknowledge and embrace the importance of convincing a wider, non-EA audience to donate effectively. Your project is still in a learning phase but making fast progress, so kudos on that and I hope you keep up with the good work.

Now some more concise remarks about the post. I'm unsure to what extent you'll be able to convince EAs to donate to InIn based on the data you present in your Annual Report. The strongest arguments going for InIn seem to be:

  • the vast media coverage, and

  • the large amount of content you've managed to generate.

I don't know how to weigh these numbers in when assessing the effectiveness of InIn. I believe this is not an issue of how you chose to quantify your impact - you have done a good job in keeping track of the numbers. It is rather the nature of InIn that can make it quite difficult to establish exactly (or even roughly) how much you can achieve (in terms of money moved to effective charities) per dollar you receive. GWWC has the advantage of being able to come up with such numbers more straightforwardly. 80,000 Hours has also published convincing metrics of their impact, despite the difficulty in tracking their success. However, I am excited to see that you plan to test your interventions more rigorously in the future, and I look forward to your results. Until then, would it be fair to say that funding InIn at this stage requires a small leap of faith?

Thanks again for all the great work! Looking forward to future collaborations.

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-24T17:21:01.542Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Alfredo, thanks for your supportive comments! I'm glad you and a number of other EAs recognize the importance of convincing a wider, non-EA audience of giving effectively :-)

Indeed, InIn is still in the earlier phase and learning very actively, but I hope we never stop learning even as we settle on a more concrete path of activities. There's so much good to be done to help improve the world and convey the message of effective giving broadly, but there's many ways to get there, and we constantly try to seek the best path that balances maximum upsides and lowest downsides.

Yeah, it's hard to measure the exact impact of vast media coverage and the large amount of content. We can only use case studies so far to see the impact in dollars moved - such as the comment linked above. Another example is what I heard from a prominent EA recently about her showing my Huffington Post to her mom, and her mom - not an EA - donating to the Effective Altruism Foundation as a result.

We do plan to test interventions more rigorously as we are able to get the funding and resources necessary to run studies.

I agree that funding InIn at this stage requires a small leap of faith. It requires a venture capitalist mentality - there's higher risks but higher rewards as well. Every dollar given at the earlier stage makes a bigger impact than one at a later stage in the ability of InIn to improve the world sooner. Moreover, since we are at the early stage of our fundraising, every dollar makes a bigger impact. Additionally, the challenge grant makes it an especially good time to give right now.

Look forward to future collaborations as well!

comment by casebash · 2015-12-22T06:05:16.672Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm very interested in seeing how your project goes. I suspect that it will take more time to build trust and credibility with the EA community, but I wish you the best of luck for this.

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-22T16:02:59.662Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks a lot for your good wishes!

comment by scottweathers · 2015-12-22T03:18:01.458Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Happy to see this project. It's a useful experiment and think it could have value in moving non-EA money towards effective projects!

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-22T03:43:07.579Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, we try! I was just chatting to an EA today who told me he showed one of our Huffington Post articles to his mom, and it convinced her to donate to the Effective Altruism Foundation. That comment really made my day!

comment by saulius · 2015-12-21T17:31:13.303Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

When browsing in http://intentionalinsights.org/ it doesn't look like promoting EA is your primary goal. Goals stated in http://intentionalinsights.org/about (nothing directly about charity/altruism) are very different from the ones stated here. Are you planning to radically shift your focus?

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-21T18:03:38.354Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for bringing this up! We only mention altruism briefly in our vision, among other things. I can see how this might be confusing :-)

Here is the reason. Since we're pursuing promoting effective giving to non-EAs, our organization is outward-facing to the broad audience, unlike the majority of EA meta-organizations, which are mainly inward-facing to the EA movement. Since we are outward-facing, we need to be careful about stating explicitly the goals we are pursuing - it won't be very beneficial to tell our non-EA audiences that we are trying to promote EA-themed effective giving idea through using emotional engagement and persuasion tactics on them :-) Instead, we tell our non-EA audiences that we are trying to help them reach their goals, which is the case - we are helping them realize their actual goals if they understood how to reach their actual giving goals by giving in the most impactful manner.

This is why we have a separate EA webpage that outlines our EA orientation, which is not linked to from our outward, public-facing website.

comment by saulius · 2015-12-21T21:24:38.829Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Not sure it's a good approach because:

  1. Being dishonest about your goals and half-secretly manipulating people spreads the wrong values and can backfire easily, giving bad reputation to EA.

  2. Topics like http://intentionalinsights.org/how-sure-are-you-about-your-memories don’t seem to promote EA in any way and yet your resources are spent on them. Because you admitted being dishonest about your goals to your readers, it makes me doubt whether you are honest about them to us :) In fact, your changes in https://wiki.lesswrong.com/index.php?title=Intentional_Insights&diff=15260&oldid=152533 targeted at a rational crowd also don't mention charity or altruism. And defending your stuff on a wiki in third person is also not very nice.

  3. I see no reason to promote EA indirectly because EA is easy to sell to many rational people. People who easily agree to EA are most-likely the ones that can be most cost-effectively targeted for advertisement while the movement small.

Sorry if any of that came of as harsh. I still think it's great you are actually trying something while I just sit at home and criticise everyone :)

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-21T22:17:38.770Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for raising these points, and no worries about sounding critical! If you have these concerns, other people do too, and it's important to have a transparent dialogue about them :-)

1) First, let's be very clear and specific about out terminology. I think the word "dishonest" does not serve us well here. Let's taboo that, and talk about what we actually do. As I stated above, what we do is help people realize their actual goals, if they knew about the best methods of reaching them. Namely, typical people have a desire to help others, but they don't necessarily know the best way to do that. They fall into attention bias, they don't realize the salience of the drowning child problem, and they give to whatever charity has the best marketing. That's why our mission states "We empower people to refine and reach their goals," and the refining part addresses helping people figure out what their goals actually are. We help them achieve their more long-term goals, in other words.

2A) Yup, Intentional Insights promotes both effective giving and effective decision-making. That's mentioned briefly above and described here in more depth. Doing so helps improve the capacity of EAs who engage with our content, and contributes to the flourishing of non-EAs.

2B) Ugh, the wiki thing was pretty ugly. The full story is here - we had a hater try to wipe the InIn wiki entry. It was settled but the part about promoting EA was deleted in the settlement. I'm not happy with the outcome, but it's the best we could get.

2C) You can see my goals through my actions - I have invested a lot of time and efforts and money into promoting effective giving, freely and of my own volition. There was nothing forcing me to do so, and no specific benefit I was getting from it. Both from a social status perspective and from a financial perspective, I'm fine with my situation as a professor at Ohio State - I get social respect and fine job benefits. So my only gain from promoting effective giving is other people giving effectively and my only reason for engaging with the EA movement and taking the GWWC pledge and TLYCS pledge is my passion for helping people flourish :-)

3) Actually, not promoting effective giving leaves a lot of money on the table, as I argue here.

comment by saulius · 2015-12-28T17:55:26.934Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

1A) In my experience, typical people don't have strong desires to help people far away. They just don't care about them nearly as much as themselves and their relatives, especially children. It never seems to me when talking with such people that they are confused. It always seems that they just have different values. Actually, their values make more sense from evolutionary psychology POV. So if you ask a person "Being effective at altruism (towards people/animals that might be far away and you won't necessarily meet) is one of goals in your life, right?" and he disagrees (or agrees to seem good but then doesn't act on it), IMO most likely that person has different core values, which are usually very hard to change. If I am right, little will be donated by audience you gain by omitting that altruism is your goal. By omitting that you may also fail to attract some people who are interested in altruism and can be targeted more productively.

Not sure if people who e. g. donate to cancer charities because they recently lost their relative to cancer are usually confused. It could also be different values to some degree. IMO that could be a more productive target audience.

1B) If I was a non-EA fan of InIn and after a google search I found a sentence like "it won't be very beneficial to tell our non-EA audiences that we are trying to promote EA-themed effective giving idea through using emotional engagement and persuasion tactics on them", I would probably feel angry, manipulated and being treated as someone of a lower intellectual class. Not sure what percentage of people would feel in a similar way. If a journalist found such sentence when writting about InIn, he might see it as an opportunity for initiating a scandal. Stuff like that can never happen when you always say/write everything you are thinking that is important enough to be said: no lies, no "Not Technically Lying", no omissions. Just always trying to make maps in other brains closer to what you think is reality. This is what I call honesty. Spreading EA ideas seems like an admirable goal to many people so to me it's strange that you chose to hide that.

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-28T21:03:50.493Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

1A) The example of Giving Games seems to confound your hypothesis, and I am convinced by it: http://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/Blog/ID/196/Can-Giving-Games-change-donor-behavior-We-did-an-experiment-to-find-out Essentially, Giving Games help people realize their own values, through putting them before a real choice, one that is emotionally engaging and forces them to think through the situation.

1B) This leads to the second point. Speaking to people's emotions and using stories is not lying, even technically :-) Helping people learn more about their own values is what's at stake. I accept that you have a belief that spreading EA ideas seems like an admirable goal to many people, but it's not an admirable goal to people who don't know about EA. So we need to be strategic in how we speak to them.

Anyway, I don't think a further continuation of this conversation is productive. I have had these conversations with many folks on this forum, you can read my past posts. We may have different perspectives on the best way to approach the same goals, so let's just focus on our broader shared values, and leave each of us to do the best we can to advance human flourishing.

comment by saulius · 2015-12-28T20:47:08.564Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Just noticed that almost the same thoughts regarding 1A) were said in http://effective-altruism.com/ea/rr/the_big_problem_with_how_we_do_outreach/ You don't have to answer any of this if it's not new.

comment by saulius · 2015-12-28T16:51:00.499Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

3) I'm not arguing against promoting effective giving. I'm all for that. Just thinking which ways to do that are the most effective. To your knowledge, how many people you already convinced to donate to EA charities? How much do you think was donated because of InIn?

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-28T20:57:07.041Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

We're at the early stages of starting this campaign, and to my personal knowledge, six people.

However, our methods are such that we don't know the actual impact - for example, one article was shared over 1K times on social media. So it might have convinced thousands. There's no way to tell right now. As I wrote above, we plan to run RCT studies on our impact once we have the funding to do so :-)

comment by Lila · 2015-12-27T00:57:59.298Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

As I've said before, you need to explicitly distinguish yourself from many other meta-organizations promoting EA: GWWC, TLYCS, etc.

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-27T05:00:49.379Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Lila, very much agreed!

None of the organizations you named focus on promoting effective giving to a broad audience in the sense I describe here. In fact, InIn is actively engaging with both of these organizations to advance the idea of promoting effective giving: https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/post/2015/12/why-you-should-be-public-good-deeds/ http://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/Blog/ID/223/Maximizing-Donations-to-Effective-Charities

comment by Jeff_Kaufman · 2016-10-26T17:13:33.517Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Related: Concerns with Intentional Insights

comment by Tom_Ash · 2015-12-28T21:17:26.095Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[Aside]

"I heard from a prominent EA recently about her showing my Huffington Post to her mom, and her mom - not an EA - donating to the Effective Altruism Foundation as a result."

That's striking, and it'd be useful to hear more details, when you (or the other person) have time.

comment by Gleb_T · 2015-12-29T04:08:21.870Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Tom, the mom's contribution was anonymous, so can't go into more detail - shared what I could.