Announcing the 2019-20 Donor Lottery

post by SamDeere · 2019-12-02T13:56:52.890Z · score: 52 (20 votes) · EA · GW · 8 comments


  Making recommendations
  Previous donor lotteries:
  Further reading:

In advance of this year’s giving season, EA Funds will once again run a donor lottery.

Donor lotteries provide donors with a chance to guide a large amount of money to projects they believe will do the most good.

There will be two open lotteries, one with a block size of $100,000 and one with a block size of $500,000. Carl Shulman will provide backstop funding for the lotteries from his discretionary funds held at the Centre for Effective Altruism.

If you’d like to read more about the process, please have a look at the EA Funds Donor Lotteries page. The TL;DR is:

Key dates (both lotteries):

All dates are at 8pm UTC

To enter the lottery, make a donation via the EA Funds Donor Lottery page for the block size of your choice:

Enter the Donor Lottery

You can donate directly through the EA Funds interface. Donations are tax deductible in the United States and the United Kingdom (donors in the Netherlands can also make tax-deductible donations in £GBP by choosing the ‘UK’ option on the payment page). 

If you’d like to make a cryptocurrency donation worth over $1,000 (BTC or ETH) please contact funds[at]effectivealtruism[dot]org for more details.

Making recommendations

Winners will have the option to make recommendations to the Centre for Effective Altruism, which is the legal entity backing EA Funds. However, CEA may face constraints in the particular organisations that it can make grants to, and is likely to be somewhat averse to approving riskier grants. To allow for more flexibility, we’ll also offer potential winners in the US or the UK the option of setting up a Donor Advised Fund that can handle the grantmaking instead (if a winner arises in another country we’ll explore options for setting up a similar system, but can’t guarantee that this will be possible).  If you win a lottery block, we’ll talk to you about your preferences. 

For more information please see the ‘Caveats and Limitations’ section of the Donor Lottery page.

Previous donor lotteries:

Further reading:


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by SamDeere · 2020-02-03T15:27:01.342Z · score: 13 (9 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Update – winners have been drawn!

Thanks everyone who participated this year. The lotteries have been drawn and both had a winner!

Congratulations both!

comment by Raemon · 2020-02-04T02:00:34.000Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)


comment by richard_ngo · 2019-12-03T10:13:29.606Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)
2018-19: a $100,000 lottery (no winners)

What happens to the money in this case?

comment by SamDeere · 2019-12-03T14:43:47.918Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

The money is kept aside as the first tranche of backstop for future donor lotteries – if someone wins, we'll first draw from this pool of money to cover the pot, and then we'll use the lottery guarantor's money to cover any remainder.

comment by Jonas Vollmer · 2019-12-04T14:57:28.724Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I was confused by this as well. Does "no winners" mean "the backstop funder won"? If not, how can there not be a winner?

comment by JP Addison (jpaddison) · 2019-12-04T21:17:03.373Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Yes, that's what it means.

You can think of the backstop funder as being a regular participant who happens to enter with the amount necessary to bring it to the promised pool size. This was basically the way we viewed it for the first lottery. The newer incarnations have shifted towards the view of the backstop funder as part of the infrastructure of the lottery. It's not much of a meaningful change, just a expression of the likelihood that the funder will want to do something with the winnings other than fund the lottery the next time and some (ambiguously intentional) nomenclature shifts.

comment by JP Addison (jpaddison) · 2019-12-05T02:16:25.175Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Wait I missed a chance to link to my favorite part of the lottery UI – check out this beautiful visualization:

comment by Raemon · 2019-12-29T02:25:41.885Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I just donated to the first lottery, but FYI I found it surprisingly hard to navigate back to it, or link others to it. It doesn't look like the lottery is linked from anywhere on the site and I had to search for this post to find the link again.