Effective Altruism Foundation update: Plans for 2018 and room for more funding

post by Jonas Vollmer · 2017-12-15T15:09:17.168Z · score: 25 (25 votes) · EA · GW · Legacy · 2 comments

Contents

    Table of contents
  Community (previously “Outreach”)
    Project goal and strategy
    Metrics
    Community
    Communications
    Global health and development
  Philanthropy and Raising for Effective Giving
    Project goal
    Metrics
    Strategy
    Poker fundraising: Raising for Effective Giving
    Major donors
    Tax exemption for international EA charities
  Foundational Research Institute
    Project goal
    This year’s notable contributions
    Metrics
    Research areas
    Research outside of FRI
  Wild-Animal Suffering Research
  New project ideas
  Budget
  Use of funds and fundraising objectives
None
2 comments

This post provides an overview of the Effective Altruism Foundation’s plans for the coming year. A version of this update was also published on our blog.

The Effective Altruism Foundation is a Berlin-based EA meta-charity that fundraises for EA charities, builds the German-speaking EA community, and does research on s-risks. We pursue the following vision:

EAF strives towards a world without extreme suffering—one that offers a fulfilling life for all sentient beings. We place special attention on steering the future away from dystopian outcomes (s-risks).

In order to achieve this long-term vision, the Effective Altruism Foundation (EAF) runs three projects, totalling 11-16 FTEs in 2018:

In addition, we handle the finances and provide office space and operations assistance for

All these projects are run by EAF, and our employees work from our Berlin office or remotely. We have a shared operations team that provides support for all of these projects and processes tax-deductible donations to over thirty selected EA organizations for five countries.

This article discusses our plans for 2018. We also published a review of last year’s highlights, mistakes, and insights.

Table of contents

  1. Community (previously “Outreach”)
  2. Philanthropy and Raising for Effective Giving
  3. Foundational Research Institute
  4. Wild-Animal Suffering Research
  5. New project ideas
  6. Budget
  7. Use of funds and fundraising objectives

 

Community (previously “Outreach”)

Project goal and strategy

In the past, one important focus of our outreach project has been to grow the EA movement. Thanks to the work of various EA organizations over the last few years, many good introductory resources to EA are now available, including material in German. Our focus for the next year will be to increase the depth of engagement of members of the community. In the process, we are also renaming the project to “Community” (previously “Outreach”).

In practice, we will increasingly seek personal contact with individuals who show high levels of interest and commitment, with the goals of building the EA community in general (by encouraging in-depth engagement with cause prioritization, career choice, and effective giving, using the material by 80,000 Hours, Open Phil, GiveWell, FHI, CEA, etc.) and also making more direct contributions towards reducing s-risks.

Metrics

We plan to measure and assess the success of the project using two metrics:

Further details on these metrics are expected to be published in the coming months.

Community

Communications

Global health and development

Philanthropy and Raising for Effective Giving

Project goal

The aim of our fundraising activities is to generate as much financial resources as possible for the most effective charities, particularly those working to reduce poverty, animal suffering, and risks of future technologies. Special priority is given to projects that, in line with our vision, have a positive impact on the quality of the long-term future.

Metrics

We measure the success of the our philanthropic efforts by the total amount of donations to effective charities for which we are counterfactually responsible—that is, funds that would have been donated far less effectively or not at all if it were not for our work. In 2018, we aim to fundraise $2 million with our project Raising for Effective Giving (REG), plus potentially larger amounts with our other philanthropy activities.

Strategy

With REG, we have collected around €3 million in donations from within the poker industry since 2014. The two largest online poker platforms now support REG's recommendations with regular donations, and since 2014, REG has been represented by at least one of the nine finalists of the annual World Championship each year. In the meantime, we have become so well established in the poker industry that significant further growth in that sector is intractable, as we have found that additional activities no longer increase the volume of donations by a significant degree.

For this reason, from now on we will limit our activities in the poker industry to the most important opportunities. After our efforts to expand REG’s fundraising model into other industries (daily fantasy sports, e-sports, corporate responsibility, consulting/finance) have failed to take off, we have come to the conclusion that it is not worth pursuing REG’s poker model in other industries. Instead, we now plan to invest more resources in philanthropic advice for major donors (HNW individuals and foundations in Germany and Switzerland).

Poker fundraising: Raising for Effective Giving

Major donors

Tax exemption for international EA charities

Foundational Research Institute

Project goal

The Foundational Research Institute (FRI) does advocacy and research on how to best reduce the suffering of sentient beings in the long-term future. The results are published on our website or research blogs as reports, blog posts, or academic papers. Our focus is on exploring effective, robust, and cooperative strategies to avoid risks of dystopian futures, especially in the context of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

We are focusing on the two following paths to impact:

1) improving our understanding of cause prioritization from a suffering-focused perspective to improve the quality of donation and career recommendations throughout all of EAF’s projects, individual EAs in our network, as well as the EA movement in general;

2) raising awareness of s-risks (or promising interventions that reduce s-risks) to inspire, boost or improve research done in academia or by other EA(-affiliated) organizations.

This year’s notable contributions

Earlier this year, we succeeded in establishing s-risks as a possibly important focus area in the EA movement, we published a report on tranquilism as a main ingredient for a solution to population ethics, and we discovered and investigated multiverse-wide cooperation via coordinated decision-making as a crucial consideration for effective altruists. We also built up expertise in decision theory, published academic papers on AI scenarios and the likelihood of an intelligence explosion, and sharpened our thinking about aspects of AI alignment that are particularly important for the avoidance of worst-case outcomes.

Metrics

For 2018 we plan to experiment with a metric that gives weight to both publication type (peer-reviewed articles weigh more than reports) as well as an impact rating by internal and external peers.

Research areas

Over the next year, the FRI research team is expected to publish research papers, articles, and blog posts on the following topics:

Research outside of FRI

In 2017, we have intensified our efforts to address the above topics outside of FRI too, especially in academic research. For this reason, some FRI researchers are expected to leave the organisation over the course of next year and continue their research academically, while new researchers might join. In the future, FRI hopes to act as a global research network, promoting the regular exchange and coordination between researchers focused on reducing s-risks. FRI itself will continue to carry out research for which there is currently no suitable industry or academic field.

Wild-Animal Suffering Research

New project ideas

The planning process for the coming year has not yet been fully completed. We are currently discussing several ideas for new projects that we may undertake in the coming year. Resources for this process would most likely be redirected from funds otherwise used for our Community and Philanthropy activities (depending on whether the project mainly contributes to talent or funding for the EA community).

Budget

The following provisional budget is planned for next year:

 

Project Budget (CHF) Budget percentage Full-time equivalents Reserves (CHF) in months Funding gap (CHF)
Philanthropy (incl. REG) 229,664 24% 3–4 210,590 11 130,000
Community 268,571 28% 3–4 239,194 11 160,000
Foundational Research Institute 318,188 33% 5–9 417,281 16 60,000
Wild-Animal Suffering Research 137,257 14% 2.5 15,000 1 160,000
Total 953,679 100% 14–19 882,065 11 510,000

 

The definitive budget will be adopted in February 2018 and published on our transparency page.

Use of funds and fundraising objectives

We are currently trying to increase our financial reserves from 11 to 18 months in order to be able to continue our current activities until the next giving season (for comparison: many EA organizations use 24 months). We expect that existing donors will close the funding gap (room for more funding) in Philanthropy (including REG) with a probability of about 40 percent. With Community and FRI, our regular donors are unlikely to close the funding gap completely. Additional donations therefore go a long way in helping us invest less time in fundraising and financial planning, which in turn enables us to concentrate more on our projects and make better use of unexpected promising opportunities.

As always, it is possible to earmark donations for a specific project. Because of fungibility between projects (everyone working at the same office and EAF staff discussing overarching strategies), earmarking may not always make a counterfactual difference, but will frequently do so. It is particularly likely to make a difference in the cases of tax-exempt donation processing or work on development cooperation, which are amongst the first activities we would deprioritize in case of funding shortages or if other projects unexpectedly need additional funding. Please get in touch with us if you are considering making a large donation earmarked towards a specific activity. Non-earmarked donations will most likely be used for Community and FRI or new project ideas. If the funding gap in Philanthropy is greater than expected, we will also use non-earmarked donations for this purpose. Wild-Animal Suffering Research (WASR) has a separate budget funded solely by earmarked funds, and there is no fungibility of donations between WASR and other EAF projects.

Accordingly, we have set ourselves the following fundraising targets:

We thus depend on your financial contribution and hope that we can count on your support this year. As always, we look forward to your questions and critical feedback; in the comments, via email, or anonymously.

Donate to EAF
Read our annual review (English version to be published in a few days)

2 comments

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comment by tobiaspulver · 2017-12-20T16:11:03.573Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

The English version of our annual review is now online: https://ea-foundation.org/blog/review-2017/

If you have any thoughts on our plans, our annual review, or both: We'd love to hear what people think of EAF's work and if there are things you think we could improve, so please feel free to leave a comment here.

comment by Jonas Vollmer · 2018-01-02T22:34:53.028Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Room for more funding update: We've only reached 53% of our minimum target so far (€159k), so we have considerable RFMF at this point. We've extended the deadline of our fundraiser by another 10 days: https://ea-foundation.org/donate/