Charity Redirect - A proposal for a new kind of Effective Altruist organization

post by WilliamKiely · 2015-08-23T15:35:29.717Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · EA · GW · Legacy · 10 comments

UPDATE: Note: This was my first post on this forum and I apparently accidentally published it before finishing writing it, so a few people read it and commented before I got to ask my questions.

Also, my title is inaccurate. Such EA organizations already exist (among them, GiveWell itself, Charity Science, and Giving What You Can).

However, I would still like to emphasize my belief that the EA movement doesn't emphasize enough the value of donating to such "meta-EA charities" rather than donating to the most effective non-meta charities directly.


Most charity fundraisers cause harm because (1) they don't actually increase the total amount of money donated to charity, but rather just shift money from one charity to another and (2) most charities are less effective than the average charity.

However, fundraisers for the most effective charities do a lot of good because they redirect money from less effective charities to charities that have much greater impacts.

In response to the question, "What are you trying to accomplish?" GiveWell says it aims "to direct as much funding as possible of this large pool [of donations given by individual donors] to the best giving opportunities we can find."

But I don't think this is true. GiveWell's function appears to be identifying the best giving opportunities, not doing fundraising for them.

Which organizations are focused on doing fundraising for the most effective charities? Do they exist?

If so, why haven't I heard of them? (UPDATE: I had heard of the three mentioned in the comments.) Why weren't they mentioned in William MacAskill's new book Doing Good Better?

And why haven't any of them made the list of GiveWell's top charities?

It seems to me that it would be significantly better to donate to a fundraising organization that redirects funds to GiveWell's top charities than it would be to donate to GiveWell's top charities directly.

You'd have to take into account what would happen otherwise to be sure, but my initial impression is that this is true.

If I'm wrong about this, I'd very much like to know why.

10 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Joey · 2015-08-23T18:04:05.596Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hey William Kiely. I think this is a great idea and is in fact what Charity Science does. Historically we have raised $9 for ever $1 spent and we raise exclusively for GiveWell recommendations. If you're interested in learning more, I recommend checking out our organizational breakdown page http://www.charityscience.com/organizational-breakdown.html

P.S. We are also looking for volunteers, employees and funding if you are interested in getting involved.

comment by WilliamKiely · 2015-08-24T15:42:30.239Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Awesome, I'm glad to know someone is working on this. I'm definitely going to check it out and see if it makes sense for me to get involved.

Do you have any idea why it isn't widely believed in the EA movement that donating to Charity Science is better than donating to GiveWell's recommendations directly? (Or maybe most EAs do know this, and I just for some reason never heard people emphasizing this.)

comment by Joey · 2015-08-24T17:13:24.793Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

So lots of people in the EA movement do donate to Charity Science. Some reasons others do not 1) They have not heard of Charity Science 2) Charity Science only accepts as much money as we can effectively spend (which historically has been pretty low.) 3) They are not convinced Charity Science will continue to have above 1:1 ratios on money moved. 4) They think other meta EA orgs are as effective or more effective.

I think part of the reason it's not publicized as much as say donating directly to GW charities is for marketing/PR reasons. e.g. Many people who are new to EA might be confused or turned off by the idea of a 100% overhead charity.

comment by WilliamKiely · 2015-08-24T18:22:46.463Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, this is helpful.

I read your organization breakdown page (as well as several of the linked documents) and will be submitting an application in the next week for an internship. Hopefully I can d something to help out.

comment by AGB · 2015-08-23T16:49:25.886Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

This sounds very close to Charity Science

comment by CalebWithers · 2015-08-24T01:15:54.477Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

In addition to Charity Science, Giving What We Can also has this meta charity logic ingrained: https://givingwhatwecan.org/impact

comment by WilliamKiely · 2015-08-24T15:59:05.883Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks.

comment by CalebWithers · 2015-08-25T05:59:04.902Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I feel like Joey's comment here is broadly applicable enough to warrant bringing it top level:

"I think part of the reason [meta-charity is] not publicized as much as say donating directly to GW charities is for marketing/PR reasons. e.g. Many people who are new to EA might be confused or turned off by the idea of a 100% overhead charity."

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-08-24T15:56:47.890Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I also feel like it's unfair to say GiveWell doesn't move money to their top charities after they just closed a $25M grant.

comment by WilliamKiely · 2015-08-24T16:09:24.233Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Okay, point taken. I don't mean to criticize GiveWell. Rather, I meant to point out that it seemed to me that they were more focused on the function of identifying top giving opportunities than the function of directing as much money as possible to said charities. Is this not true? Is GiveWell the best at both, or just the former?