Announcing the first International Effective Giving Day (November 30, 2020) 2020-11-13T10:34:27.826Z
Introducing Ayuda Efectiva 2020-11-12T13:08:26.715Z


Comment by pmelchor on Why EA groups should not use “Effective Altruism” in their name. · 2021-03-08T12:40:20.041Z · EA · GW

My experience in business matches two of the points that Catherine makes above:

My guess is that it is probably better to have a not-perfect name that everyone uses, than a whole variety of different names.


Another cost is that there are people who hear "effective altruism" several times in several places before  deciding to learn more/ get involved, so each exposure of that name (as long as it is positive!) helps.

My current view is that:

  1. Consistent usage can be much more relevent for a brand's success than its intrinsic characteristics.  I can imagine the team at early-days Google discussing whether they should rebrand to something easier to write for X-language-speakers and more understandable for the average user.
  2. It is easy to overestimate the potential of an imaginary, shiny new brand and underestimate the value of your current imperfect brand. This may be one of those things that you only notice when it is no longer there (e.g. people leave a company believing that it was "just and empty shell"and that they were what made it valuable... only to find out that it is much harder to get clients when that well-known logo is no longer on your slides).

If anything, I would say that one of the weaknesses of Effective Altruism (purely from a branding perspective) is that its brand landscape is already super-diverse (e.g. there is GiveWell, ACE, Open Phil, Founders Pledge, GWWC, 80,000 Hours, etc., etc. each pushing their own brand). This does make sense since each of the organizations I mention is applying effective altruism to a particular space or situation. However, when it comes to local groups, I tend to think that the EA movement as a whole has much more to gain from consistency.

Ben mentions in his comment how independent brands can reduce brand risk for EA, which is true. However, I think they can also reduce brand potential for EA (this is more of a side note, but I think that  whenever we consider minimizing reputational risks we should also consider the opportunity costs of not doing something or doing it in the cautious-but-probably-less-impactful version).

I think that if we want to make the EA brand better (more meaningful, attractive, easily recognizable, etc.), simply using it consistently will go a long way.

Comment by pmelchor on Introducing Ayuda Efectiva · 2021-02-10T15:56:55.199Z · EA · GW

I checked with our tax advisors and the situation is more or less what I described:

  • There is an EU court ruling that says donations to non-profits in other member states should be tax-deductible.
  • However, Spain's laws have not been adapted to account for that.
  • If you want to fight for the deduction, you have to go to court.

It seems that regranting —as we are doing in Ayuda Efectiva— is the safe way to go for now.

Comment by pmelchor on Introducing Ayuda Efectiva · 2021-02-09T19:15:24.181Z · EA · GW

Hi Jan-Willem, thanks for the info!

I am interested in learning more about DonerEffectief: I will DM you about that.

As for EU-wide deductibility, last time I checked it was one of those cases where:

  1. EU rules establish something.
  2. The countries' tax authorities  are not happy about it.
  3. National rules make sure the process is as hellish as possible so that only heroes can push through. 

I am quite sure that is still the case in Spain, but I will use this as a nudge to look into it again :-)

Comment by pmelchor on Introducing Ayuda Efectiva · 2020-11-12T18:35:26.157Z · EA · GW

Devon, thanks for the comment!

On that topic, do you or anyone else know of other such national level projects, aside from Effektiv Spenden  (where I do some work) in Germany and RC Forward in Canada?

I know of in Norway and Effective Altruism Australia.

Although I imagine there are many nuances of each country's bureaucracy, it could make sense to template out the operational aspects that likely don't differ from country to country.

Certainly. I had a brief conversation with Basti and Jack Lewars on this. I am very skeptical about large and complex projects like migrating to the same ERP but would be happy to explore more modest opportunities to avoid repeatedly reinventing the wheel :-)

What kind of fixed costs are we talking about, if you don't mind sharing? If they were too low, I'd be a bit concerned that it could hamper your multiplier. How are you approaching fundraising?

Fair concern and you are right: "the lowest possible fixed costs" can mean anything :-). In our case, we are looking at costs of less than 10K €/month for 2021. The plan is to bootstrap this (which we can afford) until we can show impact. The metric we will be focusing on is what The Life You Can Save calls leverage ratio: money moved expressed as a multiple of operating expenses. If you are interested in getting into the weeds, I'd be happy to chat :-)  

Comment by pmelchor on Introducing Ayuda Efectiva · 2020-11-12T13:40:03.441Z · EA · GW

I made a minor edit to clarify a couple of points in "How you can help".

Comment by pmelchor on Introducing Probably Good: A New Career Guidance Organization · 2020-11-06T17:22:45.068Z · EA · GW

Yes, thanks for that: I can see the broader strategic implications. I actually think the equivalent to "but actually may lead to more people joining top priority paths in the focus areas of existing career orgs in the long run" may also be true in the effective giving space.

Comment by pmelchor on Introducing Probably Good: A New Career Guidance Organization · 2020-11-06T16:19:09.724Z · EA · GW

Sella, thanks for the post. I think this is a very interesting idea (and I am guessing that other non-US/UK EA groups may think so as well). I see it as doing relative optimization in a much larger space rather than absolute optimization within a small group (people who actually have a chance of going into 80,000 Hours's highest-impact paths).

In that sense, Probably Good reminds me of what Elijah explained here about what the ImpactMatters team is trying to do under their new roof at Charity Navigator:

Certainly in typical EA terms, many of the nonprofits that are analyzed are not the most cost-effective. But we also know that standard EA nonprofits are a fraction of the $300 bil nonprofit sector, and there is a portion of that money that has high intra-cause elasticity but low inter-cause elasticity. Impact analysis could be a way of shifting that money, yielding very cost-effective returns [...]

Comment by pmelchor on List of EA-related organisations · 2020-10-22T10:10:56.986Z · EA · GW

Thanks! Yes, it is great to see a lot of doers out there :-)

Comment by pmelchor on List of EA-related organisations · 2020-10-21T12:36:26.323Z · EA · GW

Jamie, thanks for the list! Can you please add Ayuda Efectiva to the Infrastructure section? Suggested text:

"Ayuda Efectiva promotes effective giving in Spain. Their Global Health Fund routes donations to a selection of GiveWell's recommended charities, providing tax deductibility for Spanish donors. They plan to launch similar funds for other cause areas in the near future."


Comment by pmelchor on EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include? · 2019-09-30T11:31:59.442Z · EA · GW

For cause selection (and the INT model), I find this 80K article more accessible and explanatory than most:

Comment by pmelchor on EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include? · 2019-09-30T11:22:40.469Z · EA · GW

For the introduction, I liked and shared Will MacAskill's text for Norton Introduction to Ethics:

Comment by pmelchor on Guide to Successful Community 1-1s · 2019-01-11T11:49:03.235Z · EA · GW

Huw, Darius, excellent post!

One question:

sometimes there are issues that people still want to discuss, such as whether these interventions neglect systemic change

What are your go-to resources for answering concerns about neglecting systemic change? Are there any particular articles or posts you point people to?


Comment by pmelchor on Near-Term Effective Altruism Discord · 2018-09-11T07:32:00.005Z · EA · GW

I am personally very interested in cause areas like global poverty, so it is great to see more people wanting to discuss the related issues in depth.

Nevertheless, I strongly support the definition of EA as a question (how can we use our resources to help others the most?) and that makes me not want to tag myself as a "[enter category here] EA" (e.g. "near-term EA", "far-future EA"...).

In practical terms, the above leads me to enjoy my views being challenged by people who have come to different conclusions and I tend to favour a "portfolio approach" to doing good, somewhat along the lines of Open Phil's "worldview diversification".

Regarding discussion, there should be great spaces for both the meta topics and the cause-specific ones. Wouldn't it be ideal if we could host all those discussions under the same roof? Maybe this thread can be used as an input for the upcoming EA Forum 2.0. The feature request would be something like "make it easy to host and find worldview-specific discussions".

Comment by pmelchor on Problems with EA representativeness and how to solve it · 2018-08-15T14:46:04.366Z · EA · GW

Thanks, Carl. I fully agree: if we are convinced it is essential that we act now to counter existential risks, we must definitely do that.

My question is more theoretical (feel free to not continue the exchange if you find this less interesting). Imagine we lived in a world just like ours but where the development of AI, global pandemics, etc. are just not possible: for whatever reason, those huge risks are just not there. An argument in favour of weighting the long-term future heavily could still be valid (there could be many more people alive in the future and therefore a great potential for either flourishing or suffering). But how should we weight that against the responsibility to help people alive today, since we are the only ones who can do it (future generations will not be able to replace us in that role)?

Comment by pmelchor on Problems with EA representativeness and how to solve it · 2018-08-11T22:45:31.149Z · EA · GW

I think there is an 11th reason why someone may want to work on near-term causes: while we may be replaceable by the next generations when it comes to working on the long-term future, we are irreplaceable when it comes to helping people / sentient beings who are alive today. In other words: influencing what may happen 100 years from now can be done by us, our children, our grand-children and so on; however, only we can help say the 700 million people living in extreme poverty today.

I have not come across the counter-arguments for this one: has it been discussed on previous posts or related material? Or maybe it is a basic question in moral philosophy 101 and I am just not knowledgeable enough :-)

Comment by pmelchor on Concrete Ways to Reduce Risks of Value Drift and Lifestyle Drift · 2018-05-11T09:28:36.444Z · EA · GW

Good points. If I were doing a write up on this subject it would be something like this:

"As the years go by, you will likely go through stages during which you cannot commit as much time or other resources to EA. This is natural and you should not interpret lower-commitment stages as failures: the goal is to maximize your lifetime contributions and that will require balancing EA with other goals and demands. However, there is a risk that you may drift away from EA permanently if your engagement is too low for a long period of time. Here are some tools you can use to prevent that from happening:"

Comment by pmelchor on Concrete Ways to Reduce Risks of Value Drift and Lifestyle Drift · 2018-05-10T17:50:11.910Z · EA · GW

Great posts, Joey and Darius!

I'd like to introduce a few considerations as an "older" EA (I am 43 now) :

  • Scope of measurement: Joey’s post was based on 5 year data. As Joey mentioned, “it would take a long time to get good data”. However, it may well be that expanding the time scope would yield very different results. It is possible that a graph plotting a typical EA’s degree of involvement/commitment with the movement would not look like a horizontal line but rather like a zigzag. I base this on purely anecdotal evidence, but I have seen many people (including myself) recover interests, hobbies, passions, etc. once their children are older. I am quite new to the movement, but there is no way that 10 years ago I would have put in the time I am now devoting to EA. If I had started my involvement in college —supposing EA had been around—, you could have seen a sharp decline during my thirties (and tag that as value drift)… without knowing there would be a sharp increase in my forties.

  • Expectations: This is related to my previous point. Is it optimal to expect a constant involvement/commitment with the movement? As EAs, we should think of maximizing our lifetime contributions. Keeping the initial engagement levels constant sounds good in theory, but it may not be the best strategy in the long run (e.g. potentially leading to burnout, etc). Maybe we should think of “engagement fluctuations” as something natural and to be expected instead of something dangerous that must be fought against.

  • EA interaction styles: If and as the median age of the community goes up, we may need to adapt the ways in which we interact (or rather add to the existing ones). It can be much harder for people with full-time jobs and children to attend regular meetings or late afternoon “socials”. How can we make it easier for people that have very strong demands on their time to stay involved without feeling that they are missing out or that they just can’t cope with everything? I don’t have an answer right now, but I think this is worth exploring.

The overall idea here is that instead of fighting an uneven involvement/commitment across time it may be better to actually plan for it and find ways of accommodating it within a “lifetime contribution strategy”. It may well be that there is a minimum threshold below which people completely abandon EA. If that it so I suggest we think of ways of making it easy for people to stay above that threshold at times when other parts of their lives are especially demanding.