Effective Altruism Funds: Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund donations made to Rethink Priorities

This is an online portal with information on donations that were announced publicly (or have been shared with permission) that were of interest to Vipul Naik. The git repository with the code for this portal, as well as all the underlying data, is available on GitHub. All payment amounts are in current United States dollars (USD). The repository of donations is being seeded with an initial collation by Issa Rice as well as continued contributions from him (see his commits and the contract work page listing all financially compensated contributions to the site) but all responsibility for errors and inaccuracies belongs to Vipul Naik. Current data is preliminary and has not been completely vetted and normalized; if sharing a link to this site or any page on this site, please include the caveat that the data is preliminary (if you want to share without including caveats, please check with Vipul Naik). We expect to have completed the first round of development by the end of March 2023. See the about page for more details. Also of interest: pageview data on analytics.vipulnaik.com, tutorial in README, request for feedback to EA Forum.

Table of contents

Basic donor information

ItemValue
Country United Kingdom
Affiliated organizations (current or former; restricted to potential donees or others relevant to donation decisions)Centre for Effective Altruism
Websitehttps://app.effectivealtruism.org/funds/ea-community
Donations URLhttps://app.effectivealtruism.org/
Regularity with which donor updates donations datairregular
Regularity with which Donations List Website updates donations data (after donor update)irregular
Lag with which donor updates donations datamonths
Lag with which Donations List Website updates donations data (after donor update)days
Data entry method on Donations List WebsiteManual (no scripts used)

Brief history: This is one of four Effective Altruism Funds that are a program of the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA). The creation of the funds was inspired by the success of the EA Giving Group donor-advised fund run by Nick Beckstead, and also by the donor lottery run in December 2016 by Paul Christiano and Carl Shulman (see https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/WvPEitTCM8ueYPeeH/donor-lotteries-demonstration-and-faq (GW, IR) for more). EA Funds were introduced on 2017-02-09 in the post https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/a8eng4PbME85vdoep/introducing-the-ea-funds (GW, IR) and launched on 2017-02-28 in the post http://effective-ahttps://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/iYoSAXhodpxJFwdQz/ea-funds-beta-launch The first round of allocations was announced on 2017-04-20 at https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/MsaS8JKrR8nnxyPkK/update-on-effective-altruism-funds (GW, IR) The funds allocation information appears to have next been updated in November 2017; see https://www.facebook.com/groups/effective.altruists/permalink/1606722932717391/ for more. This particular fund was previously called the Community Fund; in October 2018, the blog post https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/yYHKRgLk9ufjJZn23/announcing-new-ea-funds-management-teams (GW, IR) announced that it was renamed to the Meta Fund to more accurately reflect its use for funding activities (such as cause prioritization) that are "meta" but not necessarily tied to community-building

Brief notes on broad donor philosophy and major focus areas: As the name suggests, the Fund's focus area is "meta" activities related to effective altruism. This includes some activities that directly and explicitly relate to effective altruism, as well as other activities that are related more broadly to promoting a culture of more and smarter philanthropy. It also covers cause prioritization and foundational research work. At inception, the Fund had Nick Beckstead of Open Philanthropy its sole manager. Beckstead stepped down in August 2018, and October 2018, https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/yYHKRgLk9ufjJZn23/announcing-new-ea-funds-management-teams (GW, IR) announces a new management team for the Fund, comprising Luke Ding (chair), Denise Melchin, Matt Wage, Alex Foster, and Tara MacAulay as members, and Nick Beckstead as advisor

Notes on grant decision logistics: Money from the fund is supposed to be granted about thrice a year, with the target months being November, February, and June. Actual grant months may differ from the target months. The amount of money granted with each decision cycle depends on the amount of money available in the Fund as well as on the available donation opportunities. Grant applications can be submitted any time; any submitted applications will be considered prior to the next grant round (each grant round has a deadline by which applications must be submitted to be considered)

Notes on grant publication logistics: Grant details are published on the EA Funds website, and linked to from the Fund page. Each grant is accompanied by a brief description of the grantee's work (and hence, the intended use of funds) as well as reasons the grantee was considered impressive

Notes on grant financing: Money in the Meta Fund only includes funds explicitly donated for that Fund. In each grant round, the amount of money that can be allocated is limited by the balance available in the fund at that time

This entity is also a donee.

Full donor page for donor Effective Altruism Funds: Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund

Basic donee information

ItemValue
Country United States
Websitehttp://rethinkpriorities.org/
Key peopleMarcus A. Davis|Peter Hurford
Launch date2018-03-02

Full donee page for donee Rethink Priorities

Donor–donee relationship

Item Value

Donor–donee donation statistics

Cause areaCountMedianMeanMinimum10th percentile 20th percentile 30th percentile 40th percentile 50th percentile 60th percentile 70th percentile 80th percentile 90th percentile Maximum
Overall 4 12,000 71,132 10,000 10,000 10,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 14,228 14,228 248,300 248,300 248,300
Cause prioritization 3 12,000 90,100 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 248,300 248,300 248,300 248,300
Effective altruism 1 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228 14,228

Donation amounts by cause area and year

If you hover over a cell for a given cause area and year, you will get a tooltip with the number of donees and the number of donations.

Note: Cause area classification used here may not match that used by donor for all cases.

Cause area Number of donations Total 2021 2019
Cause prioritization (filter this donor) 3 270,300.00 248,300.00 22,000.00
Effective altruism (filter this donor) 1 14,228.00 14,228.00 0.00
Total 4 284,528.00 262,528.00 22,000.00

Graph of spending by cause area and year (incremental, not cumulative)

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Graph of spending by cause area and year (cumulative)

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Full list of donations in reverse chronological order (4 donations)

Graph of all donations, showing the timeframe of donations

Graph of donations and their timeframes
Amount (current USD)Amount rank (out of 4)Donation dateCause areaURLInfluencerNotes
14,228.0022021-07Effective altruism/research guidancehttps://funds.effectivealtruism.org/funds/payouts/may-august-2021-ea-infrastructure-fund-grantsMichelle Hutchinson Michael Aird Max Daniel Buck Shlegeris Chi Nguyen Donation process: Part of a set of grants that were decided between May and August 2021. This includes grant applications from the Q2 grant cycle as well as rolling applications since then; the exact timing of this particular grant is not stated.

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Michelle Hutchinson's writeup on the grant on the grant page says: "In the last round, we partially funded Rethink Priorities’ internship programme. They had a stronger applicant pool than expected and wanted to take on more people, so this grant is a small top-up to our previous grant."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: Likely the same reasons apply as for the original grant, that https://funds.effectivealtruism.org/funds/payouts/may-2021-ea-infrastructure-fund-grants#rethink-priorities-248300 documents.

Donor reason for donating that amount (rather than a bigger or smaller amount): The amount is decided based on the funds needed for hiring the additional interns over the original budget.
Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 0.84%

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing likely determined by the internship application process and identification of promising applications.
248,300.0012021-04-01Cause prioritizationhttps://funds.effectivealtruism.org/funds/payouts/may-2021-ea-infrastructure-fund-grantsMichelle Hutchinson Buck Shlegeris Max Daniel Ben Kuhn Donation process: Part of the April 2021 EA Infrastructure Fund grants round (based on applications in Q1 2021). The grant page says: "Total grants: $1,221,178 (assuming all grantees accept the full grants); Number of grants: 26; Number of applications (excluding desk rejections): 58. [...] This is the first grant round led by the EAIF’s new committee, consisting of Buck Shlegeris, Max Daniel, Michelle Hutchinson, and Ben Kuhn as a guest fund manager, with Jonas Vollmer temporarily taking on chairperson duties, advising, and voting consultatively on grants."

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: The grant page says: "Rethink Priorities is a research organization working on (largely empirical) questions related to how to do the most good, including questions like what moral weights we should assign to different animal species, or understanding what the current limitations of forecasting mean for longtermism. Roughly half of this grant supports 9 interns (7 FTE), with the main aim of training them in empirical impact-focused research. [...] The second half of the grant goes toward growing Rethink’s capacity to conduct research on EA movement strategy. The team focuses on running surveys, aimed both at EAs and the broader public. The types of research this funding will enable include getting a better sense of how many people in the broader public are aware of and open to EA."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: The grant page says: "Our perception is that it would be useful to have more of this research done and that there currently aren’t many mentors who can help people learn to do it. Rethink Priorities has some experience of successfully supporting EA researchers to skill up. The case study of Luisa Rodriguez seemed compelling to us: she started out doing full-time EA research for Rethink Priorities, went on to become a research assistant for William MacAskill's forthcoming book about longtermism, and plans to work as a researcher at 80,000 Hours. Luisa thinks it's unlikely she would have become a full-time EA researcher if she hadn't received the opportunity to train up at Rethink Priorities. [For the second purpose of the grant] This research seems useful for planning how much and what kinds of EA outreach to do. For example, a number of people we asked found RP’s survey on longtermism useful."

Donor retrospective of the donation: A small top-up grant of $14,228 is announced at https://funds.effectivealtruism.org/funds/payouts/may-august-2021-ea-infrastructure-fund-grants as part of the May to August 2021 grants.

Other notes: The grant page says, talking of the EA-related surveys portion of the grant: "a funding model we considered suggesting was EAIF paying for specific pieces of research ‘commissioned’ by groups such as CEA. This model would have the benefit that the group commissioning the research would be responsible for applying for the funding, and so the onus would be on them to make sure they would use the research generated. On the other hand, we hope that this type of research will be useful to many different groups, including ones like local groups who typically don’t have much funding. We therefore decided in favor of approving this funding application as is. We’d still be interested in continued close collaborations between RP and the groups who will be using the research, such as CEA and local EA groups.". Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 20.33%.
12,000.0032019-08-23Cause prioritizationhttps://app.effectivealtruism.org/funds/ea-community/payouts/3pxoLG7aRWtETC1lECC6LKLuke Ding Alex Foster Denise Melchin Matt Wage Donation process: Part of the July 2019 EA Meta Fund grants round. The grant page says: "7 of the 9 grantees in this round applied through this process." From the description, it appears that Rethink Priorities is one of the 7 grantees who applied

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant covers two projects: (1) geopolitical implications of climate change on mass migration (2) cost-effectiveness of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Donor reason for selecting the donee: The grant page references the March 2019 grant https://app.effectivealtruism.org/funds/ea-community/payouts/1hVfcvrzRbpXUWYht4bu3b and says: "we believe the reasons behind this grant still stand." Further: "We noted in the previous round that we expect there is particular value in Rethink Priorities undertaking commissioned research into areas that are neglected by other researchers. In this round, Rethink Priorities applied for funding to support two specific research projects, both of which were suggested by researchers at other high-impact organizations, and require collaboration with those researchers. We view this as an indication that these projects will provide value."

Donor reason for donating that amount (rather than a bigger or smaller amount): Likely based on amount requested by donee and needed for the two projects
Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 2.70%

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round, also by the readiness of these projects to be funded
10,000.0042019-03-07Cause prioritization/Animal welfarehttps://app.effectivealtruism.org/funds/ea-community/payouts/1hVfcvrzRbpXUWYht4bu3bLuke Ding Alex Foster Denise Melchin Matt Wage Tara MacAulay Donation process: This is part of the March 2019 grant round from the EA Meta Fund, comprising "a mixture of larger grants to more established meta groups and smaller grants to fund both younger organizations and specific projects." The grant to 80,000 Hours falls under "younger organizations"

Intended use of funds (category): Organizational general support

Intended use of funds: The grant page says: "They [Rethink Priorities] intend to continue their focus on animal welfare research in 2019, and cover other areas such as improving mental health, strengthening the EA movement, reducing catastrophic risks, and improving the long-term future."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: Donor lists these reasons on the grant page: (1) Well-executed cause prioritisation research is very valuable. (2) Neutral-to-positive impression of published research by Rethink Priorities (RP). (3) Positive impression of adaptiveness and responsiveness to feedback of RP. (4) Exploratoryr value to encourage fund managers and others to investigate RP work. (5) Positive impression of RP's idea of "undertaking commissioned research into neglected areas, where there is a specific need for independent evaluation." (6) Potential for RP to "act as a talent pipeline and provide valuable training, especially as future capacity for EA philanthropic advisory." (7) Unfilled funding gap of $120k for 2019

Donor reason for donating that amount (rather than a bigger or smaller amount): The amount is much less than the funding gap of $120,000 for 2019. It is likely selected to be this small based on the experimental nature of the grant
Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 1.95%

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round, as well as grantee's trajectory (it has only recently started publishing research)

Donor retrospective of the donation: The donor would make a followup grant of $12,000 in the July 2019 grant round, and continue to stand by the reasoning motivating the first grant