From Darren Margolias: I'm the Executive Director of Beast Philanthropy, the charity founded by the world’s most popular YouTuber MrBeast. 

We recently collaborated with GiveDirectly on the video below. You can read background the project from our LinkedIn here and here (plus GiveDirectly's blog)


On Thursday, July 18th I'll be recording a video AMA with CEA's Emma Richter. Her questions will come from you, and we'll post the video and transcript here afterwards.

Please post your questions as comments to this post and upvote the questions you’d like me to answer most. Emma and I will do our best to get to as many as we can. 

Feel free to ask anything you'd like to know about Beast Philanthropy's process, projects, and goals! 

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Would Jimmy personally (or the business) ever consider taking a public pledge to give to effective charities, like the 🔸 10% Pledge - a pledge to donate at least 10% of income until you retire to the organisations that can most improve the lives of others? 

Prominent pledgers like podcaster Sam Harris, youtuber Ali Abdaal, author and historian Rutger Bregman amongst others have raised awareness of the pledges we offer, as well as the principles of effective charities - and influenced more than 1500 people to take a pledge to give, which we estimate will generate over $100m USD of effective donations over time.

Another prominent pledger is Chris Anderson, the head of TED, who took the pledge this year and wrote about it in his new book Infectious Generosity.

https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/blog/press-release-head-of-ted-chris-anderson-signs-new-wealth-pledge-to-give-at-least-2-5-of-wealth-to-high-impact-charities-each-year

I'll add this might well be a very doable committment as given this GiveDirectly donation and others of his, he might be already doing it or pretty close...

Is there anything we can do to help? 

People

1. Anyone you'd like an introduction to?
2. Any roles you're having a hard time filling?
3. If you had 100 Oxford graduates dying to help you, what tasks might you give them?

Money

5. Any videos you'd like to make, that help people in non-western countries, that aren't quite commercially viable enough? How larger donation would push them over the line?
6. What would you do if you had additional $100k to spend on global poverty videos? 

Expertise

7.  What are the biggest challenges you're facing right now and what are your plans for tackling them?
8. Got any issues that a very skilled volunteer (e.g. professional with 5+ years experience) could help with?
9. Do you have any big unanswered questions that meaningfully affect your philanthropy?

Thank you for your work and for Jimmy's willingness to take hits for giving people resources directly. It feels like outside of EA, helping poorer people isn't seen as that much more effective than helping people in the US and many philanthropists stick to supporting US people. Thanks to Jimmy for sticking his neck out here, it does feel like it makes a difference to the Discourse.

Do you think there is a trade-off between finding the best ways to help people and making the best videos? If so, how do you navigate it?

PS- I thought this was more of a hard trade-off before seeing your GiveDirectly video. I was surprised at how great the video was at explaining a less obvious giving opportunity (e.g. harder to explain than "these people needed houses so we built them houses"). So overall I'm pretty optimistic that you can find a good equilibrium between good videos and good uses of charitable money. 

What is Beast Philanthropy's approach to finding giving opportunities?

Piggybacking off this:

  • How do you evaluate an opportunity once you have it?
  • How do you decide whether to invite Jimmy to make something a main channel video vs a Beast Philanthropy video?
  • What kinds of charities perform the best in terms of views? What about funds raised? (Do either of these metrics influence what charities you pick?)

While your GiveDirectly video already has 19 million views the fundraiser (https://www.givedirectly.org/beast/) so far has only received 426 donations and has barely reached 1/3 of it's goal. To be honest that is less than I expected. Do you feel the same and more generally what do you think are the challenges when it comes to turning your massive audience into a lot of donations?

I just want to note that the vast majority of the money moved is likely to be of the ad revenues from the videos (on the channel they write that they'd donate 100% of ad revenue). Jimmy sometimes spends millions one a single video, and the ad revenues of his videos are dozens of million. 

Unclear -- revenue per view varies widely but 2 cents per view seems in the ballpark for YouTube general content. Close enough for a BOTEC at least. This video has 20M views, so an estimated $400K in ad revenue. There's also a sponsor, revenue unknown.

It's unclear how much the exposure to 20M viewers is worth for GiveDirectly, but my guesses would be within an OOM of the ad/sponsor revenue. Rationale: given that YouTube takes about half of ad revenue in general, the advertiser seems to valued reaching the average YouTube watcher at ~4 cents, and the video can be seen as akin to an extended-length promoted ad and so is probably worth several times that.

I'm not going to do this because of time constraints, but if you really want to know you can run google ads on youtube on just Beast Philantropy videos and get a CPV and you'd know the worth of that video according to advertisers (who probably have a similar target audience to beast philanthropy watchers). Question is if givedirectly's TA is the Beast Philanthropy TA. My best guess is that it's not because most donors are older, going to spend less time watching youtube videos and would watch other content than this, so you'd have to discount the CPV with whatever you think is best. If I would do it I would probably discount it with 50-75% and value this at 1-2 cents per view for givedirectly, so 200-400K worth for givedirectly. 

It's hard to figure out the discount (or premium) rate for GiveDirectly vis-a-vis an advertiser here. I agree that the demographic mix would likely warrant a reduction in value. On the other hand, there's at least some selection for interest in philanthropy based on the user clicking on the video (and it having only a fraction of the views of an average Mr. Beast video). Moreover, GiveDirectly is getting something that seems much more valuable: an extended favorable presentation from a source who is trusted by his viewers. The advertiser is getting 6-20 seconds on a non-skippable ad -- and viewers may have some level of default skepticism toward advertisements.

Sorry I missed that point: a 20 minute video might indeed be significantly higher CPV and because it's not an ad might be favoured higher on that point too. 

All in all it's hard to say. I suppose GD will have some numbers on increased traffic and increased donations versus baseline, but this will be quite hard to measure correctly even with tracking in place. 

Relatedly, how does one guard against the risk of viewers feeling good about themselves for watching / feeling they did their part by watching a video?  If the viewer walks away from the video feeling like that, and takes no action, they may be less likely to do something actually meaningful because they feel they "did their part" by becoming educated / causing a few cents to go to Beast Philanthropy's work. Thus there is at least some possibility that watching the video was net negative!

Would you consider doing work with @GiveWell to deliver bednets or give vitamin A supplementation?

edited to correct an error, thanks @Jason 

(Do you mean Vitamin A -- https://www.givewell.org/charities/helen-keller-international? The B vitamins are water-soluble, with the body only being able to absorb a relatively "normal" amount per day in most instances. So I think that supplements are a harder approach for Vitamin B when compared to, e.g., food fortification approaches).

Sorry, my bad. Corrected.

After watching Darren's recent talk, I'm more curious to hear what he thinks about GiveWell's analysis of water quality interventions, e.g. Evidence Action's Dispensers for Safe Water program.

How did Beast Philanthropy decide what to focus on for your next water security project?

Can I suggest that Jimmy and Mark Rober work on another fundraising campaign to raise a million dollars for GiveDirectly, perhaps after Team Trees and Team Seas you could call it Teem Fees? 

Agreed on building on those wildly successful campaigns that each raised tens of millions:[1]

Team Disease: GiveWell
Team Bees: Good Food Institute/Clean Air Task Force/Giving Green/Founders Pledge

  1. ^
  • Is there a funding breakdown anywhere? That is, where does all the money actually come from? (Feastables sales, advertising deals, donations, etc.) What's the ROI of the average video on Mr. Beast's main channel, where he has participants compete for some large cash prize? How real are these prizes; do participants actually walk away with that much in winnings, or is that just for show and they're actually getting less?
  • For the larger scale projects, like the "built 100 houses" and "built 100 wells", is there a follow-up with the affected people afterwards to see whether there was any long-term benefit? How are these goals decided on?
  • Would you ever consider doing a video on factory farmed animal welfare? I understand that this might come with reputational concerns, since people don't like being reminded of the cruelty that they're paying for with their food money, but it could also do outsized good by making people aware of a cause area they didn't previously realize was an issue. Everyone already knows there are starving children in Africa, but many people don't realize how bad factory farming is. Even if the video convinces just 0.1% of viewers to eat less meat, that could easily outweigh every other donation Mr. Beast Philanthropy has ever made.
  • Mr. Beast has done some videos that border on psychological experiments, like the "trapped 100 people" video. Would he be interested in doing more of those that are similar to classic ethical thought experiments? Obviously he can't tie people to train tracks, but there are plenty of interesting experiments that involve only giving people stuff under certain conditions, like putting people in a prisoner's dilemma for money, or Kavka's toxin puzzle using a human judge, or even just something as simple as making participants choose between giving $1000 to one person who's standing in front of them vs. $100,000 to 100 people in poverty. There are all sorts of interesting video ideas that could also get people interested in moral philosophy.

Currently Beast Philanthropy's approach is pretty scattershot - mainly focused on helping people directly in a manner that can be turned into videos. This makes sense, given your context.

Is there a plan to scale previous interventions up?

If so, how will you decide which?

Can someone share a link to the interview? I can't find it anywhere.

When & where can I watch the video?

Have you considered coordinating your massive audience to achieve some political outcome, e.g., repealing the Jones act?

What is the rough amount Beast Philanthropy is planning to give out yearly?

Kudos on the Give Directly video!

Here is a chaser: How can the EA community be useful to you in helping you do more good? Are there any bottlenecks you have in doing more of this stuff that could be solved with a 10k strong but weakly coordinated community? In the hypothetical extreme where you Darren, or Mr Beast, were made king of EA for a week, or for a year, what would you do with that?

What advice do you have to other filmmakers who are trying to spread ideals of effective charity on YouTube? What should they focus on?

I would definitely understand if you felt that giving areas outside of short term, human centered philanthropy feels riskier or unrelated to your brand image.

I'm wondering however, in what conditions would you plan to engage in animal philanthropy, e.g. the open wings alliance? In a parallel world where this is something you regularly do, what happened for you to do it?

Similarly, what would be needed for you to engage in messaging about more abstract cause areas, such as AI risk/ethics or biosecurity (if you feel convinced by any)?

I can see at least three somewhat overlapping potential paths to impact for Beast Philanthropy:

  • Advertisers and sponsors pay, you use the money to do stuff (and make videos about it);
  • Viewers donate to Beast Philanthropy, which serves as a grantmaker of sorts -- in other words, they delegate some of their charitable decisionmaking to you; and
  • Through the videos, viewers are connected to the featured charities, with whom they go on to form relationships that lead to direct-to-charity donations.

Of course, there are probably other paths I haven't thought of, too! I can see advantages and drawbacks to all three, and can also imagine that each pathway might call for different strategical and tactical choices.

What, in your mind, is the relative importance of these different pathways to impact? And to the extent you think there is tension amongst them, how do you navigate that tension?

Hey Darren, thanks for doing this AMA — and thanks for doing your part to steer money to such a valuably and critically important cause.

Can you describe a bit about the decision-making process at Beast Philanthropy? More to the point, what would an optimal decision-making process look like, in your view? e.g. how would you use research, how would you balance giving locally vs globally, think about doing the most good possible (or constraining that in some way), etc?

As economic growth in developing countries is generally correlated to increased meat consumption and the current trend in Africa (where Give Directly does cash transfers) is the rapid expansion of factory farming, how you factoring the welfare of these farmed animals into your decision-making?

Is there some sort of offset donation to animal/plant-based food charities you would consider making? Do you have a theory of change where economic growth in these regions will turn out to  somehow benefit animals downstream?

One of the things I found extraordinary about MrBeast videos was how it seems like viewers come for the extreme content on the thumbnail, and then stay to see the details of how exactly people succeed at doing extraordinary things.

On an economic basis, it looks like it scales really well to find ways to do really big things (unambiguously net positive) that you can also bundle into an entertainment product that also inspires other people. I don't know what the median viewer would think of this, but I found it really vivid to see the videos "ramp up" with more and more people getting helped per minute of the video.

Have you thought of other ways you could set up something where the complexity of the situation or the number people helped gets "ramped up" over the course of the video, or where the subjects of the story find increasingly extraordinary ways to overcome increasingly extraordinary challenges? Showing people shine brightly, being their best self and then winning for it, seems to be a common theme for the channel.

Many of the most cost-effective & scale-able interventions are preventative, like child immunizations in globally poor areas. Unfortunately preventative work usually isn’t as flashy, like there isn’t a lot of fan-fare or striking event when in 6 months a vaccinated child doesn’t get malaria.

In what ways might the Mr. Beast team or others creatively work through/around this challenge to make highly-effective preventative work more compelling?

An excerpt from your website. (which I love)

we aim to teach an entire generation to care a little bit more than the generations before them and to truly have an impact on the world, through the actions that we inspire. We are making kindness viral! 

What are your insights on your main target audience generation alpha/zoomer? What are your quantitative goals and/or how do you measure your success?

Not really a question but...  if you guys ever released a piece of merch that was insanely expensive but most of the cost went to charity (e.g. some special edition $3000 Mr Beast branded Tshirt where you guys give 3k to GiveDirectly for every unit sold), I'd wanna buy them for all my friends.

Given that there are vastly more animals than humans in this world, and that effective farmed animal welfare interventions can have an enormous positive impact, have you considered directing more of your philanthropic efforts towards effective animal charities? You can see the support for the cost-effectiveness of these interventions in the recent post "Open Phil Should Allocate Most Neartermist Funding to Animal Welfare"?

Thanks for the great video! I think it did a great job at bringing the usual MrBeast emotional content to a charity whose impact is difficult to film.

Where does Beast Philanthropy get its funding from? Is it just revenue from BP videos (incl. Sponsors), or money from MrBeast, or also other philanthropists?

What issues does Jimmy care about that he might like to use his philanthropy to support?

Hi Darren, this is such a great initiative (and you are so good at balancing grain on your head)! What other causes/interventions is Beast Philanthropy interested in, and is there a way for organizations to apply or get on your radar in some way? 

Given Mr. Beast's history of making videos involving personal physical challenges and shocking titles, an impactful video could be "I donated my kidney to a stranger"

Are you all interested in making content or doing altruism-focused work about AI or AI Safety? 

I'll toss out that a lot of folks in the Effective Altruism-adjacent sphere are involved in efforts to make future AI systems safe and beneficial for humanity. If you all are interested in producing content or making a difference around artificial intelligence or AI Safety, there are plenty of people who would be happy to help you e.g., better understand the key ideas, how to convey them, understand funding gaps in the ecosystem, etc. I, for one, would be happy to help with this — I think mitigating extinction risks from advanced AI systems is one of the best opportunities to improve the world, although it's quite different from standard philanthropy. PS I was subscribed to Jimmy back at ~10k :) 

(How) Do you think about cost-effectiveness when deciding which projects to fund and videos to create, especially since cost-effectiveness and virality might not necessarily go together? If cost-effectiveness per se is not a metric you use to evaluate charitable projects, what other factors do you consider instead?

The videos on your youtube channel appear to range a lot in the cost effectiveness of their impact, but the active campaigns section of BeastPhilanthropy.org mostly highlights projects helping people in poor countries, so it seems likely that these projects are some of the more cost-effective ones you have done. Is this deliberate?

How do you think about the mission of BeastPhilanthropy (both the youtube channel and charitable organization)? How much is it about generating awareness (and viewer donations) towards particular worthy causes vs. being a vehicle for Mr. Beast/Jimmy's personal philanthropy?

I'm glad this happened. An additional 300k USD going to some of the world's poorest is an amazing thing, worthy of praise and applause. Thank you for doing this. That said:

What are the economics of the whole production? Eg -- how much was paid in flights, video work, editing, staff, translators, bribes, transport, expenses etc? -- how much more in donations is expected to be generated from this? -- (and do these two cancel out?)

I'm keen to understand whether big YouTube productions are more effective than similar-sized silent donations. If yes, it could be a good thing to pitch to all manner of content creators.

Separately -- how much, if any, revenue is expected from this? What will that revenue be used for?

Would you consider more work & content in nutrition for pregnant mothers & developing children in globally poor regions?

-Multi-micronutrient & calcium supplementation & education for pregnant mothers to prevent still-births/early-births/underweight-births.

-Complementary feeding supplies & education for families with infants to prevent stunting.

-SQ-LNS (https://www.unicef.org/documents/nutrition/SQLNS-Guidance) distribution to prevent malnutrition in early childhood.

Research presented in the “Best Things First” book (https://lomborg.com/best-things-first) estimate a benefit of $14-$24 for every $1 spent on these interventions in globally poor regions.

Thoughts on how to support education and at what level? I'd be interested in an answer to any one of these issues:
- the standard model for education came out of 19th-century thinking about factory work; do we have an idea what modern, supportive, and effective education looks like? Especially if funding tells people how to organize a school / curriculum.
- costs have made free-tuition college less viable in the UK and US (see: Cooper Union, CUNY);  thoughts on helping colleges, individual degree programs, online masters (Georgia Tech), or alternative education to offer / finance free tuition?
- I attended a Python conference in Zimbabwe. There are more CS grads than jobs, so even the young people who had resources to study in university and skills to work in tech, were thinking about leaving the country, or how to get paid fairly and securely for remote work. If this tracks with anything that you're looking into with education, curious to hear your thoughts.

An add on to that: If you've explored education, have you explored non-traditional methods of education, like Montessori?

Adding Teaching At the Right Level to the list of education interventions that might be interesting to support

I think it would both be very effective and make for a very interesting video to donate to effective charities regarding potential existential risks — climate, nuclear, bioterrorism, AI, etc. Perhaps you could briefly mention some things like “future lives are highly underrepresented”, “the expected value can be potentially great if the chances of some risk are high enough”, ect. Would you consider a video on this? What’s holding the channel back from it?

Can the answers from the video be posted as answers to the questions so that those we can see each answer next to its context?

(Anyone can do this, right? It's not even obviously easier for the people who make the video to do it)

The other day I watched this heartbreaking video about Burundi, the world's poorest country. Have you thought about doing some sort of giveaway there?

GiveDirectly doesn't seem to operate in Burundi, so you might have to get creative. But getting creative could also make the video more interesting for your audience :-)

For example, instead of cash, perhaps you could offer "your choice out of the following X items". That would preserve the spirit of recipient-directed giving, collect interesting data, and make for an interesting Youtube video.

More generally, are you interested in video suggestions from people in the EA community, and if so what's the best way to get in touch? If you're interested, perhaps we could do a dedicated Beast Philanthropy video brainstorming thread here on the Forum :-)

Do you and your team have any concerns about white saviorism and poverty porn, or is the approach basically "we are helping people so we don't care too much if it looks similar to distasteful things"?

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