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Catherine Low

I took the Giving What We Can pledge in 2015. Between 2015-2022, I’ve donated 10-15% of my income. This year is the first year where I’m not planning to donate my usual pledge amount; instead I’ve chosen to donate extra next year to make up for this. 


  • Initially I focussed on Animal Charity Evaluators top charities (and to whatever charity won the Giving Game I was running).
  • Then I started thinking more like a meta micro-funder - donating to projects/people I could donate to more easily (because of my knowledge or lack of constraints) than institutional donors could
    • Helping get ideas to the “applying for funding” stage
    • Helping through financially tricky situations - e.g. tiding them over between jobs or grants 


  • I began conserving my donations for potentially vulnerable initiatives I'm familiar with and really like, which might need support as a result of the drop in EA meta funding. While none of these have required funding thus far (thanks wonderful institutional donors!) I think I might see opportunities like this in 2024, and I have a couple of projects in mind that I’m ready to leap in and support.

Aside: Separately to my pledge I also “offset” my carbon emissions. I currently donate this to Founders Pledge Climate Change Fund. I feel pretty mixed about this. I’m more worried about other risks and other current issues, so it’s not a particularly “EA thing to do”. My motivations are “try not to be part of the problem” guilt reduction reasons plus social reasons (many of my friends and family are “flightless kiwis” and enthusiastic climate advocates, so I feel better about flying when I can say “I offset! Here’s how!”).

Shakeel Hashim

I took the Giving What We Can pledge at the end of last year, so this was my first “proper” year of donating 10% (though I ended up donating about 10% last year too). After taking the pledge, I made a template for deciding how to allocate my donations to cause areas. The idea was that I want to take a portfolio approach (giving some to global health, some to existential security, and some to animal welfare), and also want to consider the overall resources I “donate”, which includes my time. This led me to realise that because most of my work time recently has been spent on existential security stuff, and because I think my work time is much more valuable than the amount of money I donate, my donations should all go to global health stuff.

I’m also a big fan of encouraging new global health projects to appear, as I expect we might be able to find better projects than the current top-rated charities. That said, it’s difficult to target donations to such projects. In practice, I donate 95% to the GiveWell All Charities Fund, and 5% to the Charity Entrepreneurship Incubated Charities Fund.

Angelina Li

I took the Giving What We Can pledge in 2016, when I was in college. In terms of how much I donate: From ~2018-2021, I was earning to give at a consulting firm, and gave somewhere between 20-40% of my income every year, mostly to effective animal advocacy charities.

Last year, I joined CEA, and it looks like I barely made my 10% threshold last year (mostly based on one large donation to the animal welfare EA Fund in January). At the time, I think decreasing my donations was a reaction to a more cash-flush funding landscape, thinking my labour was now more valuable than my money, and wanting to save more after heading into a less lucrative career path. I regret this somewhat, looking back: I think I let my expenses ramp up too quickly and wish I had saved more to donate later. A smarter me would also have considered the benefits of preserving diverse funding options on a rainy day. Plus selfishly, having more to donate would mean that a greater chunk of my impact portfolio isn’t dependent on my day to day work performance, which I really value emotionally.

This year, I’m not sure how much I want to give — I’d like to at least hit my 10% threshold, and the funding landscape is very different than in 2022, but I still think my labour hours are more valuable than my money. For reasons similar to Shakeel, I’m interested in diversifying the cause areas I impact, and so will likely give the majority of my donations to effective animal charities, especially ones doing work on small animals. But this isn’t set in stone yet, so I’m open to being pitched!

Oscar Howie

My route into EA was hearing podcast adverts for GiveWell, thinking that sounded like a better thing to do with my money than what I was doing with it otherwise (London-centric consumerism), and deciding that the Global Health and Development Fund at EA Funds made more sense as the recipient than GiveWell for tax efficiency reasons. I set up a direct debit and didn’t think much more about it for a while.

When I did get around to thinking about the “EA” in EA Funds (prompted, I think, by Holden on the Ezra Klein Show), I fell down the familiar reading rabbit hole and almost immediately applied for a job at CEA. After landing here in April 2022, a combination of status quo bias and a vague sense that existential risk wasn’t short of cash meant my GHD direct debit rolled on. Then the funding landscape changed, and in July of this year I adapted to that with a total and complete shutdown of my donations until I can figure out what is going on.

My plan is to spend some time before the year is out figuring - as best I can! basically for the first time! - where my pounds should go. I’m really glad we did this post, because I didn’t know about Shakeel’s template, and I expect I’ll use that.

Amy Labenz

  • $1k to a campaign
  • $5k value-driven investment in Elicit (plan to donate any returns from the investment, though returns weren’t the primary motivation)
  • $10k to LTFF
  • ~$20k to sponsor someone to move to the US to study (I don’t consider this charitable giving towards my pledge but we might count some portion)

Overall I’m behind on my pledge and was hoping to make up for more donations this year. In some previous years I took a lower salary and counted that towards my pledge. Later, when I started growing my family, I opted to take more salary. At the same time, I got behind on donations (I was not prioritizing donations while EA assets were particularly high, though I did make some). I’m not sure exactly how to calculate my remaining deficit and I’d hoped to make more progress this year, which has involved a secondment to EV during crisis time, a newborn baby and my partner earning less for impact reasons. I now plan to spend more time on this next year.

JP Addison

I’m a long-time Giving What We Can member. For the last few years, I’ve viewed the way that I should spend my altruistic budget is on projects that would be unlikely to have been funded by institutional funders for reasons unrelated to their expected value. E.g. political campaigns, which have spending limits.

This year I changed course and decided to fulfill my pledge via salary sacrifice. It is regrettable how much money gets lost in taxes for my 10% to go from CEA to me to my donation target. Potentially 50% given some assumptions. In previous years I viewed this as worth it for the purpose of getting money to these places where the money was needed and the major foundations could not send it. However, this year, I observed worthwhile full nonprofit projects struggling to get funded. This includes a funding gap at CEA. I felt it hard to justify the overhead.

I also have some feeling of: I’m asking donors for money to fund the EA Forum. I genuinely think given the altruistic portfolio or EA spending at the moment, the Forum is a good bet. If I think that, I want to make that obvious by putting my money where my mouth is.

Emma Richter

I took the Giving What We Can pledge in 2022. I’ve donated 10-15% of my income since then, though this hasn’t on net been a large sum since I made relatively little money when I first pledged.

I try to balance my resource impact across donations and my career, so I’ve adjusted where I donate based on what I’m working on in my full-time job. One more significant shift has been my increase in donations to animal welfare organizations. I’ve been persuaded that this work might be more neglected than some other cause areas, and donating helps me offset my consumption of some animal products (mostly cheese and eggs since I’m vegetarian but not vegan).

I’ll also be transparent that I’ve donated to one global health organization regularly this year because I’ve had closer experiences with their work—and I deeply admire their transparency, communications, and approach to the people they help. They are considered highly cost-effective, so I think there’s good evidence to donate, but I also think my reasoning here includes some warm fuzzies around how they do their cost-effective work.

I’ve hit my pledge donation goal for this year so I’m not sure if I’ll donate more during giving season (seems likely, but not sure how much). I might try to fundraise from friends and family for a charity I’ve donated to this year and introduce some kernels of effective giving ideas to people that way. I tend to donate to some smaller, local nonprofits during giving season as well.

Eli Nathan

I took the Giving What We Can pledge back in 2016 and have been donating 10% since I started my first full-time job in 2019.

When EA was less funding constrained (i.e. a little over a year ago) I put large chunks of my donations towards political candidates and EA-relevant lobbying groups, as these groups have spending limits and can’t easily have their funding gaps filled by large donors. With EA being more funding constrained it seems like my donations might have more impact if directed on non-political projects, so I’m planning to shift in that direction (though I don’t have strong confidence in this).

This year I’m planning to put most of my donations towards the Long Term Future Fund, though I’ve already donated some money to some EA political candidates, and I might donate a bit to Labour for the Long Term.

Lizka Vaintrob

  • I donated to the Donation Election Fund — I endorse what I said about it here (note that I’m involved with this project). 
  • I also donated to a political campaign. I was quite unsure about it, but I tried comparing the value of donating to the campaign vs. the value of donating to an EA Funds fund, and I ended up going for the campaign in part because I have an unusual ability to donate to political campaigns as a U.S. citizen (vs. foundations or non-citizens). 
  • In assorted cases, I was supposed to get compensated for something like a one-off task for an organization that I’d happily donate to and just didn’t request the compensation. (I think this can cause complicated dynamics for reasons discussed here and here, but I also think the overhead on $500 payments can be quite high.) 

Ben West

(Note: I decided on some of these contributions last year, but they didn’t actually happen until the 2023 tax year, so I’m including them here.)

  1. I choose a lower salary than CEA's formula would state that I should have (I semi-arbitrarily chose the smallest amount which makes me exempt from overtime pay in California); if you consider that a donation, it would be 49% of my donations this year
  2. 3% of my donations went to an entity which has not yet received 501(c)(3) status (so, like the previous one, does not count as a "donation" for tax purposes)
  3. 32% went to the Center on Long-term Risk. I think my motivation is slightly different from many CLR staff, but broadly I am worried that a future with aligned AI might not be that great, and would like to have more research on how to make it so. I’m also personally glad they’ve started doing more intro/field building stuff.
  4. 16% went to Animal Charity Evaluators. I continue to think that their recommended charities are a good guess as to the most effective places to donate in animal advocacy, and a dollar donated to ACE seems to generate >$1 towards these charities. I’m also personally glad about their increased interest in engaging with EA.

Everyone who’s contributed here is a member of staff at CEA, but not everyone who’s a member of staff at CEA has contributed here, because trade-offs are a thing! Your regular reminder that CEA is an Effective Ventures project.

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I really appreciate this culture of sharing donation decisions, and admire the reasoning transparency on display here. 

I started at CEA this week, and my donation decisions are still incomplete, so I didn't join in on this post. However, after reading it, I think it would be worthwhile to share where I'm at. I made a resolution to donate 10% this year, for the first year since I became interested in EA in 2019 (I might write about why I delayed this decision in a future post). So far this has meant putting 10% of every paycheck into a pot in my Monzo which accrues some interest while I defer thinking about where the money should go. 

Like Lizka, I've decided to donate £1000 to the Donation Election Fund (though, like Lizka, I'm also involved in the project). I'm hoping that the conversations on the Forum leading up to and during the Donation election week will help me decide where to put the rest of my money this year. I'm publicly committing that it will all go somewhere before 2024. 

I'm publicly committing that it will all go somewhere before 2024.

Just updating that it now has! More details in the donation thread.  

Executive summary: CEA staff donate 10-40% of their income and spread donations across EA cause areas based on individual priorities. Donations provide flexible funding to neglected initiatives and offset personal impact beyond labor.

Key points:

  1. Staff donate 10-15% per Giving What We Can pledge, though some donate 20-40% based on earning to give.
  2. Cause areas include global health, animal welfare, existential risk, and political campaigns.
  3. Donations target flexible funding gaps, new projects, personal impact offsetting, and tax efficiency.
  4. Decision frameworks weigh labor time, funding gaps, indirect impact, and personal experience.
  5. The funding situation has shifted donations from political campaigns to nonprofits and internal projects.
  6. Some staff are behind on pledges and plan to catch up with more donations next year.


This comment was auto-generated by the EA Forum Team. Feel free to point out issues with this summary by replying to the comment, and contact us if you have feedback.

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