Michael Townsend🔸

Program Associate @ Open Philanthropy
2466 karmaJoined Working (0-5 years)Tamarama NSW 2026, Australia

Bio

Program Associate on Open Phil's Global Catastrophic Risks Capacity Building team. 
🔸 GWWC Pledger

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Unfortunately, I can't see that option — it just displays my email. 

Thanks for sharing this, and more importantly, for writing it. From my perspective, this is the best reporting on AI that I've seen. I've shared it with previously ultra-sceptical friends, and had an uncharacteristically positive response. 

Hi Vasco — not all organisations shared permission to have their name shared, but it includes many of the fundraising organisations on this list.

Giving What We Can is looking for a Researcher to help us identify the most effective donation opportunities for a variety of worldviews, and recommend these to our donors.

Salary and benefits: Salary for candidates is based on this calculator (which is explained in more depth here). Benefits and policies depend on location, but we aim to provide benefits equally wherever we can. See here for an example of an offer to a US candidate — we have similar benefits in other locations.

Location: Remote.

Apply here by February 18th March 2nd

Essential skills, traits and experience

  • A passion for making the world a better place
  • Strong grasp of key research concepts in effective giving and effective altruism
  • A scout mindset and a strong commitment to communicating accurately and truthfully
  • Excellent analytical skills; comfort working with quantitative and qualitative frameworks
  • Probabilistic reasoning and calibration; the ability to think in a Bayesian way
  • Prioritisation and judgement; the ability to (re-)focus your time on what’s most important and relevant
  • Ability to work both autonomously and in a team; comfort with working remotely
  • Good reasoning transparency

Desirable skills, traits and experience

  • Experience in impact-focused charity evaluation and/or grantmaking
  • Great written communication skills, especially in translating technical information to be understandable and compelling to the public
  • Generalist skills and flexibility and adaptability to other types of valuable work needed at various times, in addition to the responsibilities mentioned above

About GWWC: GWWC is on a mission to create a world in which giving effectively and significantly is a cultural norm. The GWWC team is hard-working and mission-focused, with a culture of open and honest feedback. We also like to think of ourselves as a particularly friendly and optimistic bunch.

In all our work, we strive to take a positive and collaborative attitude, be transparent in our communication and decision-making, and adopt a scout mindset to guide us towards doing the most good we can do, including by evaluating our own impact and learning from the results. To learn more, check out our current strategy.

The process

Our hiring process involves four stages (applicants will be compensated for their time spent on stages 2-3):

  1. Application form (~2 hours)
  2. Written work test (~2 hours)
  3. Work trial (~10 hours)
  4. Interview, online over Zoom (~1 hour) and reference checks.

We will close applications on the 2nd of March and aim to make an offer (provided we find a suitable candidate) by the end of April, with the successful candidate starting as soon as possible thereafter.

See also here to get a sense of our approach from a hiring round we did in early 2022.

Thanks Vasco, this is good feedback.

To better reflect how your different recommendations are linked to particular worldviews, I think it would be good to change the name of your area/fund "global health and wellbeing" to "global human health and wellbeing"

We considered a wide variety of names, and after some deliberation (and a survey or two), we landed on "global health and wellbeing" because we think it is a good balance of accurate and compelling. I agree with some the limitations you outlined, and like your alternative suggestion, especially from a "Researcher's" point of view where I'm very focused on. I'll share this with the team, but I expect that there would be too much cost switch at this point. 

However, I wonder how much of your and Sjir's views are being driven by path dependence. [...] Given this, I worry you may hesitate to recommend interventions in animal welfare over human welfare even if you found it much more plausible that both areas should be assessed under the same (impartial welfarist) worldview.

It's a bit tricky to respond to this having not (at least yet) done an analysis comparing animal versus human interventions. But for if/when we do, I agree it would be important to be aware of the incentives you mentioned, and to avoid making decisions based on path dependencies rather than high quality research. More generally, a good part of our motivation for this project was to help create better incentives for the effective giving ecosystem. So we'd see coming to difficult decisions on cause-prioritisation, if we thought they were justified, as very much within the scope of our work and a way it could add value.

Hi Rebecca — we did not look into The Life You Can Save for this round. As shared here we only looked into the six evaluators/funds listed in this post, and in our "Why and how GWWC evaluates evaluators" we shared how we decided which evaluators to prioritise. It's too soon to say which evaluators we'll look into next, though we can share that our current inclination is that looking into Founders Pledge's research, and expanding the cause areas we include (like climate change, or "meta" work) is a particularly high priority. 

Thanks Nick! It was really illuminating for me personally to look under the hood of GW, and I'm glad you appreciated our summary of the work. 

In this round of evaluations, we only looked into Animal Charity Evaluators, GiveWell, Happier Lives Institute, EA Funds' Animal Welfare Fund and Long-Term Future Fund, and Longview's Emerging Challenges Fund. In future evaluations, we would like to look into Founders Pledge's work, climate change more generally, and other evaluators. It's too soon to commit to which, and in which order, just yet.

Also, did you evaluate GW's Top Charity Fund of All Grants Fund?

Jonas' reply is spot on here — we essentially looked into both and to GW more generally.

There is definitely substantial overlap between the four funds you listed; and especially on GWWC's fund and EA Funds'. In principle, it doesn't have to be this way:

  • GWWC's Global Health and Wellbeing Fund could potentially grant based on evaluations other than GW (e.g., potentially from Founders Pledge, or Happier Lives Institute, etc., depending on how our subsequent evaluations go).
  • EA Funds' Global Health and Development Fund could similarly appoint new advisors, or change its scope. But I can't speak on behalf of EA Funds!
  • GW's Top Charities Fund and All Grants Fund do make different grants, with the latter having a wider scope, but there is overlap.  

Have you considered allocating the donations made to the GWWC Global Health and Wellbeing Fund to GW's funds?

We expect that in effect this will be what happens. That is, we expect GW to advise our fund as a proxy for the All Grants Fund. Operationally, it's better for us to directly grant to the organisations based on GW's advice (rather than, for example, sending the money to GW to regrant it) so that, among other reasons, charities can receive the money sooner. We already have this process setup for donations made to GW's funds on our platform. This means that, at least right now, giving to either the All Grants Fund, or our cause area fund, will have the same effect. But as above, this could change based on future evaluations of evaluators, which we see as a feature for donors who want to setup recurring donations to track our latest research.

Thanks Peter, and we'd of course like to extend the thanks back to HLI for being such an excellent collaborator here! Congratulations on publishing your new research. I'm eager to read more about it over the coming weeks and hopefully to dive into it in more detail next year in our next round of evaluations. 

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