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Vilhelm Skoglund

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Thank you for your feedback, I completely agree with your comment that

[...] for the sake of future applicants I think it would be helpful to have more clarity on this reason for rejection.

So I’ll try to clarify what we mean here. 

First, I would like to stress that that the funding circle gathers individual funders with separate wills cooperating under a joint brand to i) more easily process a higher number of applications ii) have a forum where we can discuss the grants to make a more informed decision. So, while the list of the “most common reasons for rejection” is written with the intent to reflect an amalgamation of views of the funders, every funding decision is made by individual members. 

More to your question,

“[...] you'll get fewer 'successes' than you would from donating to more established orgs, but I would think the expectation from well chosen grants to less established organisations would be much higher [...] This seems to be exactly the reason you've given for funding Ge Effektivt.” 

I agree with this reasoning and certainly believe in hits-based giving. However, we mean something different here. We’re not trying to say that we don’t want to take bets and risk having very limited impact, but that when comparing funding opportunities it, all else being equal seems worse if one does not look like it will be able to raise funds to continue to operate. Regarding Ge Effektivt, which I personally decided to donate to, I was taking a bet that GE will be able to get on its feet with this injection of cash. One of the reasons it stood out to me was actually that I think they can raise money with lower counterfactual going forward.

"In many cases, they're in a vicious cycle of needing to spend time to seek funding and then looking worse to funders because they haven't had enough time to spend on pursuing their nominal goals or improving operational efficiency. Often a single large grant might help them break out of that cycle, especially if it were presented with a clear understanding that it were such a grant."

We would be happy to fund an applicant that could convince us that that is the situation they have found themselves in. However, I don't think that you in (hits-based) grantmaking, would fund something for which you do not think there will be a later funder, if you cannot fund it yourself.

Hope that clarifies things a bit!

Hi Peter, 

Thanks for the questions. I am afraid I cannot give a particularly good answer, as each member speaks and makes decisions for themselves, and I have not properly investigated the things you are asking about. I hope to build higher clarity on this over time and give a better answer, but I will say a few high-level things that I think are true and might shine some light. 

- Several members prioritize global health and well-being (high confidence) and think that this cause seems more funding-constrained than talent-constrained (low confidence)
- Some members are more excited about projects with clear feedback loops (medium confidence)
- Some members think there is an opportunity here as few other funders are focusing on giving multipliers (low confidence)

Importantly these are my impressions, not more. Also, it does not reflect all members' views. E.g. I prioritize GCRs and multiplying human capital, due to thinking this is more important than financial capital for the causes I think are most important.   

Unfortunately I don't think anything I can say will be meaningful. Jona and I have spent alot of time (above 40 hours in total) trying understand funding flows and thinking about what might be particular needs atm. Also we had great help from Amber. Obviously you could do it with less effort than this. Best guess if I tried to 80/20 doing something similar in the future with some collection of feedback is 10-15 hours from me and 2 hours from feedback givers. But this is very crude.

Thank you for the encouraging words! Will consider doing this again in the future.

+1 on not being alarmist, overly patronizing, or too certain of ourselves. And to be clear I think this is about more than messaging! Also, agree that we need to be able to collaborate with people who have different prioritise, but think it is important with integrity, prioritising and not giving up too much.

Thank you Peter!

I agree, some kind of regular report would be useful. And definitely think they should include more graphics (erred on the side of getting this out there).

On your meta point, I would be curious to hear if you know of communities or similar that have better information quality, more effectively mediating sought-after behavioral outcomes? My feeling is that this indeed is very important, but rarely is invested in and/or done very well. It would be very interesting with some kind of survey mapping what (easy) system-level improvements/public goods the community would be most excited about (e.g. regular funding updates).  

Thank you! And a few reflections on recognition.

A few days ago, while I sat at the desk in my summer cabin, an unexpected storm swept in. It was a really bad storm, and when it subsided, a big tree had fallen, blocking the road to the little neighborhood where the cabin lies. Some of my neighbors, who are quite senior, needed to get past the tree and could not move it, so I decided to help. I went out with a chainsaw and quad bike, and soon the road was clear.

The entire exercise took me about two hours, and it was an overall pretty pleasurable experience, getting a break from work and being out in nature working with my body. However, afterward, I was flooded with gratitude, as if I had done something truly praiseworthy. Several neighbors came to thank me, telling me what a very nice young man I was, some even brought small gifts, and I heard people talking about what I had done for days afterward.

This got me thinking.

My first thought: These are very nice people, and it is obviously kind of them to come and thank me. But it seems a little off - when I tell them what I do every day, what I dedicate my life to, most of them nod politely and move on to talk about the weather. It seems bad and unfair that when we do something immediately visible and easy to grasp, recognition and gratitude come pouring in, but when we engage in work that is indirect, more abstract, and potentially with far-reaching consequences, the acknowledgment isn’t as forthcoming.

My second thought: But wait a minute. Here I am, sitting brooding over the behavior of others. Am I any better? What have I done to express gratitude to all of the amazing people out there in the world working on what they think is the most important thing without getting any recognition? Not much.

My third thought: I should do something about this.

To all of you, from the bottom of my heart - thanks! The tasks you dedicate yourselves to might not garner instant applause or make the evening news. You might not receive heartwarming thanks every time you make a contribution, but I want to tell you that I see it, I value it, and I am profoundly grateful for it.

When talking to people in the effective altruism community, I often get a first reaction of confusion, almost suspicion; why is this great person with so many opportunities pouring their soul into a low-paying job that involves lots of hardship and where they don’t get much public appreciation? Then the simple yet profound answer dawns on me; oh yeah, it is because they are primarily driven by a deep commitment to do good the most good, not other niceties. Wow. Super wow.

If you feel like there is an unsung hero out there, consider sending them your gratitude.

(Note - I am not saying that recognition should be a main motivator for doing good. But getting and sharing appreciation is nice, and I think it can help build motivation.)
 

Hey!

Thank you for a good post. I think this is a relevant question, and I agree with Stefan that it would be good with more data on this. Fwiw, in Sweden, my 50% confidence interval of the share of highly-engaged longtermists under 25 doing movement-building is  20-35%.  However, I don't think I am as concerned as you seem to be with that number. A couple of thoughts:

  • I think the answer to how young longtermist who should be doing community building is very dependent on the counterfactual - what they would be doing otherwise. And my experience as a community builder in Sweden trying to help young longtermsist is that there aren't that many better opportunities out there right now. (Note that this might be very different in other contexts.)
    • I would be super keen on seeing more opportunities for young longtermists to engage in EA!
  • Going off that, I think community building can be a very good place to get a better understanding of all the different career options and start exploring some, before doing object-level work to assess fit/contribute in another domain. And I think I would be more concerned with young EAs and longtermists focusing in on one path very early on, if they don't have a very particular/obvious personal fit or preference. I know of at least a couple of people who after doing community building have come to update their plans in a way I deem positive and unlikely to have happened otherwise.
  • On a related but more speculative note I think community building can be a good place to build a better sense of cause agnosticism and connections to people in different cause areas, which I think is beneficial for the EA and longtermist movement over the long run.
  • Data suggest people leave their community building roles rather quickly, indicating that people do pivot when finding a better fit (see more: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ewCdRr2ZBkrwXMaoX/making-community-building-a-more-attractive-career-path-1)
  • Pure speculation on my part but I think community building can be an especially pleasant way to get heavily involved and build social connections to other EAs and longtermists early on, thus making it more likely to keep people engaged over the long run.

Note that I might be biased as I am a community builder myself and think community building is one of the most impactful things many could do, not only young people. Somewhat relevant to this question, this is actually something I have been concerned about when giving advice to students. Obviously, I try to be objective, but it is hard to shy away from the fact that it will always be top of mind for me and just something I am much more knowledgeable about, making it more likely that I will bring it up. 

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