February 2017: $46,400 to the Good Food Institute http://mdickens.me/2016/10/31/where_i_am_donating_in_2016/ October 2015:$20,000 to Raising for Effective Giving

This year I spent a lot more time than usual considering where to donate, and I settled on Raising for Effective Giving. I wrote up the details of my process; see the linked article for how I came to this decision.

May 2015: $3000 to Animal Charity Evaluators 2014 was the first year where I had earned more than a few hundred dollars in income, so I felt comfortable donating a larger amount of money in 2015. (Previous donations were really my parents’ money.) I signed the Giving What We Can pledge promising to donate 20% of my lifetime income; I donated more than 10% but less than 20% this year since I was still a student and wasn’t working full-time. Once again, Stanford EA decided to collectively donate to a charity, although we did not partner with the Arrillaga-Andreesen Foundation. We had a lot of internal disagreements, but I believe these points all represented the majority view: • Elon Musk recently made a$10 million grant to far-future charities, so they probably have limited room for more funding.
• Effective factory farming charities are probably more impactful than GiveWell top charities.
• There is a lot of uncertainty around highly speculative charities and most of us do not feel comfortable donating to them.

The two most popular choices were The Humane League and Animal Charity Evaluators. I felt highly uncertain between these two, but weakly favored THL. I did not see that ACE had a strong case that additional money donated to them would improve the quality of their recommendations.

We came to a consensus on our four top choices (THL, ACE, SCI, and a four-way split between MIRI/FHI/FLI/CSER) and voted between them. I voted for THL; ACE got the most votes. I felt sufficiently uncertain about my preference for THL that I decided to follow the group decision and donate to ACE.

2011-2013: Intermission

During this period I discovered GiveWell and considered donating to their top charities. Then I found Brian Tomasik’s essay arguing that we should donate to vegetarian advocacy (at the time he endorsed this as the most effective cause area). I thought that this might be more effective than GiveWell top charities but felt uncomfortable with the lack of evidence supporting its effectiveness. I did not donate any money during this period.

I joined Stanford Effective Altruism in 2012 (at the time called Stanford THINK). I did not donate any money until later but this gave me a platform for in-person discussion about effective charity.

2009-2010: Various donations

During this period I had the intuition that it was important to donate to global poverty and to find effective charities but I gave only cursory thought to what makes a charity effective. I made a few small donations (up to \$200) to charities that I thought were reasonably effective.