Donor-Advised Fund: First Donations!

When we got married, Lucas and I set up a donor-advised fund. We did this because we plan to donate a large portion of our lifetime earnings, and we think that to a first-order approximation, it's best to save and donate later. (See Phil Trammell's persuasive argument for this in paper form or on the 80,000 Hours podcast.)

Nevertheless, we plan to donate a portion of our projected lifetime earnings each year, around 1% or so. This is essentially because of a mix of diminishing returns and the small chance that now could be an exceptionally important time.

In line with that, we made our first grants from our donor-advised fund this year, and some donations that would have come from it except that we donated directly on Facebook to try to get matched. (We'll see what happens on that score.)

I'm excited to announce our donations and encourage others to support these excellent organizations!

First, we made an unusual donation for us to the Register 2 Vote fund at Block Power, a nonprofit that supports black political participation based on Ian David Moss's recommendation. We think this sort of donation is rarely of much value since so many people donate around voting and elections. This is an unusually important moment, however. The existence of two elections in a swing-ish state that determine the entire balance of the U.S. Senate and therefore two branches of the government is a once-in-a-generation event. For this reason, this was our focus at the end of this year.

Second, we donated to the Wild Animal Initiative, which researches effective ways to improve the lives of wild animals. Wild animal welfare is a hugely important and neglected cause, and we're impressed with the organization's integrity and strategy. They've only been around for a short while but have made impressive progress building academic relationships and proof-of-concept research. It's also worth noting that Animal Charity Evaluators, where I now serve on the board, recommended WAI as a top charity this year.

Third, we donated to Animal Charity Evaluators, where as I said I serve on the board. ACE reviews research on effective advocacy and recommends donation opportunities to help nonhuman animals. I've been struck by ACE's growth as an organization over the past several years, its care in navigating complex social movement dynamics, and its ability to steer resources to where they have the most impact. This has improved the animal advocacy movement, and I look forward to seeing its continued progress.

Fourth, we donated to Mercy for Animals, where Lucas has been serving on the board of the One to Change the World society. MFA is a leader among organizations dedicated to helping farmed animals. We strongly believe in their president Leah Garc├ęs, who has impressive skill at working with erstwhile opponents to help animals and has a promising vision for ending factory farming.

A big reason why we donated to each of these organizations is that they have ample room for more funding, so they could all use your donations too! Block Power has a straightforward way to make use of additional dollars in the next month based on evidence-based voter outreach tactics. WAI is aiming to fill a critical funding gap and has impressive expansion plans we'd love to see pursued. ACE is steadily building its organizational and research infrastructure and can direct additional funds where they're needed most, and MFA could use support in furthering its ongoing expansion.


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