Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

alexanderis comments on Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others... - Less Wrong

130 Post author: Yvain 24 December 2010 09:26PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (318)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: alexanderis 25 December 2010 07:23:00PM *  3 points [-]

I don't know what financial statements you're looking at, but if you look at the 2009 IRS form 990, it shows that they raised $374K and spent $340K. Of that, $110K was re-granted.

They did raise $768K in 2008, but they only spent $155K of it, and saved the rest. $250K of it was restricted for the their economic empowerment grant, which was distributed in early 2010.

Furthermore, I find your characterization of their business model misleading. I don't know what Holden and Elie made working for a hedge fund, but I bet it's a hell of a lot more than they're making at GiveWell, so criticizing their selfishness strikes me as mistaken.

I don't know if GiveWell publishes the data on where they get their money, but I'm fairly certain that very little of it comes from the general public in the way you're suggesting. Their mid-2010 budget update (DOC), for instance, calculates when they would run out of money if they don't get any donations that they aren't already anticipating. Most of their funding, on my understanding, comes from the Hewlett Foundation and their board.

Edit: I've been a fan of the GiveWell project for quite some time, and have an informal agreement to join GiveWell as an employee in mid-2011. I'm a student and was commenting simply on my own behalf, without any discussion with GiveWell. After Holden commented, I emailed him to say that I had commented, and he recommended that I disclose my plan to work for them.