Our strategy and plans

Last updated May 16, 2022. See our public update about our 2022 strategy.

Our purpose

Giving What We Can (GWWC) is on a mission to create a world in which giving effectively and significantly is a cultural norm.

We believe that charitable donations can do an astonishing amount of good. However, because the effectiveness of different charities varies wildly, it is important that we donate to the most effective charities if we want to have a significant impact.

At its core, Giving What We Can is participating in the project of effective altruism: trying to use our resources to do the most good. Giving What We Can specifically focuses on one particular resource: money, in the context of charitable donations.

We are focused on increasing the number of donors who prioritise effectiveness, helping them to maximise their charitable impact throughout their lives, and introducing them to the broader effective altruism movement.

Our approach

We inspire, educate, and mobilise the social movement of effective givers:

  • Educate donors about high-impact causes and how to approach effective giving so that they can maximise their impact.
  • Provide the tools and infrastructure to make effective giving easy.
  • Foster an effective giving community that shares resources and inspires others.
  • Inspire people to pledge to give effectively and significantly.

Our impact

Giving What We Can has considerable direct impact through the money it moves to effective charities. We can also have considerable (though harder to measure) indirect impact through indirectly moving money to effective charities, promoting positive values, advocating for effective altruism, and helping spread information about the best ways people can improve the world.

We have written about this in depth in our 2022 public update about our strategy, but also go through it in brief below.

Direct impact

Our main direct impact is by influencing the effectiveness and amount of charitable donations:

  • Increasing effectiveness of donations: We collect and communicate research on charity effectiveness from a range of trusted evaluators and experts so that donors can have a greater impact. We support this by advocating for effective giving in the public sphere, running marketing campaigns about giving effectively, and providing a donation portal (currently branded as EA Funds) that makes it easy to discover and donate to effective charities.
  • Increasing amount of donations: We inspire people to give more, we recruit first-time donors, we dispel myths about charity that prevent people from donating, we encourage recurring giving and other ways of giving more (such as via bequests).
Donation effectiveness x donation amount = impact

We don't achieve this impact alone: we also work closely with other organisations in effective giving and see supporting and growing this movement as a core part of our role.

Indirect impact

Whether or not someone makes a donation or a pledge, we believe there are several strong indirect benefits of our work.

Giving What We Can has indirect impact over both the short term and long term by:

  • : We help introduce people to effective altruism and retain them. Our approach combines inspiring ideas and concrete action that helps bring more people into effective altruism.
  • Improving effective altruism culture: We foster a culture of moral seriousness, action-orientation, and optimism. Our community demonstrates that effective altruism is tangible, it's something that most people can incorporate into their lives, it's a community that cares about taking action. Effective giving isn't elitist --- it's something that almost anyone can do, and is often much more accessible and less demanding than changing careers or moving location.
  • Promoting positive values globally: We advocate for positive values such as compassion and critical thinking. We aim to create a world where giving effectively and significantly is a cultural norm, a world where people earnestly engage with important issues and take responsibility for their part in solving them.
  • Indirectly moving money to effective charities: As Giving What We Can is promoting effective giving more broadly, the success of our work doesn't always show up in our internal data. Donations often flow directly to charities or via evaluators or regranting organisations without it being reported to us.

Our outcomes

Our key outcome measure from 2022 onwards will be "active effective givers" (unique donors either donating via our platform or reporting donations using our pledge dashboard) because we believe that this measure most closely captures our mission and is a core driver of both our direct and indirect impact.

No measurement is perfect, so we will also measure closely monitor other key outcomes to inform our decision making and report on our progress:

  • Number of pledges by pledge type
  • Percentage of complying pledges
  • Amount donated
  • Amount pledged
  • Average satisfaction score
  • Number of engaged effective altruists referred by GWWC
  • Number of hours of engagement with content (quality adjusted)

We are in the process of building what we need to track and optimise towards these outcomes.

Our plans for 2022 (and beyond)

Organisational

Restructure with EA Funds

  • The donation platform currently branded EA Funds has come under the administration of Giving What We Can (GWWC). There are many reasons for this, but in short, GWWC is currently the #1 source of referrals to EA Funds, and has been actively advocating and campaigning for effective giving while EA Funds has been focused almost exclusively on grantmaking.
  • This restructure will provide a unified experience for effective givers with the Centre for Effective Altruism ecosystem. EA Funds will continue to focus on grantmaking, while GWWC will focus on fundraising (inspiring and facilitating donations and pledges).

Funding

  • Filling our current funding gap
  • Increasing the diversity of our funders (for the long-term health of our organisation and community)
  • Engaging smaller donors in funding some portion of our operations (increasing their engagement with our organisation)

Community

  • Developing people as effective givers
  • Providing advice about effective giving that's specific to small donors
  • Enabling donors to connect to the ideas and community of effective altruism
  • Fostering collaboration between effective giving organisations
  • Participating in effective altruism messaging market testing
  • Helping to fund, house, and incubate new effective giving projects (such as Charity Elections, Giving Games, new regranting organisations)
  • Developing people as advocates for effective giving (such as our Ambassador Program)

Human resources

  • Hiring outstanding people who are aligned with our mission
  • Ensuring that our team is happy, healthy, and productive

Product

  • Purpose:
    • Our website is the home of effective giving: the easiest way to give effectively, to keep giving effectively, and to build community around and advocate for giving effectively.
  • Key outcomes:
    • Number of new people taking a pledge
    • Number of people donating regularly
    • Number of active users
    • Conversion rates (that is, users taking a key action after viewing our content)
    • Percent of satisfied users
  • Brief plans for 2022 and beyond:
    • Restructure with EA Funds (as described above)
    • Developing a new marketing website
    • Integrating new donation platform with website and pledge dashboard
    • Supporting charity partners to accept donations from many different locations and currencies (including cryptocurrencies)
    • Supporting a global effective giving community by expanding internationally, internationalising our website, and working alongside (or helping set up) national regranting providers
    • Building tools for advocacy and fundraising
  • Budget:
  • 2.5 FTE + ~$200,000 USD for software subscriptions and operations time

Research

  • Purpose:
    • Ensure that we are providing accurate and useful information in our research reports and other content on how to give effectively. Success means that our members end up donating to the most effective charities, and some of them are sufficiently impressed and intrigued by our approach that they end up becoming more involved with the effective altruism movement.
  • Key outcomes:
    • Develop a review process with expert generalists, specialists, and people representative of our users
    • Publish at least three research reports, cross-posted on the EA Forum
    • Establish a transparent, persuasive, and useful framework/process that allows us to expand our charitable recommendations list
  • Brief plans for 2022 and beyond:
    • Conducting novel research that helps effective givers (such as "Should you just donate to one charity?" and "How and when to defer to charity evaluators")
    • Maintaining and improving our current research content (e.g., cause and charity pages)
    • Helping develop new products that introduce the ideas of effective giving (such as the "How Rich Am I?" calculator)
    • Coordinating with other effective giving organisations, so we avoid duplicating research, are aligned on terminology around effective giving, and are sharing lessons learned with each other.
    • Investigating whether to, and potentially helping direct, a new longtermist fund that is aimed to provide highly legible grants to organisations working to improve the long-term future.
    • Developing a process to determine which charities we recommend, or place in other categories, such as being 'listed' on our website, but not recommended. See here for EA Funds' current approach.
  • Budget:
    • Ideally 1.8 FTE (hiring a new senior researcher + Michael at 0.8)
    • Very approximate budget for contractors and reviewers: $25,000 USD:
    • Review team --- ~$5,000 USD
    • Contract authors for research reports --- ~$15,000 USD
    • Commissioning shallow research reports --- ~$5,000 USD
    • Guesstimate model

Marketing

  • Purpose:
    • Grow the number of people that are giving effectively and significantly.
  • Key outcomes:
    • Increase new website visitors (2022 Goal: 1 million, ~30% YoY increase)
    • Increase annual active effective givers (Goal: 15,000, ~40% YoY increase)
  • Brief plans for 2022 and beyond:
    • Focusing on 'brilliant basics' --- getting the core marketing activities right and understanding what will work for Giving What We Can
    • Expanding our reach through advertising and sponsorships across social media and other relevant platforms (like YouTube and podcasts)
    • Developing relationships with creators and influencers who are aligned with our vision and values to create content that reaches large audiences
    • Testing and refining our messaging on effective giving to ensure our communication resonates with a broader audience
    • Creating a compelling and convincing campaign for Giving Season and Effective Giving Day that will reach a large audience and translate into tangible action
    • Increasing advocacy in our member base to grow the effective altruism movement by providing new ways to visualise impact and share effective giving
  • Budget:
    • 1.0 FTE + $120,000 USD for marketing and advertising activities like sponsorships, campaign creation, and advertising

Content

  • Purpose:
    • Motivate new people to give effectively, and provide resources that can improve the decision making of both new and existing donors.
  • Key outcomes:
    • Hours of quality-adjusted engagement
    • Number of unique views on our website and YouTube channel
    • Number of followers on social media
    • Number of collaborative products developed with external stakeholders
  • Brief plans for 2022 and beyond:
    • Discovering the exact kind of content that our target audience(s) want, and then creating a pipeline to deliver well-researched, engaging, and inspiring content to them at regular intervals
    • Expanding our content to new mediums, such as podcasts, videos, guides, and content-product hybrids (such as our "How Rich Am I?" calculator).
    • Assembling a team of writers and other content creators to increase the volume of content in the pipeline
    • Collaborating with effective altruism and effective altruism-aligned stakeholders --- such as public intellectuals, charitable organisations, news publications, authors, key influencers, academics, and others --- to create relevant content to introduce newcomers to effective giving and improve existing givers' charitable effectiveness
    • Providing opportunities for existing members to advocate for effective giving, including pledge campaigns, member profiles, quotes, tips on activism, and research on effective messaging
  • Budget:

Support us

As of 16 March 2022, we currently have a funding gap of ~$1.45 million USD and are looking for both one-time and ongoing funders to support our activities to expand our reach and impact (as described above). If you are interested in contributing to this work, you can donate directly or get in touch with our executive director to discuss in more detail.

You can also support us by: