The Giving What We Can Trust was set up in 2013 to make it easier and more efficient for donors to support Giving What We Can’s recommended charities. It has proven to be a far more popular donation option than anticipated, and has received £4.5 million in donations from 3,500 donors. A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to that.
In 2016, we at Giving What We Can merged our operations with our parent charity the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) in order to work more efficiently across the two organisations. We share accounting processes with the exception of the Trust and so both to improve the donor experience and reduce the administration costs on our end we’re now in the process of also moving the Trust’s functionality over to a new website and its legal and financial operations to CEA.
As of 6th April the charities that were supported by the Giving What We Can Trust were added to CEA’s new donation platform Effective Altruism (EA) Funds. Donors wishing to set up new donations to support these charities can do so in a similar way to before, by visiting this page on our Effective Altruism Funds website. You can read more on Effective Altruism Funds below.
We are currently seeking advice on transferring recurring donations that currently go to the Trust. The rules and procedures may vary depending upon what donation method a donor has used, so we will be reaching out individually to donors over the coming weeks to communicate how their donations will be affected and explain what options are available. Until then, recurring donations are continuing to be collected by the Trust and will be allocated as normal, according to the wishes of each donor.
Those of you who have seen our previous update introducing Effective Altruism Funds will notice that EA Funds and the new version of the Giving What We Can Trust are both part of the same website. This website is something we had already begun working as a way to improve the donor experience for Trust users and make it easier for us to manage and track donations. When we had the idea for EA Funds it made sense to host it on the same site and further prioritise development of the website.
Effective Altruism (EA) Funds is an alternative way for donors to donate effectively through philanthropic funds. Currently, these funds are managed by staff at the Open Philanthropy Project who have experience in finding promising donation opportunities and inside knowledge of where the funding gaps ares. We currently believe this is the best option for many donors as it allows them to benefit from the expertise of our fund managers (see section 3. Strong track record for finding high-leverage giving opportunities). We’ve also written a bit about why we believe this is likely to be more effective than donating to individual charities.
However we also discuss in the same article reasons why you might choose not to donate to EA Funds. Donors that have different values to our current fund managers, do not trust the current fund managers or are more risk averse might prefer to donate to individual charities themselves. In line with the old version of the Giving What We Can Trust, donors can still set up donations to individual charities on the new website. For now, any donations to the old Trust which donors have allocated according to Giving What We Can’s recommendations will continue to GiveWell top charities because of the restrictions on where the Trust is allowed to grant.
There are a number of reasons why we find consolidating the Trust activities with CEA and moving everything to a new website desirable.
1) All your donations in once place
Given the popularity of the Trust and the fact that many Giving What We Can members donate to a wide range of organisations, not just those in global development, we thought it would be useful to donors to have one place where they could make all of their donations. The Trust's charitable objects, however, only allow for donations to organisations working on global poverty. CEA’s objects are broader and allow it to make grants to a wider range of organisations (including, for example, charities which benefit animals, or combat climate change).
2) Making it easier to measure our impact
We’re also working on functionality to link your donations up to a new version of My Giving. Tracking actual donations (rather than self reported ones) in one place makes it much easier for us to see what donations we are influencing and makes it easier for you to keep a record of your donations. Any donation information recorded in the current version of My Giving will be carried over to the new version when it’s ready.
3) New functionality and reduced administration costs
While the website is new and still a work in progress, once it is finished it will provide a lot more flexibility for users to make, edit and track donations. By consolidating all of the donations we process into one platform and one legal entity in this way, we are also able to concentrate our work on one website. This also means we’ll no longer have to duplicate financial and administration work between two different donation platforms, reducing the total administration costs.
4) Making things clearer for donors
Previously we had thought donors might prefer to give if the platform was a distinct legal entity from Giving What We Can, which is why the Trust was set up as a charity in its own right, separate from Giving What We Can. However, in practice few donors make the distinction between the Giving What We Can Trust and Giving What We Can, and so the separation has been confusing rather than useful. In addition, while the Giving What We Can Trust is a separate legal entity to the Centre for Effective Altruism, all the Trustees of the Trust are employees of the Centre for Effective Altruism and the latter legally controls the former, making the separation all the more confusing.
We’ll be sharing more updates with Giving What We Can Members and supporters as we finalise the process for moving donations and add new features to Effective Altruism (EA) Funds.
If you want to donate to some of the most effective individual charities out there you can do so by going to this page on the Effective Altruism (EA) Funds website and selecting the charities you want to support.
Anyone with recurring donations to the Giving What We Can Trust will hear from us when we have confirmed our options for transferring these. In the meantime your donations are being processed as normal.
We hope this clarifies the current changes that are taking place with the Giving What We Can Trust. Of course, if you have any questions please feel free to email me (email@example.com).
Equally, if you have any feedback about the Effective Altruism (EA) Funds website please reach out to us.