This is REG’s third annual transparency report (see our reports for 2015 and 2014). This report complements the semiannual reports on money moved (S1, S2).

Total Donations

The ‘total donations’ figure reflects all donations that have been significantly influenced by REG. That is, if a donor thinks that REG (at least) significantly influenced them to make a donation, we include that donation in our ‘total donations’ figure. We count donations made through REG’s website as influenced by us, as well as some instances of donors donating to REG-recommended charities directly. In the latter case, we include the donation if the donor confirms that REG’s influence was essential. Since this metric leaves out any donations to REG-recommended charities from people who never get in touch with us, REG’s actual impact is somewhat underrepresented.

In 2016, REG donors gave a total of $1,462,450 to highly cost-effective charities. We currently estimate REG’s expenses for the year 2016 to be around $86,744[1], resulting in a fund ratio of 1:17 (1:16.86) for 2016.

Adding up our expenses since the launch in 2014, we get a preliminary sum of $214,025[1]. Adding up all donations raised for REG-recommended charities since 2014, we get a total of $2,293,238, thus resulting in an overall fund ratio of 1:11 (1:10.71).

Note, however, that we think the overall fund ratio is a suboptimal way to assess REG’s impact and should thus be interpreted with caution. We plan to detail our thoughts on, among other things, how to best assess REG’s impact in an upcoming blog post.

The REG community’s donations were distributed as follows[2]:

Charity Amount (in $)
Against Malaria Foundation 922,557
Albert Schweitzer Fouondation 1,750
Animal Charity Evaluators 2,922
Animal Ethics 22,935
Centre for Effective Altruism 5,652
Center for Effective Vegan Advocacy 10,673
Foundational Research Institute 45,979
GiveDirectly 51,571
GiveWell 417
Machine Intelligence Research Institute 121,657
Mercy For Animals 2,200
New Incentives 712
Nonhuman Rights Project 10,831
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative 224,315
Sentience Politics 4,053
Swiss Vegan Society 10,826
The Humane League 666
The Humane Slaughter Associaton 22,734
Total 1,462,450

 

Donations allocated by REG

Donors can choose to let REG decide where to allocate their donations[3]. These donations are used for re-granting to REG-selected charities exclusively, and are not used to cover our own expenses.

In 2016, REG allocated a total of $194,021 in donations. We allocated these funds as follows:

Charity Amount (in $)
Animal Ethics 21,831
Center for Effective Vegan Advocacy 10,673
Machine Intelligence Research Institute 117,562
Nonhuman Rights Project 10,673
The Humane Slaughter Associaton 22,456
Swiss Vegan Society 10,826
Total 194,021


Funds raised for EAF

In addition to the donations listed above, REG has raised $65,612 for the Effective Altruism Foundation, REG’s mother organization. We are not including this in our totals (anymore) because EAF funds might be used to cover REG’s expenses[2]. 

Highlights of 2016

Tom and Martin Crowley’s contributions to Dan Smith’s donation drive: A large share of donations in 2016 was raised through Dan Smith’s fundraiser. Professional Daily Fantasy Sports players Martin and Tom Crowley chipped in and donated an incredible total of $1,025,000 to AMF, GiveDirectly, and SCI. (We have not included the rest of the donations raised through this fundraiser in our total donations figure as REG’s influence on these donations was somewhat less direct.)

Dimi and Dan Shak’s matching challenge: Dimi and Dan Shak successfully held a matching challenge, in which they offered to match donations up to $35,000 for the REG board to allocate, resulting in $70,000 raised in total.

All In For Africa charity tournaments: As in previous years, All in For Africa, one of REG’s partners, hosted their fourth and fifth charity poker tournaments for the Against Malaria Foundation. AIFA IV at Canterbury Park, MN, raised $14,000 in April and AIFA V at the Running Aces casino in Columbus, MN, raised an additional $8,400 in September. Led by chief organizer Steve Fredlund, AIFA thus raised a total of $22,400 to the benefit of the Against Malaria Foundation in 2016.

Roman Romanovsky’s charity marathon for a better world: Roman Romanovsky is currently holding a charity marathon and plans to donate two thirds of his $600,000 profit goal to highly cost-effective charities once the marathon is completed.

Individual contributions: Many individual REG members and supporters contributed to our work and to the work of REG-recommended charities by donating part of their income. The support from these members of the REG community constitute the backbone of REG’s work.

Allocation by cause area

REG charities fall into one of four cause areas; global poverty alleviation, animal welfare and climate change, cause neutral metacharities, and research. Each cause area received the following funding from REG.

1. Poverty alleviation

$1,199,572 (82% of all donations raised) went to charities working on alleviating suffering from poverty-related causes. REG’s fund ratio for poverty alleviation in 2016 is 1:14 (1:13.83)[4]. As in the year before, the largest single recipient of REG donations in this cause area was the Against Malaria foundation, who received $922,557 in donations in 2016.

The charities included in this cause area are:

  • Against Malaria Foundation
  • GiveDirectly
  • GiveWell
  • New Incentives
  • Schistosomiasis Control Initiative

2. Animal welfare and climate change

$89,590 (6% of all donations raised) went to charities working on preventing or alleviating suffering of animals, especially in factory farming. These charities can also have an impact on a range of global problems, including climate change, global hunger, water shortage, and risk of pandemics. REG’s fund ratio for animal welfare and climate change in 2016 is 1:1 (1:1.03)[4]The largest single recipient of REG donations in this cause are was Animal Ethics, who received $22,935 in 2016.

The charities included in this cause area are:

  • Albert Schweitzer Foundation
  • Animal Charity Evaluators
  • Animal Ethics
  • Center for Effective Vegan Advocacy
  • Mercy for Animals
  • Nonhuman Rights Project
  • Sentience Politics
  • Swiss Vegan Society
  • The Humane League
  • The Humane Slaughter Association

3. Cause neutral meta charities 

$5,652 (0.39% of all donations raised) went to charities working to build the effective altruism movement. REG’s fund ratio in this cause area in 2016 is 1:0 (1:0.06)[4]The only recipient of donations in this cause area was the Center for Effective Altruism, who received $5,652 in 2016. Additionally, the Effective Altruism Foundation received $65,612 which we didn’t include in the fund ratio, as stated above.

4. Research

$167,636 (11% of all donations raised) went to charities doing technical research on global catastrophic risks and risks of astronomical future suffering. REG’s fund ratio in this cause area in 2016 is 1:2 (1:1.93)[4]. The largest recipient of donations in this cause area was the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, who received $121,657 in 2016.

The charities included in this area are:

  • Foundational Research Institute
  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute

 

Disclosure of conflicts of interest

Both Sentience Politics (SP) and the Foundational Research Institute (FRI) are projects incubated by the Effective Altruism Foundation, REG’s parent organization. Staff members at FRI are on the board of the Effective Altruism Foundation.

Footnotes:

[1] The $86,744 estimate is based on REG’s expenses in 2015. The final numbers will become available around June 2017, and we don’t expect them to deviate significantly from our current estimate.

[2] In the first semiannual report on money moved (S1) of 2016, we included some donations going to REG ($25,000) and EAF ($11,676), respectively. We decided not to include these donations in the total amount raised or the REG fund ratio anymore.

[3] To have REG allocate their donation, donors used to mark a box called ‘unrestricted’ on our donation page. We have since changed this box to say ‘I want REG to select a charity for me’ as some donors found the “unrestricted” / “restricted” terminology confusing.

[4] This metric assumes that an observer only cares about a particular cause area. The fund ratio specific to a cause area-specific is thus calculated by taking the donations raised for charities in this cause area and dividing them by REG’s overall expenses, thus ignoring all REG donations moved to other cause areas.

Appendix: Recipient Charities 2016

A. Poverty Alleviation

The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) facilitates the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to protect families at night, when mosquitoes are most active. The large-scale distributions are monitored closely to guarantee that the nets reach their destination and are used the right way. The evidence is strong that insecticide-treated bed nets reduce child mortality and malaria cases, making AMF GiveWell’s top pick for saving lives.

GiveDirectly transfers money directly to the world’s extreme poor in Kenya and Uganda, who then use it on what is most important to them. Evidence suggests that these transfers generate large income gains for these households. The money is invested in e.g. housing, important equipment or education for children. GiveDirectly is currently one of GiveWell’s top-rated charities.

GiveWell evaluates various charities on their impact and cost-effectiveness. GiveWell releases their research publicly and provides a list of charities it considers to be the most cost-effective.

New Incentives aims to incentivize mothers to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV by giving them cash transfers for collecting antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), delivering in a clinic, and getting their newborns tested for HIV. New Incentives has been supported by the charity evaluator GiveWell in the past, but did not gain top charity status in 2016 due to insufficient evidence supporting the program. It has since shifted its focus to conditional cash transfers to incentivize immunizations in Nigeria.

The effectiveness of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) is supported by many large studies and national control programs. SCI focuses on so-called “neglected tropical diseases” (NTDs) and sets up administration programs to distribute cheap treatments (mostly deworming) on a large-scale. Like other deworming charities, SCI benefits not just health but also indirectly increases school attendance. SCI is currently one of GiveWell’s top-rated charities.

B. Animal Charities

Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) find and promote the most effective ways to help animals. Animal Charities Evaluators analyze research on methods of helping animals in order to provide research of interventions and top-charity recommendations, as well as offering suggestions on being a more effective animal advocate by providing career, charity, and volunteering advice.

Animal Ethics works to spread anti-speciesist messages in academia and to a general audience. They research topics related to anti-speciesism and animal issues, particularly wild animal suffering, and write up their findings in academic papers and essays aimed at a general audience.

The Center for Effective Vegan Advocacy (CEVA) aims to increase the impact of vegan advocacy worldwide. CEVA is a program of Beyond Carnism, a charitable organization dedicated to exposing and transforming carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals but not others. CEVA’s outreach activities to educate about and challenge carnism (and thus speciesism) as effectively as possible shows great promise to reduce the suffering of sentient beings.

The Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) promotes the humane treatment of all food animals worldwide. It provides technical information about handling and slaughter, staff training, and funding of science and technology and gives advice to governments and industry to make slaughter more humane.

Mercy for Animals (MFA) is one of the leading advocates for farmed animals. MFA performs undercover investigations, publicizes their findings in online campaigns, and conducts corporate campaigns to improve the conditions of farmed animals.

The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is an organization seeking to change the legal status of at least some nonhuman animals from that of property to that of persons, who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty. NhRP’s work seems especially promising because it could create a precedence for anti-speciesist legislation.

Sentience Politics is an anti-speciesist political think-tank. It advocates a society which grants moral consideration to all sentient beings, regardless of their species membership. Sentience Politics uses rationality and empirical science in order to identify and implement the most effective strategies for reducing as much suffering as possible. In May 2016, Sentience Politics organized the first Sentience Conference in Berlin, Germany.

The Swiss Vegan Society (VGS)  promotes a vegan lifestyle, especially in Switzerland. It was founded in 2011 and offers information to people who are interested in a vegan diet. The VGS has increasingly aligned its work with the principles of effective altruism.

C. Cause-neutral meta charities

The Oxford-based Center for Effective Altruism (CEA) is the biggest hub of effective altruists. Their focus is on research and movement-building. Their two main projects are Giving What We Can, a community of people who pledge to donate at least 10% of their income to effective charities, and 80’000 Hours, an organization focused on career advice for people who want to optimize their career choice in order to have a bigger positive impact.

D. Research

The Foundational Research Institute (FRI) brings together researchers from diverse fields to examine how humanity can best reduce suffering in the future. We draw on insights from artificial intelligence, technology, anthropic reasoning, international relations, sociology, public policy, ethics, animal welfare, and many other disciplines.

The Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) does foundational mathematical research to ensure smarter-than-human artificial intelligence has a positive impact. As more and more human cognitive feats come to be reproduced by artificially intelligent systems, we can expect to encounter a number of unprecedented risks and benefits. These and other under-explored questions will only become more pressing as progress in computer science allows AI systems to act with increasing autonomy and efficiency.