This page provides an overview of my history with charity evaluator GiveWell. I’m putting this up primarily as a reference point for people who come across my writings about GiveWell so that they can get a fuller context of my interaction with them. See also my page on the Open Philanthropy Project. See also my donation history page and my page about effective altruism.
I keep drafts of some posts and comments related to GiveWell here, but this folder may not include brief comments such as those made on open threads.
I have also made a number of predictions related to GiveWell on PredictionBook, that you can scroll through on my PredictionBook profile. Unfortunately, their site search relies on Google, which is not reliable about indexing predictions, hence you’ll have to manually go through my predictions to get a list of all GiveWell-related predictions.
Some of my past history:
- December 2009: I first examined the work of GiveWell. I believe the impetus was a Bloggingheads diavlog between Peter Singer and William Easterly. See also my donation history page.
- February or March 2010: I made a $2,000 donation to VillageReach, my first to the organization. See also my donation history page.
- Some time between August and November 2010: I had a phone conversation with one of the GiveWell staff (I vaguely remember it being Holden, but I could be mistaken). The main reason I believe that was the time range is that I believe it happened either during or just before or after their India site visit.
- August 2011 (approximately): GiveWell made me an ombudsman. You can see the historical ombudsman records page. You can also see my first email to the mailing list announcing myself as ombudsman (see note at the bottom). The position has been deprecated for a while as of August 2016, though there was no specific date of deprecation.
- July and August 2011: In July 2011, I drafted a guest post for the GiveWell blog, describing my own history as a donor. The post was published in August 2011 on the GiveWell blog with the title Guest post from Vipul Naik.
- 2011 and 2012: I participated somewhat in the GiveWell mailing list, and also sent occasional questions and suggestions about the website. In October 2012, I had a conversation with Holden Karnofsky about freedom of movement (inspired by him seeing me having started Open Borders: The Case; see my page about it). The conversation wasn’t recorded, though I did take some notes and send a follow-up email, but it was not intended for public circulation.
- March to May 2013: Jonah Sinick, who was then working at GiveWell, encouraged me to consider applying to GiveWell for after finishing my doctoral program. I talked briefly with Elie Hassenfeld about joining GiveWell. I was given a take-home assignment. However, I delayed a lot on finishing it. GiveWell had mentioned that they intend to hire three more people and are in no hurry to hire, hence I did not hurry. It turned out, however, that they were able to fill all three positions before I got around to turning in the assignment, so I was rejected. Jonah left GiveWell around the end of April 2013, at about the same time as I was rejected. Since working with Jonah was one of the main reasons for my interest, I did not press further with trying to join GiveWell (some people who have been initially rejected have succeeded on pressing further; I believe this could have been the case with me). Over time I feel it turned out for the better, as I was anyway delayed with finishing my Ph.D., and my career has taken a very different trajectory that I believe is more suitable for me (for more on my current trajectory, see my job page).
- April 12, 2014: I published Evaluating GiveWell as a startup idea based on Paul Graham’s philosophy, LessWrong.
- August 2014: I attended an in-person GiveWell research meeting at their San Francisco office. I did not participate actively. It was a large meeting where GiveWell staff presented content and a few people asked questions.
- December 2015: I published a post on the Effective Altruism Form titled GiveWell money moved forecasts and implications.
- May 2016: I published a follow-up post reviewing my forecasts: GiveWell money moved in 2015: a review of my forecast and some future predictions. This has some addenda at the end with more recent updates, and links to relevant predictions on PredictionBook.
- June to August 2016 (and continuing): I have sponsored work by Issa Rice, some of which involves investigating GiveWell and its reviews and recommended charities. Examples of work that has resulted from this sponsorship: GiveWell executive compensation, GiveWell staff growth, June 2016 GiveWell board meeting.
- January 14, 2017: I wrote up some notes on GiveWell’s website redesign costs, and also posted about it on Facebook (GitHub mirror of post, without the comments).
- July 4, 2017: I posted in the GiveWell Community Facebook group about GiveWell’s evolving approach to accountability (GitHub mirror).
I have often posted comments on the GiveWell blog and sent emails to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, and suggestions. In addition, Issa Rice has also posted comments and sent emails in connection with research he has done under my pay.
Some of my comments that might be particularly interesting to readers:
- My comment at “The moral case for giving doesn’t rely on questionable quantitative estimates”, June 2013.
- Two comments by me in the June 2016 open thread, June 2016.
- My comment on the post “Mid-year update to top charity recommendations”, June 2016 (reply by Natalie in July 2016). I sent two email follow-ups before receiving a reply to the comment. The email follow-ups may not have been necessary to get a reply.
- Multiple comments by me on GiveWell’s September 2017 open thread, including a couple about GiveWell’s 2016 money moved metrics, and a couple suggesting separate pages listing discretionary regrants and publicly disclosed participation grants.