It’s all about the Bordens (aka, Canadian Benjamins)

A Mid-2018 RC Forward Update

Rethink Charity Forward’s maiden voyage proved to be a successful one. In fact, that may be an understatement. At present, we support 20 high-impact charities, ranging in cause from combating malaria, to making animal cruelty obsolete, to slowing the robots en route to the eventual enslavement of mankind. Most of these are charities to which Canadians would not be able to donate tax efficiently without the aid of RC Forward.

We are excited to announce that RC Forward’s inaugural disbursements of funds are seeing $3,611,142.94 (CAD)* moved to effective charities!

*Ah, the dreaded asterisk. This particular asterisk means several things:

  • Not all of this money was raised in the first half of 2018. Some of it is carried over from Giving Season 2017. So, Happy (rollover) Holidays!
  • We have Charity Science to thank for an existing donor base and for facilitating many of these donations throughout our transition. This means that many funds went through and were processed by Charity Science before being passed to RC Forward. Charity Science Fist Bump.
  • As of posting this, some donations from Q2 2018 (totalling $74,331.73) are in the process of being disbursed and have not yet been distributed to respective charities.
  • A large portion of this (~$2.9m) came from a single donor in the form of two cryptocurrency donations to MIRI (~$1.3m CAD) and AMF (~$1.6m). The latter was only referred by RC Forward. Though we did not handle this donation directly, it is unlikely the donation would have been made otherwise.
  • We are uncertain about how counterfactual the total donations are. However, we would note that it would have been otherwise impossible for donors to receive tax benefits on donations to the majority of charities listed here.

Let’s break down these numbers a bit.

RC Forward Funds

First, the funds. RC Forward began with four cause area-specific funds, but has since chosen to retire one of those four. We bid farewell to the Future Prosperity Fund, which was aimed at supporting too broad an array of causes: AI research, the environment, and rationality education. How do you even compare these?! (Rhetorical question, you-know-who-you-are.) The good news is that you can still donate to these specific charities individually (here, here, and here); we just choose not to bear the crushing moral burden of having to fairly distribute among them.

Here’s how the funds fared:

  • Global Health Fund – $231,457.81 – 70% ($162,020.47) to AMF & 30% ($69,437.34) to SCI, as per GiveWell’s most recent recommended allocation. This includes donations through Charity Science labeled as ‘unrestricted for GiveWell’s top charities.’
  • Human Empowerment Fund – $30,988.25 – 100% to GiveDirectly as per GiveWell’s recommendations.
  • Animal Welfare Fund – $14,323.67 – First quarter funds were split evenly between ACE’s three top charities, $3,941.00 each to Animal Equality, The Humane League, and The Good Food Institute, as per ACE’s recommendations. Second quarter funds have yet to be disbursed.
  • Future Prosperity Fund (R.I.P.) – $2,997.46 – First quarter funds were split evenly between three wildly different charities: $620.33 each to CFAR, Cool Earth, and MIRI. Oh, and the extra cent went to CFAR. Sorry, Cool Earth and MIRI. Second quarter funds have yet to be disbursed.

Cryptocurrency Donations

Into the future we march. RC Forward is excited to be on the front lines with the CHIMP Foundation, facilitating some of the first Cryptocurrency donations in Canada. Though we’ve only had one crypto donor so far, they have been remarkably generous.

The first piece of their donation was $1,022,727.27 USD ($1,334,505.68 CAD) to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI), the largest single donation by an individual in MIRI’s history. The second is a whopping $1,576,358.59 CAD to the Against Malaria Foundation. Though the donor has noted they would not have been aware of the option to make these donations without the direction of RC Forward, the AMF donation would have been technically possible without our assistance.

Individual Charity Disbursements

As you may have noticed, the sum of cause area-specific funds doesn’t even come close to matching our total money moved. That’s because a majority of donations that came through our system were earmarked for specific charities, not a fund. Below is a list of disbursements to individual charities, which does not include donations made through RC Forward Funds. Please note that the cryptocurrency donations are included in the MIRI and AMF figures below.

Charity – Fundraising Total (CAD)

  • Against Malaria Foundation – $1,784,977.85
  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute – $1,363,174.04
  • GiveDirectly – $294,545.21
  • RC Forward- Operations – $17,616.65
  • Schistosomiasis Control Initiative – $14,258.13
  • Evidence Action – $15,992.02
  • Cool Earth – $3,112.48
  • Living Goods – $2,614.27
  • Good Food Institute – $2,331.27
  • GiveWell – $2,125.68
  • Animal Charity Evaluators (all for programs/ops) – $1,679.89
  • Project Healthy Children – $1,524.85
  • Iodine Global Network – $1,425.00
  • SENS Research Foundation – $1,000.00
  • The Humane League – $229.84
  • Development Media International – $150.00
  • StrongMinds – $35.00
  • Animal Equality – $19.90

Total – $3,506,812.08

Fees

Important to note, RC Forward itself doesn’t charge any fees. Period. We even do our best to cover the third-party ones (more on that below) out of our own operations budget, as evidence suggests doing so may increase the likelihood and/or amount that a donor will give.

Some notes on fees:

  1. CHIMP, our platform provider, charges a small credit card fee for online donations. Depending on the credit card, this is somewhere between 2% and 3%. It’s why we ask for larger donors to give by cheque or electronic transfer. Most of them do, so we’ve minimized losses here. All told, $3,181.18 (0.45% of total donations) went to credit card fees. RC Forward does not cover credit card fees, though we have considered doing so in the future. These fees have already been factored in to the disbursement amounts above.
  2. Sadly, a small loss of value when converting currencies is inevitable, due to banks using conversion rates favorable to them. However, RC Forward ensures that disbursements are made in large sums, which generally allows banks to provide more favorable rates, thus minimizing losses.
  3. The organization that facilitates our cross-border donations charges 4% on the first $200,000 of the year across the border and 0.5% on anything beyond that (a discount from their normal fees, for which we’re hugely appreciative). All told, we paid $15,741.56 in fees. This came out of RC Forward’s operating budget and did not affect the amount that made it to the charities. We’re just telling you because we’re fishing for compliments.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Charity Science, who have been unbelievably patient and helpful as we transition donors to RC Forward. Special thanks also to CHIMP, who have provided us with about the sexiest giving platform we’ve seen. We’re only as good as our collaborators. Lastly, and most importantly, thank you to all the generous, intelligent, attractive, well-rounded donors out there who gave (and continue to give) to some of the best charities in the world.