Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity!

post by lukeprog · 2014-05-04T23:45:25.469Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 48 comments


  Read our strategy below, then give here!
  The plan
    donors, we especially need your help!
  Hours to target in order of importance
      So if you are giving in the 5 pm hour try and give right at the beginning of the hour.
    line, for every hour you are awake, give $10 an hour.
    preferentially to the hours above, if unable to give during all waking hours.

(Cross-posted from MIRI's blog. MIRI maintains Less Wrong, with generous help from Trike Apps, and much of the core content is written by salaried MIRI staff members.)

Update: I'm liveblogging the fundraiser here.

Read our strategy below, then give here!

SVGives logo lrgAs previously announced, MIRI is participating in a massive 24-hour fundraiser on May 6th, called SV Gives. This is a unique opportunity for all MIRI supporters to increase the impact of their donations. To be successful we'll need to pre-commit to a strategy and see it through. If you plan to give at least $10 to MIRI sometime this year, during this event would be the best time to do it!

The plan

We need all hands on deck to help us win the following prize as many times as possible:

$2,000 prize for the nonprofit that has the most individual donors in an hour, every hour for 24 hours.

To paraphrase, every hour, there is a $2,000 prize for the organization that has the most individual donors during that hour. That's a total of $48,000 in prizes, from sources that wouldn't normally give to MIRI.  The minimum donation is $10, and an individual donor can give as many times as they want. Therefore we ask our supporters to:

  1. give $10 an hour, during every hour of the fundraiser that they are awake (I'll be up and donating for all 24 hours!);
  2. for those whose giving budgets won't cover all those hours, see below for list of which hours you should privilege; and
  3. publicize this effort as widely as possible.

International donors, we especially need your help!

MIRI has a strong community of international supporters, and this gives us a distinct advantage! While North America sleeps, you'll be awake, ready to target all of the overnight $2,000 hourly prizes.

Hours to target in order of importance

To increase our chances of winning these prizes we want to preferentially target the hours that will see the least donation traffic from donors of other participating organizations. Below are the top 12 hours we'd like to target in order of importance. Remember that all times are in Pacific Time. (Click on an hour to see what time it is in your timezone.)

For the 5 pm hour there is an additional prize I think we can win:

$1,000 golden ticket added to the first 50 organizations receiving gifts in the 5 pm hour.

So if you are giving in the 5 pm hour try and give right at the beginning of the hour.

Bottom line, for every hour you are awake, give $10 an hour.

 Give preferentially to the hours above, if unable to give during all waking hours.

We also have plans to target the $300,000 in matching funds up for grabs during the event. If you would like to contribute $500 or more to this effort, shoot Malo an email at  

For those who want to follow along and contribute to the last minute planning, as well as receive updates and giving reminders during the event, sign up here.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Dias · 2014-05-05T02:31:08.018Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd just like to say I really admire the level of organization and coordination displayed here. It increases my confidence in MIRI and makes me more likely to donate. Congratulations Malo!

Replies from: seez, malo, JoshuaFox
comment by seez · 2014-05-06T22:09:32.402Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seriously! I just overheard someone say "wow, maybe all that rationality stuff actually does help them do better."

Replies from: Louie
comment by Louie · 2014-05-06T22:44:30.464Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's cool. Where did you hear that?

Replies from: seez
comment by seez · 2014-05-06T22:47:32.127Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Silicon Valley. With a group of people who know about LessWrong but are dubious about its instrumental value.

comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-05T03:15:36.654Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Glad to hear it, and thanks for the kind words!

comment by JoshuaFox · 2014-05-07T06:47:04.501Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes! I've been wondering if LW's online community can coordinate and cooperate, and this is a good sign that it can.

comment by Vulture · 2014-05-06T21:47:54.703Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wow, MIRI is killing out there! It almost feels sort of mean, winning this hard at a charity fundraiser... keep up the good work, guys!

Replies from: Skeptityke
comment by Skeptityke · 2014-05-07T02:50:56.100Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry to respond here, but it's a bit important. We are actually behind first place by about 8 donors, so recruiting an extra 8+ people total may allow us to win the grand prize.

Replies from: Vulture
comment by Vulture · 2014-05-07T02:58:31.348Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Totally cool with me. I've hijacked my own comment over on SSC to make the same plea :-)

comment by Desrtopa · 2014-05-07T05:18:28.914Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to read everything that was posted to Main, but I wasn't even aware that this was going on until Alicorn contacted me about it through IM. I'd take this as a warning that a Main page post is probably significantly less effective advertizing than it once was (at least in terms of the proportion of membership reached if not in terms of absolute numbers.)

comment by Skeptityke · 2014-05-07T01:52:57.322Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is somewhat important:

We suspect that anonymous donations don't count towards the "unique donations" total, so if you are donating, please register your name to ensure that you are counted.

Thank you!

comment by Rain · 2014-05-07T02:39:41.463Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't realize the grand prize was based on daily unique donors until I got the 'urgent' email. I got my dad to chip in $10, too. Looks like the other leading organization has more friends and family.

comment by steven0461 · 2014-05-07T02:39:54.495Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

MIRI is now in a close race for the prize for the most total unique donors over the 24 hours, which adds a lot of additional value to $10 donations by people who haven't donated yet.

comment by Skeptityke · 2014-05-06T16:27:42.773Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Miscellaneous thoughts:

It's very heartening to see so many of these golden tickets so far having gone our way. Go team! Yay for group cooperation! \(n_n)/

I am a bit confused about what happened at 3 and 4 AM, though. Since the early morning hours were being targeted specifically, did the other charities cooperate and focus their efforts specifically on those time slots, or were there just not enough people awake to win at those times?

EDIT: Apparently, the people running the fundraiser initially accidentally had it set up so that each organization was only capable of winning one hourly golden ticket, and after MIRI contacted them, they fixed it, permitting that 20-ticket winning streak.

(Also, DAMN do the matching funds run out fast. Yeah, that makes going for the 2000 dollar tickets rather than the matching funds a much better strategy than I expected. I didn't realize that the matching fund pool was for all charities combined.)

(And even though MIRI almost certainly would have come up with this strategy without the previous post on the matter, I’m still getting fuzzies by proxy for feeling like I helped raise awareness/strategize.)

comment by blogospheroid · 2014-05-06T12:50:56.244Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Gave 3 small $10 donations over the last 3 hrs.

Weird question - why is MIRI classified as a > 2M$ charity. Did it actually pull in that much last year? I'm , for some reason, not able to open and check it myself..

Replies from: raisin
comment by raisin · 2014-05-06T14:32:10.973Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For the year 2012 total revenue was $1,633,946. The financials for 2013 don't seem to be available, but probably it was even higher then.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-05-07T00:24:51.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Lucky thing I stayed up late. I can throw you guys $18 for the 5pm hour.

Aaaaaand done.

comment by beoShaffer · 2014-05-05T04:57:32.793Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The timezone conversion links aren't set up right. For most of them the first two characters lead to a different pare than the other characters.

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-05T05:19:56.643Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Weird not sure how that happened. Fixed in the blog post. Luke should be updating the LW post momentarily.

Thanks for catching that!

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2014-05-05T00:44:56.359Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

that they are awake (I'll be up and donating for all 24 hours!) [...] While North America sleeps, you'll be awake

What does being awake have to do with anything? Aren't you people supposed to know something about computers?

Replies from: malo, None, Benquo, DeevGrape
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-05T01:00:13.469Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm sure there are ways to do that, but very few people know how to use those tools.

As for MIRI staff staying up there are other reasons to do so, such as monitoring the giving patterns of other orgs, and monitor our attempts to win matching and coordinate those individuals.

(Also FWIW, I think you could have made the suggestion about automating the process, which is a great and helpful idea, in a much nicer and constructive fashion.)

comment by [deleted] · 2014-05-05T23:49:14.696Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It would be good if you could give detailed instructions on how to do this.

comment by Benquo · 2014-05-05T05:31:55.084Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the links. I have never used Selenium before but may play with it for this. I expect it will be useful for future things too.

Update: Nope. Selenium is tricky and I'll have to figure out how to use Cron some other time. I'm not losing more sleep over this right now.

comment by DeevGrape · 2014-05-05T08:58:44.957Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Selenium add-on for Firefox definitely sound more fun than waking up every 1.9 hours.

comment by JoshuaFox · 2014-05-15T12:13:44.525Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Could we get a summary report (preferably in thrilling sportswriter style) on what happened in those 24 hours?

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-15T17:17:56.482Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We are definitely planning on doing this. Just waiting for all prizes to be officially awarded first.

comment by steven0461 · 2014-05-06T08:37:01.880Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The leaderboards for most unique donors seem pretty close between MIRI and the next contender, so additional $10 donations may be getting unusual value per dollar right now. (The first hour was close between MIRI and a different organization with both having something like 34 unique donors, so in that sort of situation, if the highest number wins, the expected value to MIRI of a donation might be on the rough order of $100.)

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-06T10:08:26.686Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We didn't win the 12 pm hour, but we won the 1 am hour! We also won the 408 prize of $2,500!

We have a live blog setup here, and a live feed of “the war room” at MIRI.

Replies from: steven0461
comment by steven0461 · 2014-05-06T10:27:22.951Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(MIRI lost the third hour despite being comfortably on top of the leaderboard: what matters is the increase over the last hour, so at this point the leaderboard is probably misleading as an indicator of how close things are.)

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-06T10:40:49.252Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The leaderboard is unique donors for the whole 24 hour period. But the prizes are for most unique donors in an hour, so the leaderboard won't tell us much.

comment by raisin · 2014-05-05T01:49:57.127Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So let's say I'm planning to donate once. If I want to make sure it has the most marginal utility, I'll just donate during 1am hour even though many other LWers probably also give during that time given that it's the first item on the list?

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-05T03:30:03.420Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


The reason is that we have no real data about how many donations in any given hour will be enough to win the $2,000. So the trade off we decided to take is to increase our likelihood of winning a few hours, at the expense of having an even distribution over more hours. Since I'm happier to win a few by a landslide, than loose all of them by a hair. Also, more practically, coordinating the latter approach is much more difficult on a large scale.

comment by seez · 2014-05-05T01:11:45.643Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In addition, and in case people forget, you may want to post this on the LW Facebook page, both now-ish and right before the event starts.

Replies from: malo, seez
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-05T01:28:55.360Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Done :)

Also boosting it with some ad dollars to increase the reach.

Replies from: seez
comment by seez · 2014-05-05T03:07:45.049Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

er, you did? I don't see it.

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-05T03:21:41.123Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's weird . . .

Do you see it here?

Replies from: seez
comment by seez · 2014-05-05T03:32:16.389Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh, yeah. I thought you meant you put it on the LessWrong Facebook group, not the MIRI Facebook page.

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-05T03:42:17.052Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ooh, I misread that.

I didn't even know there was a LW Facebook group! I've just requested access and will post momentarily.

comment by seez · 2014-05-05T01:13:21.957Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And ask people to bump it so it stays near the top.

comment by Adele_L · 2014-05-05T00:11:51.143Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Will Bitcoin donations count for this?

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-05T00:44:14.033Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They will not :(

All donations must be made through our page on Razoo. Razoo only accepts credit cards and debit cards.

Replies from: philh, Dr_Manhattan, DanArmak
comment by philh · 2014-05-05T11:19:38.942Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It might be worth saying that explicitly in the post, I didn't look at the links and was going to go to your normal donate page. (Which I see is currently just directing people to this post, so no loss, just minor friction.)

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2014-05-06T15:19:07.745Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And Paypal

comment by DanArmak · 2014-05-06T14:50:52.973Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, it seems they stopped accepting PayPal at some point in the past two hours?

ETA: never mind, I got it to work again. Had to delete cookies and restart. Previously the paypal option didn't even show up.

Replies from: djm
comment by djm · 2014-05-07T13:54:09.844Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes that must have been a glitch - I tried at the start to donate but it didn't work. 4 hours later when I tried it was fine, and again at the end.

comment by Skeptityke · 2014-05-06T23:52:44.648Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Only 40 donations have been made this hour, so would anybody else mind chipping in? They would probably be very high value donations, since it seems to be a bit below the threshold required to win an hour.

comment by AndrewE · 2014-05-06T19:57:48.651Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I assume the ideal time for larger donations is right after 6 and 7pm pst.

There isn't a cap on how much matching funds an individual donation can pick up, right?

Replies from: malo
comment by Malo (malo) · 2014-05-06T20:59:53.274Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


No cap. Email me for more details.