Our 2018 Fundraiser Review

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Our 2018 Fundraiser ended on December 31 with the five week campaign raising $951,8171 from 348 donors to help advance MIRI’s mission. We surpassed our Mainline Target ($500k) and made it more than halfway again to our Accelerated Growth Target ($1.2M). We’re grateful to all of you who supported us. Thank you!


Fundraiser Concluded

348 donors contributed

With cryptocurrency prices significantly lower than during our 2017 fundraiser, we received less of our funding (~6%) from holders of cryptocurrency this time around. Despite this, our fundraiser was a success, in significant part thanks to the leverage gained by MIRI supporters’ participation in multiple matching campaigns during the fundraiser, including WeTrust Spring’s Ethereum-matching campaign, Facebook’s Giving Tuesday event and professional poker player Dan Smith’s Double Up Drive, expertly administered by Raising for Effective Giving.

Together with significant matching funds generated through donors’ employer matching programs, matching donations accounted for ~37% of the total funds raised during the fundraiser.

1. WeTrust Spring

MIRI participated, along with 17 other non-profit organizations, in WeTrust’s Spring innovative ETH-matching event, which ran thru Giving Tuesday, November 27. The event was the first-ever implementation of Glen Weyl, Zoë Hitzig, and Vitalik Buterin’s Liberal Radicalism (LR) model for non-profit funding matching. Unlike most matching campaigns, which match exclusively based on total amount donated, this campaign matched in a way that heavily factored in the number of unique donors when divvying out the matching pool, a feature WeTrust highlighted as “Democratic Donation Matching”.

During MIRI’s week-long campaign leading up to Giving Tuesday, some supporters went deep into trying to determine exactly what instantiation of the model WeTrust had created — how exactly DO the large donations provide leverage of 450% match rate for minimum donations of .1 ETH? Our supporters’ excitement about this new matching model was also evident in the many donations that were made — as WeTrust reported in their blog post, “MIRI, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute was the winner, clocking in 64 qualified donations totaling 147.751 ETH, then Lupus Foundation in second with 22 qualified donations and 23.851 total ETH.” Thanks to our supporters’ donations, MIRI received over 91% of the matching funds allotted by WeTrust and, all told, we received ETH worth more than $31,000 from the campaign. Thank you!

2. Facebook Giving Tuesday Event

Some of our hardiest supporters set their alarms clocks extra early to support us in Facebook’s Giving Tuesday matching event, which kicked off at 5:00am EST on Giving Tuesday. Donations made before the $7M matching pool was exhausted were matched 1:1 by Facebook/PayPal, up to a maximum of $250,000 per organization, and a limit of $20,000 per donor, and $2500 per donation.

MIRI supporters, some with our tipsheet in hand, pointed their browsers — and credit cards — at MIRI’s fundraiser Facebook Page (and another page set up by the folks behind the EA Giving Tuesday Donation Matching Initiative — thank you Avi and William!), and clicked early and often. During the previous year’s event, it took only 86 seconds for the $2M matching pool to be exhausted. This year saw a significantly larger $7M pool being exhausted dramatically quicker, sometime in the 16th second. Fortunately, before it ended, 11 MIRI donors had already made 20 donations totalling $40,072.


Overall, 66% of the $61,023 donated to MIRI on Facebook on Giving Tuesday was matched by Facebook/PayPal, resulting in a total of $101,095. Thank you to everyone who participated, especially the early risers who so effectively leveraged matching funds on MIRI’s behalf including Quinn Maurmann, Richard Schwall, Alan Chang, William Ehlhardt, Daniel Kokotajlo, John Davis, Herleik Holtan and others. You guys rock!

You can read more about the general EA community’s fundraising performance on Giving Tuesday in Ari Norowitz’s retrospective on the EA Forum.

3. Double Up Drive Challenge

DoubleUpDrive - Multiply your impact doubleupdrive.com

Poker player Dan Smith and a number of his fellow professional players came together for another end-of-year Matching Challenge — once again administered by Raising for Effective Giving (REG), who have facilitated similar matching opportunities in years past.

Starting on Giving Tuesday, November 27, $940,000 in matching funds was made available for eight charities focused on near-term causes (Malaria Consortium, GiveDirectly, Helen Keller International, GiveWell, Animal Charity Evaluators, Good Food Institute, StrongMinds and the Massachusetts Bail Fund); and, with the specific support of poker pro Aaron Merchak, $200,000 in matching funds was made available for two charities focused on improving the long-term future of our civilization, MIRI and REG.

With the addition of an anonymous sponsor to Dan’s roster in early December, an extra $150,000 was added to the near-term causes pool and, then, a week later, after his win at the DraftKings World Championship, Tom Crowley followed through on his pledge to donate half of his total event winnings to the drive, adding significantly increased funding, $1.127M, to the drive’s overall matching pool as well as 2 more organizations — Against Malaria Foundation and EA Funds’ Long-Term Future Fund.

The last few days of the Drive saw a whirlwind of donations being made to all organizations, causing the pool of $2.417M to be exhausted 24 hours before the declared end of the drive (December 29) at which point Martin Crowley came in to match all donations made in the last day, thus increasing the matched donations to over $2.7M.

In total, MIRI donors had $229,000 matched during the event. We’re very grateful to all these donors, to Dan Smith for instigating this phenomenally successful event, and to his fellow sponsors and especially Aaron Merchak and Martin Crowley for matching donations made to MIRI. Finally, a big shout-out to REG for facilitating and administering so effectively – thank you Stefan and Alfredo!

4. Corporate Matching

A number of MIRI supporters work at corporations that match contributions made by their employees to 501(c)(3) organizations like MIRI. During the duration of MIRI’s fundraiser, over $62,000 in matching funds from various Employee Matching Programs was leveraged by our supporters, adding to the significant matching corporate funds already leveraged during 2018 by these and other MIRI supporters.


We’re extremely grateful for all the support we received during this fundraiser, especially the effective leveraging of the numerous matching opportunities, and are excited about the opportunity it creates for us to continue to grow our research team.

If you know of — or want to discuss — any giving/matching/support MIRI opportunities in 2019, please get in touch with me2 at colm@intelligence.org. Thank you!

  1. The exact total is still subject to change as we continue to process a small number of donations.

  2. Colm Ó Riain is MIRI’s Head of Growth. Colm coordinates MIRI’s philanthropic and recruitment strategy to support MIRI’s growth plans.