Poker helps reduce suffering as REG reveals $1.4m in 2016 donations

Poker helps reduce suffering as REG reveals $1.4m in 2016 donations

Raising for Effective Giving release their third annual transparency report showing the poker community donated over $1.4m to charities against operating expenditure of $86,744.

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) and the election of Donald Trump have proven the importance of where we place our attention.

Poker helps reduce suffering as REG reveals $1.4m in 2016 donationsTake off your reading glasses, throw that tabloid newspaper into the trash, and turn the TV off.

Focus on this.

Raising for Effective Giving (REG), the meta-charity built from scratch by a group of poker players and effective altruists has released their third Annual Transparency Report, and it’s good news.

While some quarters of the world focus on building walls to keep people out of their lives, REG and their members are fighting to reduce the suffering that those people face on a daily basis.

In 2016, REG members raised $1,462,450 for ‘highly cost-effective’ charities. Expenses came in at a paltry $86,744, to provide a Fund Ratio of 1:17 (an effectiveness metric).

As a poker-themed charity, it would be remiss of them to not focus on the long term. Over the three years, REG has existed, they have raised $2,293,238, spent $214,025 on expenses, for a fund ratio of 1:11.

The Fund Ratio metric comes with a caveat:

“We think the overall fund ratio is a suboptimal way to assess REG’s impact and should thus be interpreted with caution.” Said a REG representative.

Much of the praise for last year’s excellent results go to Dan Smith who managed to persuade Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) professionals Tom & Martin Crowley to donate $1,025,000 to effective charities during a ‘matching’ charity drive he was behind.

Smith was recognised for his incredible achievement by the poker community when he became the recipient of the American Poker Award for Charity Initiative of the Year at a recent awards ceremony held in glitzy Beverly Hills.

But we need to consider how Smith found his way into the world of effective altruism and for that you have to thank the REG members for pushing the word out to the community in the first place.

The Word is Getting Out

And the word is getting out.

A few months ago, American author and philosopher, Sam Harris, decided to change his worldview on charitable giving during an interview with the creator of EA, William MacAskill – no mean feat if you are aware of the workings of the mind of Harris. Today, a percentage of the money earned through Sam’s Waking Up podcast goes to effective charities as recognised by GiveWell.

And REG thinks that their impressive numbers are underrepresented, and I happen to believe them. It was REG that turned me on to the effectiveness of effective altruism. I read The Life You Can Save and The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer, and Doing Good Better by William MacAskill.

As my knowledge started to grow, I wanted to spread the word via my other love: helping people suffering from addiction. The Needy Altruist was born, and I now donate 5% of all income earned through my company to effective charities.

One of the focal reasons that people relapse from alcohol abuse, in particular, is because they have no meaning and purpose. Working with one of my community members on this issue, we talked about the power of service, and today, he is a faithful donator to effective charities.

That’s the reach that REG has had on the world, and why their numbers are very much underrepresented.

Who Benefited?

Here are the charities that benefited from REG and their members in 2016. It’s interesting to see the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) ranking highly in the year that the AI Libratus defeated four professional poker players as researchers continue to improve General Intelligence AIs.

It’s not just about poker.

Top 5 Benefited Charities (By Donor)
1. Against Malaria Foundation – $922,557
2. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative – $224,315
3. Machine Intelligence Research Institute – $121,657
4. GiveDirectly – $51,571
5. Foundational Research Institute – $45,979

Top 5 Benefited Charities (Allocated by REG)*
1. Machine Intelligence Research Institute – $117,562
2. The Humane Slaughter Association – $22,456
3. Animal Ethics – $21,831
4. Swiss Vegan Society – $10,826
5. Centre For Effective Vegan Advocacy & Nonhuman Rights Project – $10,673
*REG allows the donor to give the responsibility of sharing a person’s donation in the best way they see fit.