Seeds of Kindness

Seeds of Kindness Digest #1

Great thanks to all of you who have set up monthly donations for Seeds of Kindness! You are helping to bring forth great change, and allowing the Against Malaria Foundation to plan its future budget.

If you would like to set up monthly donations too, please do so through our fund-raiser:

sok.yoursiblings.org

A lot has happened within the effective altruism movement recently:

  1. Our Bound Together comic anthology is rapidly taking shape, and some artists have independently published WIPs and previews. Check out their portfolios in our original announcement. Preorders are still open.
  2. Peter Hurford’s great fundraising tips offer advice if you’d like to contribute to Seeds of Kindness but don’t have the financial means to make substantial donations yourself. Good luck with your event!
  3. The “2015 Gates Annual Letter” has been published. It addresses important topics such as opportunities for health and financial security for the poorest in the next fifteen years. The letter calls for “informed, passionate individuals working together to form effective movements for change. People who care about helping those in the world’s poorest places improve their lives. We call them global citizens.” That’s you!
  4. Six new studies show the limited and mixed effectiveness of microcredit, and show, by implication, the importance of informed, evidence-based altruism.
  5. Raising for Effective Giving promotes effective giving to top animal charities.
  6. One of our members has written an article titled Effective Altruism 101. It can serve as introduction for your friends who are interested in the effective altruism we facilitate in our fandom and can encourage them to join us.

Currently, our collaborative effort with the Against Malaria Foundation has raised enough funds for more than 2,500 mosquito nets, thus offering over 5,000 people protection from the deadly disease. Please help spread the word and donate to save even more lives!

Bound Together: The Comic and Art Anthology for Charity

Bound Together

We are excited to announce the upcoming release of Bound Together, an original charity comic and art anthology. Bringing together a team of some of the best artists in the fandom, this high-quality, full color and professionally printed book will feature up to 64 pages of pony comic stories and individual art pieces that will inspire and delight. Based around the themes of teamwork and togetherness and in the spirit of our favorite pony show, it will be thoroughly enjoyable to readers of all ages. All profits will go towards the Against Malaria Foundation’s outstanding prevention program.

The artists who are making this binding spell possible are: Kefkafloyd (project director), Adlynh, Bakertoons, Jowybean, Leekfish, Muffinshire, Pixelkitties, Ponywise, Sofas And Quills, Spectralunicorn, Starry Night, and Steve Holt!

How Can I Get It?

The book is primarily intended for the convention scene and will be available at most major American and European MLP conventions, debuting at BABSCon on April 3, 2015.

However, for people who cannot attend conventions and in order to help us cover the costs of printing the books, we will also ship a limited amount of books to people who preorder. The special preorder price is $25 plus $4 for shipping, and we’re aiming for ninety preorders. If you are interested in getting the book shipped to you as soon as it is printed, please preorder below. Thank you!

Click Here to Preorder Bound Together

As a bonus for those that preorder the book, you’ll receive an official Bronies for Good pin along with your book!

Bronies for Good pins

In addition to preordering the book, you can also donate additional funds directly to the project. All funds donated after printing and shipping costs are covered will be donated to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Click Here to Donate to the Bound Together Project

Who Does It Benefit?

Just like all proceeds from our Seeds of Kindness fundraiser, the revenue from Bound Together (minus printing costs) will be donated to the Against Malaria Foundation. Malaria afflicts 200 million people and causes about 600,000 deaths a year. That’s over 1,600 deaths per day or one per minute. But it can be easily prevented.

The Against Malaria Foundation funds long-lasting insecticide-coated bed nets to help prevent the spread of malaria by mosquitoes. These nets are the most cost-effectiveness means of malaria prevention. AMF stands out in particular because of its strong track record and its commitment to efficiency, program monitoring, and transparency. It is one of the most provably effective charities in the world.

For further motivation why you should donate to AMF as well, here an introduction to effective altruism.

2015: Seeds of Kindness Year Against Malaria

Shine Together

Welcome to 2015, the year of our charity album Shine Together and our Seeds of Kindness program for the Against Malaria Foundation!

Donate to Seeds of Kindness

shine-together.banner.png

No teleportation needed. Since the launch of our fund-raiser in late December, we’ve received donations from smart and empathetic folks in Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Russia, Brazil, Poland, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, and more—donations from all over the globe! Many thanks to all of you!

Distances are no hurdle anymore for us band together to do good in the world. Thus it’s all the more important today to make sure that we care about the struggles of people in far-off countries as much as we care about the people in our street.

In fact, there are great opportunities for us to help people in some of these countries, opportunities that, luckily, do not exist in Europe or in the US. Malaria is extremely easy to prevent. A mosquito net for just $3 greatly diminishes the risk for a person to contract malaria. Distributing just a few hundred of these nets will save the life of a person like us who would’ve otherwise succumbed to the disease!

Taking proper aim. The Disease Control Priorities Project found that there are differences of up to a factor of 1,000 between interventions in how much suffering they avert with the same donation. This means it’s usually much more important where you give rather than what you give!

The average donation to Seeds of Kindness so far is $40, which funds 13 potentially life-saving mosquito nets. Since we support the Against Malaria Foundation, one of the top cost-effective charities in the world, the suffering this donation can avert is equivalent to that of a donation of $4,000–$40,000 to a less effective charity.

We all have limited resources in time and money. Hence, such highly effective giving opportunities are the best way for us to invest these resources. Don’t save 1 life when you could save 1,000!

Sniping them mosquitoes. 2015 is going to be a big year for the fight against malaria. GiveWell—an organization that constantly looks for the best charities in the world—again recommends the Against Malaria Foundation as one of the four best giving opportunities in the world, and AMF is about to conduct a distribution of 730,000 mosquito nets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with four more distributions hopefully launching later this year.

All donations to Seeds of Kindness go directly to AMF, who use them exclusively to buy nets. Donations are tax-deductible in the US, Canada, and most of Western Europe. Each donation will be publicly allocated to a specific distribution, and extensive distribution and follow-up reports will be published online.

For further motivation why you should donate to AMF, here a TED talk by Peter Singer and a TEDx talk by Toby Ord, explaining effective altruism.

All with musical accompaniment. The musicians who have opted to support his life-saving intervention have pooled their artistic talent in Shine Together, our Seeds of Kindness album for 2015. It features twenty-two tracks of folk, rock, alternative postrock, orchestral, and electronic jams recorded by our charity album veterans and new blood alike—over an hour of uplifting tunes in total.

To download the album, either donate directly to Seeds of Kindness or, if you can’t for whatever reason, pledge that you will. We trust that you know the necessity for alleviating the terrible suffering in the world, and we expect that Shine Together will make a significant positive impact—because every life saved is significant!

Never out of the loop. Are you subscribed to our Seeds of Kindness newsletter yet? If not, then you know what to do.

Seeds of Kindness: A Princess Carol Charity Album

Hearth’s Warming Eve

Buck tradition! Well, apart from the tradition that every year at Christmas it is time to release another piece of the A Princess Carol project—all for one of only four top effective charities of the world: the Against Malaria Foundation.

After the release of “What Land is This” by MEMJ0123, Scraticus, and Luxumbra in 2012, and the release of the full A Princess Carol audio play in 2013, we are now honored to be allowed to announce to the fandom that the album of all carols from the audio play (including alternative versions) is about to be released!

Release of A Princess Carol Charity Album
Thursday, December 25, 2014, at 2 p.m. EST (7 p.m. UTC)
on sok.yoursiblings.org

If you read this before the release, then feel free to donate now and download the album right away as it becomes available!

This album will be released as an extra thank you to our donors on top of the Seeds of Kindness charity album Shine Together, which we released just a few days ago. Your donation will make you eligible for both of these terpsichorean marvels as well as all our past charity albums!

A Princess Carol. A pony take on an old Christmas classic with multiple carols, penned by the talented John Perry, inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and featuring the voices of Hannah as Luna, MEMJ0123 as Celestia and Spike, Meredith Sims as Twilight, ProjectSNT as Pinkie Pie, Michi Baka as Rainbow Dash and Applejack, Adrienne as Fluttershy, Rev as Coltroy, Poni1Kenobi as Key Ton, Deftfunk as the town crier, Mochi as Mayor Mayor and Zecora, Sleepypony as narrator, and Music by Luxumbra. Join us as we travel on a journey with Princess Luna: Will she see the true meaning of Hearth’s Warming before it’s too late?

Shine Together. Shine Together is the culmination of months of effort on the part of many dedicated fandom musicians. Featuring twenty-two tracks of folk, rock, orchestral, and electronic jams recorded by charity album veterans and new blood alike, Shine Together offers over an hour of uplifting tunes.

Against Malaria Foundation. In 2013, about 600,000 people died of malaria, the equivalent of four Boeing 747 crashing every day with no survivors. On average, one person dies every minute. This has to stop.

Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) are the most cost-effective means of malaria prevention and also protect against dengue fever, yellow fever, and forms of encephalitis. The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) funds the millions of nets needed in LLIN distributions. It stands out for its commitment to transparency and self-evaluation. AMF is one of the most provably effective charities in the world.

All donations to Seeds of Kindness go directly to AMF, who use them exclusively to buy LLINs. Donations are tax-deductible in the US, Canada, and most of Western Europe. Each donation will be publicly allocated to a specific distribution, and extensive distribution and follow-up reports will be published online.

For further motivation why you should donate and donate to AMF, here a TED talk by Peter Singer and a TEDx talk by Toby Ord, explaining effective altruism.

Last Reminder: Shine Together Album Premiere with Donation Matching

A new fund-raising initiative is about to launch: Seeds of Kindness: Shine Together! Like our previous iterations of Seeds of Kindness, this fourth one is going to reach out through multiple conventions, pony fandom livestreams, giveaways, and other spectacular events all throughout 2015. This year, we are pleased to kick off this fund-raiser for the Against Malaria Foundation with our fifth charity album: Shine Together.

Shine Together Release Party
Saturday, December 20, 2014, at 6 p.m. EST (11 p.m. UTC)
on events.yoursiblings.org

The album drops on December 20, and we are having a livestream party hosted by Ponyville FM to celebrate! For the limited time of the stream, an anonymous donor has agreed to match all donations up to $1,000, so tune in and donate, and it’ll count double!

The album. Shine Together is the culmination of months of effort on the part of many dedicated fandom musicians. Featuring twenty-two tracks of folk, rock, orchestral, and electronic jams recorded by charity album veterans and new blood alike, Shine Together offers over an hour of uplifting tunes.

We’re offering up this and our previous four albums for any donation at all that you feel appropriate. Because we understand that not everyone is able to donate, the album download will be freely available—a thank you to the fandom for its years of support, and a goodwill gesture to facilitate donations toward the Against Malaria Foundation.

Here, a preview of the album.

The charity. Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2012, about 627,000 people died of the disease, the equivalent of four Boeing 747 crashing every day with no survivors. On average, one person dies of malaria every minute. (WHO 2013) This has to stop.

Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) are the most cost-effective means of malaria prevention. They protect physically against mosquitoes and also kill any that try to find gaps or rents in the nets. They also protect against dengue fever, yellow fever, and forms of encephalitis.

The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) supports local distributors by funding the hundreds of thousands of nets that are needed in LLIN distributions. It stands out because of its strong commitment to transparency and self-evaluation. AMF is one of the most provably effective charities in the world.

All the money donated to Seeds of Kindness goes directly to AMF, who will use it exclusively to buy LLINs. Donations are tax-deductible in the US, Canada, and most of Western Europe. Each donation will be publicly allocated to a specific distribution, and extensive tracking, predistribution, and postdistribution reports will be published online.

For further motivation why you should donate and why you should donate specifically to AMF, here a TED talk by Peter Singer and a TEDx talk by Toby Ord, explaining effective altruism.

The newsletter. To always keep you posted of our latest charity campaigns, please visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter in the sidebar. If you’re already subscribed but didn’t get our last announcement of this event, please check your spam folder, mark the newsletter “not spam,” and add us to your contacts to be sure that it won’t get filtered again. Thank you!

Seeds of Kindness: Shine Together Charity Album Premiere with Donation Matching

Conquering malaria is a mighty undertaking. Only together we stand a chance!

The Ponyville FM premiere of our fifth charity album since 2011, Shine Together, marks the launch of our new Seeds of Kindness fund-raiser for 2014 and 2015, which is going to reach out through multiple conventions, pony celebrity livestreams, giveaways, and other spectacular events. All donations go to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Shine Together Release Party
Saturday, December 20, 2014, at 6 p.m. EST (11 p.m. UTC)
on events.yoursiblings.org

For the limited time of the premiere stream, an anonymous donor has agreed to match all donations up to $1,000, so if you tune in and donate right away, your donation counts double!

Continue reading

Against Malaria Foundation Back in GiveWell Pole Position

December 1, 2014, is an early, secular Christmas for effective altruists, because today is the day the charity prioritization organizations GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators published their new recommendations!

Of particular relevance to us are the recommendations of GiveWell because we committed in our planning for 2015 and maybe beyond to supporting the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and did so at a time when GiveWell’s demotion of AMF for reasons of limited room for more funding had still been in effect. Our research indicated that since the time of the downgrading, AMF had successfully disproved GiveWell’s wider concerns and successfully allocated substantial amounts of its funding. Because of these developments, AMF’s exemplary combination of minimal uncertainties and extreme cost-effectiveness, as well as a few marginal factors, we’ve opted to put all our efforts into supporting AMF. Today, GiveWell has vindicated our decision.

You can donate to the Against Malaria Foundation through its website and in particular through Your Siblings’ page.

In GiveWell’s blog article on the ratings update, it now recommends that of every $7.5 given, the donors allocate $5 to AMF with the remaining $2.5 divvied up (not evenly) among the other three top charities.

One reason for this great advantage is GiveWell’s restored faith in the ability of AMF to convert large amounts of donation money into accountably distributed mosquito nets. The foundation estimates that it has potential forthcoming distributions of nets at a total value of $36 million, and GiveWell trusts that if $10 million can be raised until April, AMF will be soon able to commit them to distributions.

Another factor is AMF’s extreme cost effectiveness in combination with the substantial evidence for it. Another top recommendation, the Deworm the World Initiative (DtWI) of Evidence Action, has a greater estimated cost-effectiveness, but its impact is fairly conceptually removed from the donations it receives, and its ability to absorb donations is also more limited. GiveDirectly, on the other hand, has a tremendous scalability and its impact is as direct and robust as it gets; the downside is that the cost-effectiveness of its program, unrestricted cash transfers, is lower by a factor (or rather divisor) of 5–10 compared to AMF’s distributions of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets. The deworming programs of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) have a cost-effectiveness comparable to that of AMF, but GiveWell had some reservations about SCI’s transparency and accounting.

While GiveWell had been undecided about whether 2013 would be such a good year to donate, it is now confident, especially with AMF restored to the top list, that this new giving period is “an excellent [one] to give a substantial amount.” GiveWell might, in the future, be able to further scale up its research, but “the world is getting better and some of the best opportunities available today (e.g., deworming, bednets, salt iodization) may no longer be available 10 years from now.” So donate quickly before we only suffer from expensive diseases anymore!

Below, GiveWell’s summary table from the blog article.

Consideration AMF DtWI GiveDirectly SCI
Program estimated cost-effectiveness (relative to cash transfers) 5–10× 10–20× 5–10× (and possibly more)
Directness and robustness of the case for impact Strong Weakest Strongest Moderate
Transparency and communication Strong Strong Strongest Weakest
Ongoing monitoring and likelihood of detecting future problems Strong Strong Strongest Weakest
Organizational track record of rolling out program Moderate Moderate Strong Strong
Room for more funding (more below) High Limited Very high Limited when accounting for all donors

Besides the top charities, GiveWell has also made a return to publishing its list of standout charities, charities with particular potential to enter the top list in the future. These charities are DMI, GAIN-USI,  ICCIDD, and Living Goods.

GiveWell will update its recommendations sooner this time, so we’ll likely have an effective altruist Easter in April 2015!

Animal Charity Evaluators, meanwhile, has promoted Animal Equality to the rank of top charity. It joins the ranks of Mercy for Animals and The Humane League. The prioritization organization has published two articles, on on the evaluation process and one one the results of this process.

Last Reminder: Donate Doubly with Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson

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Charity Chitchat 2
on November 15 at 5:30 p.m. EST (10:30 p.m. UTC)
on events.yoursiblings.org
with Nicole Oliver, Ingrid Nilson,
and donation matching!

The chitchat. While a scheduling conflict prevents Maud Pie from meeting Princess Celestia and Cheerilee, all of them will meet you! Oh, and Boulder too!

Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson have agreed to join us for two one-hour interviews from 6 p.m. EST and 8:30 p.m. EST respectively to chitchat with our Ponyville Live hosts about their profession, life, and whatever other topics you suggest in the viewer chat, so be at your best behavior!

The charity. Charity Chitchat 2 will benefit the Against Malaria Foundation, who provide life-saving mosquito nets in regions ravaged by malaria. These insecticide-treated bed nets are one of the most cost-effective interventions in existence. Few other charities can save as many lives with your donation!

The donation matching. As if the charisma of Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson wasn’t enough reason to fund a few dozen life-saving malaria nets at once, an anonymous donor has also agreed to match donations up to $1,465 during the time of the stream. Your $3 donation will buy two bed nets instead of one! Both will depend on your donation—no one can donate for you!

And if anyone should still doubt that this is the right time to give to AMF, please read this description of the organization and watch this excellent TEDx talk by Dr. Toby Ord.

Charity Chitchat 2: Donation Matching With Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson

Charity Chitchat 2

November 15 at 5:30 p.m. EST (10:30 p.m. UTC) on events.yoursiblings.org

with Nicole Oliver, Ingrid Nilson, and donation matching!

The clinic project. Maud Pie would be proud: We’ve reached a new milestone! You, our generous donors, have fully funded the renovation of the house that will generate a reliable income for Child Need Africa’s clinic in Uganda! This means that now all further donations can already go to the Against Malaria Foundation.

The chitchat. And speaking of Maud Pie, she is about to meet Princess Celestia and Cheerilee! Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson have agreed to join us for one hour starting at 6 p.m. EST to talk with each other and our Ponyville Live hosts about their profession, life, and whatever other topics you suggest in the viewer chat.

Do you still remember how, in late 2011, Friendship is Madness brought to light that Nicole Oliver is the voice of Cheerilee as well? Surely Charity Chitchat 2 will be full of surprises, too!

The donation matching. As if the charisma of Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson wasn’t enough reason to fund a few dozen life-saving malaria nets at once, an anonymous donor has also agreed to match donations up to $1,465 during the time of the stream. Your $3 donation will buy two bed nets instead of one!

And if anyone should still doubt that this is the right time to give to AMF, please read this description of the organization and watch this excellent TEDx talk by Dr. Toby Ord.

Musicians Wanted for Seeds of Kindness 4: Shine Together

About two months are left to the release of Shine Together, our fifth charity album!

Thanks to the tremendous work of the music community, the ongoing Seeds of Kindness 3 fund-raiser together with our three previous fund-raisers have raised about $150,000 from online donations alone, supporting various Your Siblings and Engineers Without Borders projects in Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. We incorporated a few suggestions and rule changes to make this work even better for the musicians, and we would like to ask for your help to support the outstanding work of the Against Malaria Foundation!

Soft deadline: November 22nd, 2014
Hard deadline: December 10th, 2014
Release date: December 20th, 2014

The Charity. There is no middle man. All the money donated will go directly to the Against Malaria Foundation and will only be used to purchase insecticide-treated nets (LLINs). Donations will be tax-deductible in the US, Canada, and most of Western Europe. Each donation will be publicly allocated to a specific program and extensive tracking, predistribution, and postdistribution reports will be published online.

Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2012, about 627,000 people died of the disease, the equivalent of four Boeing 747 crashing every day with no survivors. On average, one person dies of malaria every minute. (WHO 2013)

LLINs are mosquito nets, usually bed nets, that not only physically protect against malaria-infected mosquitoes but are also treated with an insecticide that lasts for several years and in that time kills any mosquitoes that may otherwise be able to find possible gaps or tears in the net. At a price of just about $3, bed nets are a thoroughly proven, highly effective means of protection against malaria. Depending on the region they also protect from other diseases transmitted by the same vector species, such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and forms of encephalitis.

The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), founded in 2004, supports local distributors by funding the hundreds of thousands of nets that are needed in LLIN distributions. AMF stands out because of its strong commitment to transparency and self-evaluation. (From Your Siblings’ summary of AMF.)

Here is a TEDx talk by Dr. Toby Ord, the founder of Giving What We Can, explaining effective altruism and the logic behind our choice to support a highly effective charity such as the Against Malaria Foundation.

What changed. This album will operate on a pay-what-you-want basis and a free download for the album will be provided, so you may release your song as soon as the album is out. For the sake of musicians who submit their songs early, there is a set release date this time around. It does mean that we will get less breathing room to give feedback and help entries that are close to making the cut, so we recommend that you submit before the “soft deadline” to make that still possible.

What you can submit.

  1. It does not have to be pony: Pony and nonpony songs are equally welcome.
  2. Remixing and sampling: No copyrighted material can be used, and we cannot accept entries that remix, sample, or cover the show either (sorry, we really can’t). Submitting a remix requires the composers’ permission. Collabs are encouraged!
  3. Theme: There is no specific theme or genre restriction besides common sense. Don’t make anything angry, creepy, or overly depressing (but sad is fine) and your song should have no problem fitting in.
  4. Length: There is no set length restriction, and most importantly, short songs are just as welcome as longer pieces are. Don’t stretch your song solely to fit a given length – this was perhaps the most common issue with entries for the previous albums.
  5. Number of entries: You can submit as many songs as you want (within reason). Two songs from the same artist can get in without any problem, but over that number (not counting collabs), we might only take the best two of them.

How to submit. Please send an email to smile.bfg@gmail.com, with the subject “[ST]” followed by your user name, and include the following:

  1. An MP3 file without the artist’s name in its title or meta data, hosted on a service that offers streaming (preferably Mediafire or Box.com). Please make sure to take the sharing link rather than copy-pasting from your URL bar. You may check your link by accessing it while logged out, e.g., using private browsing.
  2. A lossless file (preferably FLAC or AIFF) uploaded on a third-party hosting service, not sent as an attachment. We tend to see a lot of Dropbox links dying when we need them, so please be careful.
  3. Your preferred artist name and a link for credit (YouTube channel, Soundcloud, etc.).
  4. Lyrics, if applicable.

You can upload your song on YouTube when the album is released, but please do not make your song public until then. However, feel free to upload previews or ask for feedback!

If you have any questions, you can email us at smile.bfg@gmail.com or ask in the My Little Remix thread.