High School EA Outreach

Con­tri­bu­tions by the Stu­dents for High-Im­pact Char­ity Team (Cather­ine Low, Bax­ter Bul­lock, Tee Bar­nett, David Va­tousios and Cal­lum Hinch­cliffe), the Run to Bet­ter Days Team (Bren­ton Mayer, Daniel Charles, Laura Koefler), Jes­sica McCurdy, Daniel, Alex, Jamie Har­ris and Se­bas­tian Becker[1]. Com­piled by Cather­ine Low. In­tro­duc­tory seg­ments writ­ten by Cather­ine Low.


This post com­piles sum­ma­rized re­ports on sev­eral pro­jects and in­stances in which effec­tive al­tru­ism (EA) con­cepts have been in­tro­duced to school stu­dents aged 13 to 18 (referred to here­after as high school stu­dents):

  • Guest pre­sen­ters run­ning work­shops in high schools (Run to Bet­ter Days and Stu­dents for High-Im­pact Char­ity).

  • Re­sourc­ing uni­ver­sity stu­dent co­or­di­na­tors to help high school stu­dents set up EA-al­igned groups in their in high schools (Stu­dents for High-Im­pact Char­ity).

  • Re­cruit­ing and re­sourc­ing high school stu­dent lead­ers to run ses­sions on EA con­cepts with their peers (Stu­dents for High-Im­pact Char­ity).

  • Re­cruit­ing non-EA teach­ers run EA ses­sions in schools (Stu­dents for High-Im­pact Char­ity).

  • Univer­sity stu­dents run­ning EA ses­sions as part of the Splash pro­gram in USA Univer­si­ties.

  • EA-al­igned teach­ers pre­sent­ing con­cepts in classes and ex­tracur­ricu­lar clubs.

The con­tent de­liv­ered to stu­dents varied from pro­ject to pro­ject, and in­cluded char­ity com­par­i­sons, eth­i­cal ques­tions, cause pri­ori­ti­za­tion, high-im­pact ca­reer choices, and dis­cus­sions of com­mon EA cause ar­eas.

We hope this post will be a use­ful re­source for peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in com­mu­ni­cat­ing the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of EA to young peo­ple.

This post was prompted by Stu­dents for High-Im­pact Char­ity (SHIC) re­cently choos­ing to sus­pend out­reach to high school stu­dents.

We be­gin by ex­plain­ing the gen­er­ally ac­cepted rea­sons for why reach­ing out to high school stu­dents may be use­ful, and our ten­ta­tive con­clu­sions. This is fol­lowed by de­tailed de­scrip­tions of some pro­jects that have been tried, writ­ten by that pro­ject’s team or co­or­di­na­tor. For each pro­ject, we ex­plain the method used and any mea­sured im­pact.

Why choose high school out­reach?

Many self-iden­ti­fied effec­tive al­tru­ists state that they wished they had gained EA knowl­edge much ear­lier than they did, so that they could have had a roadmap to effec­tively im­prove the world from a younger age. Th­ese state­ments sug­gest it was worth test­ing whether high school stu­dents are a good group to ed­u­cate about EA.

Our ini­tial rea­sons for be­liev­ing that high school stu­dents could be a good au­di­ence were:

  • They are less likely to have fixed opinions about the best way to do good than peo­ple who have been do­ing al­tru­is­tic ac­tions for some years.

  • They may be more open to new ideas than older peo­ple.

  • They are in a sig­nifi­cantly bet­ter po­si­tion to make im­pact­ful life de­ci­sions than uni­ver­sity stu­dents or adults, as they haven’t sunk time and re­sources into a po­ten­tially lower im­pact path.

  • It’s pos­si­ble to gain ac­cess to an au­di­ence of high school stu­dents more eas­ily than au­di­ences of older peo­ple.

  • Anec­do­tally, EA ideas seem to be more ap­peal­ing if they’re pre­sented by some­one more se­nior than they are, which most EAs are rel­a­tive to high school stu­dents.

There are sev­eral ways that reach­ing high school stu­dents could have an im­pact:

  • Guid­ing high school stu­dents to­wards higher im­pact ca­reer paths, vol­un­teer­ing and dona­tions.

  • In­fluenc­ing school fundraisers.

  • Pro­vid­ing a pos­i­tive first ex­pe­rience of EA con­cepts, in­creas­ing the chances that these stu­dents would take ac­tion af­ter sub­se­quent ex­po­sures to EA—for ex­am­ple, when they are at uni­ver­sity.


Cather­ine’s conclusions

This sec­tion was au­thored by Cather­ine Low (Man­ager of SHIC since 2018, closely in­volved with SHIC since early 2016, and a former teacher).

The con­trib­u­tors to this post have not tested all of the pos­si­ble meth­ods of en­gag­ing high school stu­dents, and other, un­tried meth­ods might have more im­pact. How­ever, I have drawn some ten­ta­tive con­clu­sions from the at­tempts that have been made.

  1. In­tro­duc­tory EA con­cepts ap­peared to be fairly ac­cessible to many stu­dents.
    By this, I mean ideas about cause pri­ori­ti­sa­tion, cost-effec­tive­ness, and mak­ing de­ci­sions un­der un­cer­tainty ap­peared to be com­pre­hen­si­ble by many stu­dents, as ev­i­denced by stu­dents speak­ing in­tel­li­gently about these ideas dur­ing in class dis­cus­sions. How­ever, in most cases, stu­dents only had a small num­ber of hours think­ing about these ideas, so they were un­likely to re­mem­ber much or ap­ply these con­cepts to new situ­a­tions.

  2. There was very lit­tle con­tro­versy gen­er­ated from teach­ing EA con­cepts.
    Gen­er­ally stu­dents had favourable opinions to­wards ideas that were pre­sented, and there were rarely com­ments in classes, or in stu­dent or teacher sur­veys, that sug­gested that the ma­te­rial was too con­tro­ver­sial for a high school au­di­ence. This was some­what sur­pris­ing be­cause I be­lieved some of the ideas would be con­fronta­tional, such as view­ing fac­tory farm­ing videos, or dis­cussing whether we are morally obliged to help those in need, even if they live in other coun­tries and we can’t see their suffer­ing. This up­dated us to­wards think­ing that EA out­reach has fewer im­me­di­ate down­sides, al­though it is hard to know whether this find­ing can be ex­trap­o­lated to older age groups.

  3. Schools are of­ten re­cep­tive to hav­ing pre­sen­ters talk about EA con­cepts.
    Giv­ing guest pre­sen­ta­tions in schools is gen­er­ally an effec­tive way of reach­ing a large num­ber of peo­ple. EA con­cepts fit well into high school cur­ricula, and schools in Van­cou­ver, New Zealand and Aus­tralia were of­ten en­thu­si­as­tic to have guest pre­sen­ters talk about EA con­cepts. Schools in Lon­don ap­peared to be less re­spon­sive to out­reach, and while we have some pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tions, we can’t be cer­tain as to why this was the case.

  4. So far, only a very small per­centage of stu­dents reached have taken sig­nifi­cant steps to­wards high-im­pact ac­tions as a re­sult of out­reach.
    Outreach to high school stu­dents has re­sulted in some suc­cess sto­ries, but in gen­eral, has not been as im­pact­ful as was ini­tially guessed, as only a very small per­centage of stu­dents reached are known to have taken ac­tion. It was harder to en­gage with stu­dents long-term than ex­pected. In sur­veys, most stu­dents stated they were pos­i­tively in­clined to­wards the ideas and many stu­dents re­ported that they planned to donate more and/​or do more re­search be­fore donat­ing in the fu­ture. How­ever, very few stu­dents in­vested time to learn more or took high-im­pact ac­tions in the months af­ter be­ing ex­posed to EA ideas.

  5. En­gag­ing stu­dents over the long-term is difficult when there is no EA-al­igned staff mem­ber at the school.
    SHIC at­tempted to es­tab­lish longer term en­gage­ment with in­ter­ested stu­dents they reached through the stu­dent leader model and in in­struc­tor-led work­shops in schools, how­ever only a few stu­dents took up these op­por­tu­ni­ties.

  6. Hav­ing some long-term con­nec­tion with stu­dents through an EA-al­igned staff mem­ber, or a vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­nity seems to in­crease the chance of stu­dents tak­ing ac­tion.
    Out of the op­tions that have been tried, the best strate­gies for en­gag­ing high school stu­dents seem to re­quire sus­tained in­ter­ac­tion with stu­dents, for ex­am­ple by find­ing teach­ers in­ter­ested in EA, or giv­ing stu­dents vol­un­teer roles. Since en­gag­ing and em­pow­er­ing teach­ers hasn’t been thor­oughly tested, I don’t know how easy it would be to scale the suc­cesses of the EA teach­ers who have shared their sto­ries be­low. EA con­cepts do ap­pear to fit into ex­ist­ing so­cial stud­ies type cur­ricula in many ar­eas, and 80,000 Hours-type ad­vice could fit into ca­reers courses, so it may be pos­si­ble for EA re­sources to be spread through teacher net­works. While it could be very in­fluen­tial to al­ter the na­tional, state, or provin­cial cur­ricu­lum, this is likely to be difficult to do.

  7. High School out­reach can be an effec­tive way of im­prov­ing pre­sen­ta­tion skills. Given the will­ing­ness of many schools to have EAs pre­sent, high school out­reach has been use­ful for train­ing pur­poses be­fore pre­sent­ing to older au­di­ences, as the SHIC team and sev­eral other con­trib­u­tors to this post have found they’ve honed their un­der­stand­ing of EA and pre­sen­ta­tion skills through this out­reach.

I don’t think our out­reach de­scribed in this post was a par­tic­u­larly effec­tive use of re­sources. How­ever, out­reach could be effec­tive if you are able to at­tract highly promis­ing stu­dents to sign up for a pro­gram over a longer term. This might be pos­si­ble if you have a strong brand (such as an as­so­ci­a­tion with elite Univer­sity) al­low­ing you to at­tract suit­able stu­dents through schools and other net­works, and the re­sources to run a fel­low­ship-type pro­gram with these stu­dents. Alter­na­tively, with the right con­nec­tions it might be pos­si­ble for EAs to take a sig­nifi­cant role in similar pro­grams already ex­ist­ing for highly promis­ing stu­dents.

While only a few stu­dents ap­peared to have taken sig­nifi­cant ac­tion as a re­sult of the out­reach de­scribed in this post, our out­reach may have had more sub­tle, pos­i­tive effects that weren’t mea­sured.

One way we may have made im­pact could have been through the man­age­ment of first im­pres­sions, as Jes­sica men­tions in the sec­tion on Splash. Some peo­ple seem to have had nega­tive or in­cor­rect first ex­pe­riences of EA, po­ten­tially caus­ing them to be put off en­gag­ing in the fu­ture. How­ever, if they have good first im­pres­sions, peo­ple are likely to be in­oc­u­lated against poor mes­sages in the fu­ture. If this is a com­mon prob­lem, then well ex­e­cuted high school out­reach by EAs could be a good way of pre­vent­ing harm from nega­tive mes­sages be­fore stu­dents are likely to get low fidelity ex­po­sure to EA from other sources. It might be pos­si­ble to gather more in­for­ma­tion about whether this is a cost-effec­tive ac­tion through con­duct­ing sur­veys or ex­per­i­ments.

Even if peo­ple are un­likely to gain nega­tive im­pres­sions of EA, out­reach to high school stu­dents could still have a sub­tle pos­i­tive im­pact. Many peo­ple re­quire mul­ti­ple ex­po­sures to ideas be­fore act­ing, it may be that the main im­pact of our out­reach was to in­crease the chances of the stu­dents get­ting in­volved when they next come across EA. How­ever, if this is our main route to im­pact, it is un­likely to be the most cost-effec­tive form of out­reach at the mo­ment. Since EA is not well known in wider so­ciety, so many of our stu­dents may not get any sub­se­quent ex­po­sures to EA ideas. When and if EA be­comes more widely dis­cussed, the role of high school out­reach might be­come more use­ful.

If you are in­ter­ested in talk­ing to high school stu­dents about EA, please feel free to con­tact me at cather­ine@high­im­pact­stu­dents.org.

Bren­ton’s conclusions

This sec­tion was au­thored by Bren­ton Mayer (80,000 Hours, and a former co­or­di­na­tor of Run To Bet­ter Days). Edited 14th May 2019 to add es­ti­mates of the over­all re­sults of the out­reach ac­tivi­ties men­tioned in this post.

I’ve been very sur­prised at how lit­tle mea­sured suc­cess high school EA out­reach efforts have yielded. This post has com­piled ev­i­dence from many com­pe­tent peo­ple try­ing out mul­ti­ple differ­ent meth­ods, which in to­tal have had over 5 years of full time equiv­a­lent work go into them. This has re­sulted in:

  1. Three stu­dents be­com­ing coun­ter­fac­tu­ally in­ter­ested in EA enough that they be­came in­volved in uni­ver­sity groups or made a ca­reer change. I would guess that this work (mostly Cather­ine’s) ac­counts for the ma­jor­ity (>75%) of the mea­sured suc­cess.

  2. 10-20 stu­dents be­com­ing coun­ter­fac­tu­ally in­ter­ested in EA enough to re­duce their meat con­sump­tion or start fundraisers for ACE or GiveWell recom­mended char­i­ties.

  3. <$20,000 USD raised for ACE or GiveWell recom­mended char­i­ties.

My im­pres­sion is that this is pretty poor com­pared to other out­reach meth­ods, such as run­ning a uni­ver­sity group.

I don’t think the ev­i­dence is strong enough to sug­gest that no-one should work on high school EA out­reach, but I do think that some­one con­sid­er­ing this should be pretty con­cerned by this data. I’d sug­gest that they de­sign their pro­grams with the in­for­ma­tion in this post in mind (and ideally talk to some of its au­thors), should make sure that they’re well po­si­tioned to col­lect feed­back on their pro­grams as early as pos­si­ble, and they should be pre­pared to pivot away from those pro­grams (or high school out­reach in gen­eral) if they aren’t get­ting re­sults.

Minor points:

  1. I agree with Cather­ine’s points. In par­tic­u­lar, it seems like #2-5 are true to a sur­pris­ing de­gree.

  2. I’m not sure what SPARC’s data has shown about how promis­ing their ap­proach is, but I’d be in­ter­ested to know. If they’ve had a lot of suc­cess, I’d likely up­date to­wards very tar­geted high school out­reach be­ing good, but not gen­eral high school out­reach.

Bax­ter’s conclusions

This sec­tion was au­thored by Bax­ter Bul­lock (Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of Re­think Char­ity, Co-founder of Stu­dents for High-Im­pact Char­ity, and former high school teacher).

I mostly agree with the con­clu­sions made in the sec­tions above, and non-SHIC ac­counts of high school out­reach in­cluded in this post have not dras­ti­cally al­tered my take­aways. How­ever I am more op­ti­mistic than oth­ers about the im­pact of high school out­reach, pend­ing clear­ance of sev­eral ob­sta­cles re­lated to data col­lec­tion and long-term en­gage­ment. In one sen­tence, my con­clu­sion is that high school out­reach likely has po­ten­tial that we haven’t yet figured out how to un­lock.

My opinion is that the SHIC pro­gram was sus­pended be­cause we couldn’t see how much im­pact we were hav­ing, not be­cause we thought we weren’t mak­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact. In early 2018, when SHIC made its biggest and fi­nal shift in strat­egy to the in­struc­tor-led model, one of our main rea­sons for do­ing so was to max­i­mize our chances of be­ing able to quan­ti­ta­tively and qual­i­ta­tively track our im­pact first­hand. In many ways we were suc­cess­ful in do­ing so. We saw first­hand how much stu­dents and teach­ers were en­gaged by our ma­te­rial. We ex­pe­rienced a strong de­mand for a pro­gram like SHIC in schools.

How­ever, when we set the ar­guably un­clear­able bar of need­ing to prove our im­pact through ex­tended en­gage­ment, we were un­know­ingly set­ting our­selves up for failure. As a trans­par­ent and data-driven or­ga­ni­za­tion, we were seek­ing to find a met­ric mea­surable in the short-term by which we could jus­tify SHIC’s ex­is­tence, but in my opinion it’s quite pos­si­ble that no such met­ric ex­ists, and that lon­gi­tu­di­nal ob­ser­va­tion (over a time scale we don’t have the re­sources to em­ploy) is the only re­li­able in­di­ca­tor of long-term im­pact.

High school out­reach is bot­tle­necked by this im­pre­ci­sion, which is an in­abil­ity to ac­cu­rately ad­just strat­egy based on ob­served re­sults. Essen­tially SHIC and similar pro­grams that rely on short-term ev­i­dence to jus­tify their ex­is­tence are prob­a­bly doomed to fail re­gard­less of ac­tual im­pact, be­cause the true and most sig­nifi­cant effects can only be seen lon­gi­tu­di­nally through par­ti­ci­pant’s fu­ture ac­tions and life de­ci­sions.

It could be a mas­sively cost-effec­tive way to spread ideas that could shape the way a gen­er­a­tion pre­pare their lives to do good. It could also have very lit­tle im­pact. Its po­si­tion on the scale of im­pact lies in the in­tri­ca­cies of un­pre­dictable mo­ments in the fu­ture in which a now-stu­dent must mark a form to in­di­cate their preferred area of study in uni­ver­sity, or de­cide what to do with their in­her­i­tance. At these mo­ments, will work­shop par­ti­ci­pants uti­lize their knowl­edge of high-im­pact char­ity?

This in­deed leads us to a broader ques­tion about the im­mea­surable effects of out­reach and ed­u­ca­tion in gen­eral, and whether they’re worth the in­vest­ment of time and money. Re­gard­less, the break­through in high school out­reach be­longs to the in­di­vi­d­ual or or­ga­ni­za­tion that is able to re­li­ably main­tain a long-term con­nec­tion with stu­dents sub­se­quent to their ex­po­sure to these ideas. I don’t be­lieve this to be a fu­tile effort, and I look for­ward to fu­ture efforts to do so.


The fol­low­ing sec­tions give de­tailed de­scrip­tions of the differ­ent meth­ods used to en­gage high school stu­dents in EA, and the re­sults of this out­reach.

The Run to Bet­ter Days

This sec­tion was au­thored by Daniel Charles (med­i­cal doc­tor), Laura Koefler (med­i­cal doc­tor) and Bren­ton Mayer (80,000 Hours).


The Run to Bet­ter Days is an an­nual event which aims to gen­er­ate ac­tion against world poverty, chiefly through en­courag­ing dona­tions to GiveWell top char­i­ties. Since 2012, it has de­liv­ered pre­sen­ta­tions to 35,000 peo­ple (mostly high school stu­dents) and tracked $80,000 USD in dona­tions through as­so­ci­ated fundrais­ing cam­paigns.


The run is a ~1000km an­nual re­lay com­pleted by about 15-20 vol­un­teers, mostly med­i­cal stu­dents from James Cook Univer­sity, typ­i­cally along the north east­ern coast of Aus­tralia. Dur­ing the run we fundraise through per­sonal net­works, com­mu­nity groups and lo­cal news me­dia. We stop in at schools and com­mu­nity or­gani­sa­tions to de­liver pre­sen­ta­tions in­spired by Peter Singer’s ‘The Life You Can Save’. You can see one of the pre­sen­ta­tions here[2].

We’ve de­liv­ered our long form ~40 minute speech to around 20 000 peo­ple, and have given a more con­densed ver­sion to 15 000. About 70% of that au­di­ence were high school kids aged 12-18. Other au­di­ences in­cluded:

  • Univer­sity classes for health sci­ences, the Masters of Public Health and med­i­cal school.

  • Com­mu­nity or­gani­sa­tions in­clud­ing Ro­tary, Ro­toract and Lions clubs.

  • Con­fer­ences for doc­tors and med­i­cal stu­dents.

  • Pri­mary schools.

We gave away around 2500 copies of The Life You Can Save to peo­ple who seemed en­thu­si­as­tic af­ter hear­ing the speech. Around 70% went to high school stu­dents.

Efforts to track our impact

We have mostly not fol­lowed up with peo­ple who we gave talks to. Below we de­scribe fac­tors which made fol­low up more difficult to ex­e­cute on than might ini­tially be as­sumed, but even given these con­straints, we think we should have done bet­ter.

Most of the fol­low up was in­ci­den­tal, through talk­ing to peo­ple we already knew who hap­pened to be hear­ing our talks.

Our ma­jor effort at sys­tem­a­tis­ing fol­low up was in 2015, when we asked for the emails/​Face­book de­tails of 5-10 in­ter­ested stu­dents at 10 differ­ent high schools. We then sent emails to these stu­dents/​made and posted to Face­book groups we made and added stu­dents to for the fol­low­ing few months. We re­ceived a few pos­i­tive mes­sages, fa­cil­i­tated one promis­ing dis­cus­sion about a gap­min­der video and had some likes on our posts. We dis­con­tinued this due to a com­bi­na­tion of low en­gage­ment from the stu­dents and lack of or­gani­sa­tion on our part.

Tracked Successes

In­ter­est from our tar­get audience

We’re aware of two peo­ple who have been sig­nifi­cantly im­pacted by a RTBD pre­sen­ta­tion as well as a few smaller suc­cesses. All of these peo­ple were uni­ver­sity stu­dents at the time.

  1. One med­i­cal stu­dent we met at a global health con­fer­ence signed the GWWC pledge and be­came en­thu­si­as­tic about EA.

  2. We met Peter McIn­tyre (now at 80,000 Hours) through giv­ing a talk at a med­i­cal stu­dent global health con­fer­ence. He had already read The Life You Can Save and was giv­ing around 30% of his in­come to AMF. Be­com­ing friends with us caused him to get much more into EA and take the GWWC pledge. He thinks it’s un­likely that he would have made a ma­jor EA in­spired ca­reer shift if not for the run. Peter then caused Bren­ton to leave earn­ing to give in medicine some­thing like two years ear­lier than he would have oth­er­wise (on ex­pec­ta­tion).

  3. In ad­di­tion, there are sev­eral ex­am­ples of smaller changes such as peo­ple spon­sor­ing a child through World Vi­sion and some­one pledg­ing with The Life You Can Save.

In­ter­est from the RTBD volunteers

Seven peo­ple in­volved in the run have signed the Giv­ing What We Can pledge. Three of them co-founded the run and are the au­thors of this post. Two of them are long-term part­ners of the au­thors of the post.

Since the co-founders grad­u­ated, other peo­ple have stepped up to run it, which (given the size of that un­der­tak­ing) demon­strates sub­stan­tial in­ter­est in effec­tive giv­ing.

Apart from Bren­ton (who stopped prac­tic­ing medicine in or­der to work at 80,000 Hours), no-one has de­vel­oped much in­ter­est in cause ar­eas other than global poverty or made sub­stan­tial ca­reer shifts.


We ask peo­ple to give to our part­ner char­i­ties (mostly the Against Malaria Foun­da­tion) to sup­port the run, which we track via pages like this. We’ve recorded $80 000 USD through these, which has mostly come via the net­works of the run­ners. The re­main­der came through as­sorted sources in­clud­ing the run­ners them­selves, some schools proac­tively fundrais­ing for us, through our spon­sors and dona­tions from the com­mu­nity groups.

Spec­u­la­tion on im­pact we’ve had but haven’t tracked

We’ve had a huge num­ber of pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple (mostly not high school stu­dents) who liked our mes­sage and told us they were en­thu­si­as­tic about effec­tive giv­ing. For some in­di­ca­tion of this, con­sider that we were re­peat­edly asked to give talks at plat­forms which seem pretty gen­er­ous to offer to a bunch of uni­ver­sity stu­dents with­out rele­vant qual­ifi­ca­tions. One ex­am­ple was be­ing asked to speak at a con­fer­ence for ru­rally prac­tic­ing doc­tors. Another time we gave our talk at a 600 per­son global health con­fer­ence and fa­cil­i­tated a giv­ing game which ran through­out. Sev­eral pro­fes­sors kindly found a way to shoe-horn our pre­sen­ta­tion into their cur­ricula—mostly they in­vited us in as part of a global health mod­ule, but there was one ethi­cist who asked us to come in as an ex­am­ple of util­i­tar­ian rea­son­ing.

Based on this, we would guess there are tens of thou­sands of dol­lars which have been donated to GiveWell top char­i­ties due to the run which we haven’t tracked.

It’s pos­si­ble that there are peo­ple heav­ily in­volved in EA who ini­tially heard about it through the run, but we think that’s less likely. We have checked the reg­istry of GWWC mem­bers for the names of around 30 peo­ple we’ve had con­tact with who seemed pretty in­ter­ested in the ideas, but didn’t find any­one who has taken the pledge who we weren’t already aware of.


The mes­sage of the run has reached a lot of peo­ple, yet we have re­mark­ably lit­tle ev­i­dence of on­go­ing sub­stan­tial in­volve­ment from our au­di­ence. We think two ma­jor con­trib­u­tors to this are our abil­ity to fol­low up with peo­ple we speak to and their age.

If we were de­sign­ing an out­reach pro­ject from the ground up, we would try to build fol­low up mechanisms into the struc­ture of the pro­ject . Not hav­ing good fol­low up mechanisms has meant that we haven’t been able to re­in­force mes­sages with our au­di­ence, get feed­back on what mes­sages are and aren’t land­ing with our au­di­ence, and track our im­pact. The struc­ture of the run makes this fol­low up difficult, be­cause:

  • We usu­ally live hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away from our au­di­ence.

  • Their age puts re­stric­tions on how ap­pro­pri­ate it is to have per­sonal con­tact with them af­ter we leave their school.

  • The run is a ma­jor lo­gis­ti­cal challenge which badly strains the ca­pac­ity of se­nior or­ganisers in its lead up, mak­ing it difficult to get ‘im­por­tant but not ur­gent’ things done such as fol­low up plan­ning.

  • The an­nual na­ture of the event means that the most rapid iter­a­tion cy­cle available is once per year.

Our im­pres­sion is that speak­ing to older stu­dents is more promis­ing than speak­ing to younger stu­dents, and that this doesn’t start diminish­ing un­til they reach around 19 years of age. This was in­formed by what dis­cussing the talks with them af­ter­wards in­di­cated about how deeply they’d un­der­stood the con­cepts we’d pre­sented. This im­pres­sion is bolstered by how large the effect of the run was on the uni­ver­sity aged par­ti­ci­pants (as dis­tinct from its au­di­ence) and how the two GWWC pledges as­so­ci­ated with the run which which came from our au­di­ence were from uni­ver­sity stu­dents.


We’re proud of how the Run to Bet­ter Days im­pacted its vol­un­teers and how long it has kept go­ing with­out much in­volve­ment from the origi­nal or­ganisers. There are many ways we would change it if we were de­sign­ing an­other out­reach ac­tivity from the ground up, though it’s less ob­vi­ous that these changes should be made to the ex­ist­ing run.

You’re wel­come to get in touch with us at info@run­to­bet­ter­days.org. If you’re think­ing of start­ing some­thing similar to the run then we’d be happy to help you out as much as we can!

SHIC co­or­di­na­tor model

This sec­tion was au­thored by the SHIC team.

The Stu­dents for High-Im­pact Char­ity (SHIC) pub­lished pro­gram con­sists of a num­ber of ac­tivi­ties, videos, read­ings and dis­cus­sions on ethics, EA prin­ci­ples, char­ity anal­y­sis (in­clud­ing a Giv­ing Game with money from The Life You Can Save go­ing to the char­ity the stu­dents chose), global poverty, an­i­mal welfare and rights, cli­mate change, ex­is­ten­tial risks, cause-pri­ori­ti­za­tion, and 80,000 Hours-in­spired ca­reer ad­vice.

When SHIC was ini­tially con­ceived in 2015, we be­lieved that the most effec­tive out­reach strat­egy would be to have uni­ver­sity stu­dents who are in­volved in effec­tive al­tru­ism (referred to as ‘co­or­di­na­tors’) act as in­ter­me­di­aries be­tween the cen­tral ad­minis­tra­tive team and stu­dent groups in high schools How­ever, af­ter test­ing this strat­egy over ap­prox­i­mately 6 months (while also work­ing on the stu­dent leader model), this method did not re­sult in the for­ma­tion of any stu­dent groups.

The aim was to have co­or­di­na­tors work with high school stu­dents to run the SHIC pro­gram in their groups. To build these groups, we tasked the co­or­di­na­tors with ap­proach­ing high schools, iden­ti­fy­ing stu­dent lead­ers, and helping these stu­dent lead­ers run the SHIC pro­gram within their re­spec­tive schools.The pro­gram at the time con­sisted of 6 lev­els of ap­prox­i­mately 1 hour each, with ad­vanced lev­els available for stu­dents to move on to if they wished to con­tinue.

Over the lat­ter half of 2016 we re­cruited 11 co­or­di­na­tors from uni­ver­si­ties in six coun­tries. 4 out of the 11 used the SHIC re­sources in groups in their own uni­ver­si­ties, only one ended up us­ing the SHIC re­sources with high school stu­dents, and that did not lead to the form­ing of a SHIC group in the school.

We be­lieve that our origi­nal strat­egy placed too much re­spon­si­bil­ity on vol­un­teers whose time and un­der­stand­ing of the SHIC pro­gram were limited, and we had not yet de­vel­oped ma­te­ri­als or a frame­work to suffi­ciently aid co­or­di­na­tors in this en­deavor. It should be noted and em­pha­sized that we at­tribute this lack of ac­tivity to an un­struc­tured strat­egy, not to the co­or­di­na­tors them­selves.

More in­for­ma­tion about the co­or­di­na­tor model is available in SHIC’s In­terim Re­port pub­lished in De­cem­ber 2016.

Re­sources used

The Co­or­di­na­tor Model was worked on dur­ing 2016, with one full-time staff mem­ber work­ing on the Stu­dent Leader and Co­or­di­na­tor mod­els.

In ad­di­tion to the paid staff mem­ber, a large num­ber of vol­un­teer hours were spent on the cur­ricu­lum and the web­site.

SHIC Stu­dent Leader Model

This sec­tion was au­thored by the SHIC team.


The aim of the Stu­dent Leader Model (formerly known as the “Am­bas­sador” model) was to en­courage stu­dents to form ex­tracur­ricu­lar clubs (or use ex­ist­ing school clubs) to work through the full SHIC pro­gram. The stu­dent leader would work with our team and be­come fa­mil­iar enough with the ma­te­rial to run the SHIC pro­gram with their peers. This model was used from 2016 un­til re­cently, al­though from 2018 it was de­pri­ori­tised, and run al­most en­tirely by ca­pa­ble SHIC vol­un­teers. As a re­sult, a small num­ber of stu­dents have be­come highly en­gaged in EA and have, or are likely to, take sig­nifi­cant ac­tions.

When SHIC started, the Stu­dent Leader Model seemed like a promis­ing strat­egy for en­gag­ing stu­dents as it had a high po­ten­tial to be scaled up to hun­dreds of schools at low cost. It util­ised the ex­ist­ing club struc­ture in high schools, and would ideally lead to stu­dents gain­ing a peer group with similar in­ter­ests and goals. The suc­cess of other large school group net­works like Model United Na­tions, Me to We, and Key Club, sug­gested the pos­si­bil­ity that SHIC could form the ba­sis of a net­work of school clubs.

We re­cruited both uni­ver­sity and high school stu­dents for this role, how­ever this re­port just out­lines the re­sults from the high school stu­dents. We didn’t re­cruit enough uni­ver­sity stu­dents to com­ment on whether there was a sig­nifi­cant differ­ence be­tween high school and uni­ver­sity stu­dents.

We chose not to ex­plic­itly use the term “effec­tive al­tru­ism”, al­though the pro­gram was de­signed to cover most in­tro­duc­tory EA con­cepts. This choice was made partly be­cause we didn’t want teach­ers and par­ents to be con­cerned that SHIC was aiming to re­cruit young peo­ple into a move­ment, and partly be­cause of rep­u­ta­tional risks: if EA be­came con­tro­ver­sial we didn’t want this to re­flect poorly on SHIC, and vice versa. This could have had sig­nifi­cant down­sides: stu­dents were less able to dis­cover re­lated con­tent on their own, and did not re­al­ise that SHIC’s philoso­phies were part of a wide­spread move­ment they might have been ex­cited to join.

Some of the stu­dent lead­ers were aware of EA, and found us through net­works, but most stu­dent lead­ers were re­cruited through on­line vol­un­teer list­ing web­sites. In­ter­ested stu­dents were then offered an ini­tial Skype with a SHIC staff mem­ber or vol­un­teer, who would have a con­ver­sa­tion about the ba­sic ideas of high-im­pact char­ity, and what the stu­dent leader role would en­tail. Stu­dents will­ing to start this role were offered con­tin­u­ing sup­port over email and Skype.

Stu­dent numbers

98 prospec­tive stu­dent lead­ers had an ini­tial Skype with our men­tors. It is un­clear how many of these stu­dents started or com­pleted the SHIC pro­gram, how­ever pre- and post-pro­gram sur­veys com­pleted by par­ti­ci­pants, along with our 2016 In­terim sur­vey com­pleted by stu­dent lead­ers, pro­vided some in­di­ca­tion. 82 stu­dents across 23 schools com­pleted the pre-pro­gram sur­vey. 8 of these schools had clearly formed a group as mul­ti­ple stu­dents from the same school an­swered at the same time. The av­er­age group size was 8 peo­ple. The re­main­ing 15 schools just had one per­son com­plete the pre-pro­gram sur­vey, which could have been as a re­sult of the stu­dent leader work­ing through the ma­te­ri­als on their own, or could have been be­cause the stu­dent leader chose to com­plete the sur­vey on be­half of their group.

The post-pro­gram sur­vey was only com­pleted by 21 stu­dents across 7 schools. 3 of these schools had groups of 5 peo­ple on av­er­age. The re­main­ing 4 schools just had one stu­dent com­plete the sur­vey.

The sur­vey num­bers are likely to be a sig­nifi­cant un­der­es­ti­ma­tion of the num­ber of stu­dents start­ing and com­plet­ing the pro­gram, be­cause some stu­dent lead­ers may not have asked their group to do the sur­vey at all, or just sub­mit­ted one sur­vey for the whole group, so these re­sults rep­re­sent the ab­solute min­i­mum num­bers. To es­ti­mate how well the sur­vey en­tries match real stu­dent num­bers, at the end of 2016 we emailed ad­di­tional sur­veys out to ac­tive stu­dent lead­ers, who re­ported their own group num­bers. Th­ese num­bers were on av­er­age 4 times higher than in­di­cated by the sur­vey, which, if ex­trap­o­lated across all groups, would lead to an ap­prox­i­mate 328 stu­dents start­ing and 84 finish­ing the pro­gram.

Stu­dent lead­ers may be ex­ag­ger­at­ing the num­ber of stu­dents in their group, and there were many stu­dents who ex­pressed an in­ten­tion to start a group who may have run the pro­gram with­out com­plet­ing any sur­veys. It is there­fore very un­cer­tain how many stu­dents SHIC reached through the stu­dent leader model.

There are many rea­sons for the high at­tri­tion rate from the ini­tial Skype to do­ing the first ses­sion, and to com­plet­ing the course. We be­lieve that it was a very big ask for stu­dents to or­ganise a club, let alone run the ac­tivi­ties, es­pe­cially when most of them were very new to the EA con­cepts them­selves. One stu­dent leader re­ported that they felt less com­fortable with the an­i­mal and ex­is­ten­tial risk top­ics and so did not com­plete those lev­els, so com­fort de­liv­er­ing the ma­te­ri­als may have been a sig­nifi­cant fac­tor. While the men­tors were able to provide Skype and email sup­port, there was no lo­cal sup­port, and very lit­tle in the way of ex­ter­nal in­cen­tives for stu­dents to run the SHIC course.


Dur­ing 2016 we sug­gested that stu­dent groups could set up fundraisers for their fa­vorite char­i­ties, and gave them some guidelines as to how to do this effec­tively. When we started SHIC, we hoped that these fundraisers would re­sult in more money go­ing to effec­tive char­i­ties than the to­tal run­ning costs of SHIC. How­ever, we found that stu­dents are less ea­ger or ca­pa­ble of rais­ing funds than we ex­pected, rais­ing only $928 USD be­tween five fundraisers in a sin­gle semester. Although it re­mains an op­tion for stu­dent groups, af­ter 2016 we re­duced the em­pha­sis on fundrais­ing in favour of em­pha­sis­ing longer term ac­tions they can take, and have not asked stu­dents for fundrais­ing data.

Sev­eral of the stu­dents who took the post-pro­gram sur­vey re­ported that they are likely to make changes to their dona­tions, ca­reers, and way of liv­ing due to the SHIC pro­gram. How­ever, these state­ments could be an over­es­ti­ma­tion of the true im­pact, as stu­dents may give an­swers bi­ased to­wards what they think their stu­dent lead­ers (and SHIC) want, and the sur­veys were taken im­me­di­ately at the end of the SHIC pro­gram, when stu­dents’ en­thu­si­asm was likely to be at its peak.

To gauge the long term im­pact of learn­ing about EA at high school we re­cently re­quested in­for­ma­tion from some stu­dents who got in­volved be­tween 2016 and 2018 and have re­mained in touch with us since. Their re­ports in­di­cate some long term im­pact from SHIC, but apart from one stu­dent it is un­clear how coun­ter­fac­tual this im­pact was.

Stu­dent A dis­cov­ered EA through be­com­ing a SHIC stu­dent leader, but prob­a­bly would have dis­cov­ered EA at some point. Now at uni­ver­sity, they help to run their lo­cal group and or­ganise their lo­cal EAGx. They have vol­un­teered or in­terned for a cou­ple of differ­ent or­gani­sa­tions as­so­ci­ated with EA, hope to do di­rect work for EA cause ar­eas in the fu­ture.

Stu­dent B was already in­ter­ested in EA when they dis­cov­ered SHIC, be­com­ing a stu­dent leader and a vol­un­teer. They have since given pre­sen­ta­tions about EA to other groups, are part of their Univer­sity EA group, and have vol­un­teered for mul­ti­ple EA or­gani­sa­tions.

Stu­dent C was already in­ter­ested in EA when they dis­cov­ered SHIC. They have since read widely on EA, and are plan­ning on choos­ing courses at Univer­sity based on EA prin­ci­ples. Philos­o­phy will be part of their de­gree, but they haven’t de­cided on other courses yet.

Stu­dent D would have been un­likely to dis­cover EA with­out SHIC, and has been run­ning a SHIC group for the last year. SHIC has made a large im­pact on their ca­reer choice— they hope to make an im­pact in global health and are con­sid­er­ing med­i­cal an­thro­pol­ogy as a de­gree.

Why the stu­dent leader model was deprioritized

The stu­dent leader model was de­pri­ori­tized in late 2017 to be mainly vol­un­teer run, and ad­ver­tis­ing for stu­dent lead­ers stopped in Fe­bru­ary 2019. The SHIC re­sources are still available on the in­ter­net, and one-on-one as­sis­tance is still available for stu­dents who dis­cover the SHIC web­site and wish to have sup­port us­ing the re­sources.

This de­ci­sion was mainly due to the very small num­ber of stu­dents work­ing through the pro­gram. We were also be­com­ing more care­ful about en­sur­ing the con­cepts were ex­plained well. De­spite the thor­ough les­son plans pro­vided, the stu­dent lead­ers may not be able to con­vey the con­cepts in the pro­gram ac­cu­rately, lead­ing to a low-fidelity trans­mis­sion of EA ideas.

We don’t think our ex­pe­rience proves that EA con­cepts can’t be part of a large school group net­work such as Model United Na­tions, as our ap­proach was just one pos­si­ble strat­egy. We may have also been hin­dered by try­ing to run the pro­ject on a very low bud­get, as it may have been nec­es­sary to have staff on the ground in key cities to get a school group net­work run­ning.

Re­sources used

The Stu­dent Leader Model was worked on from Early 2016 to March 2019. Over 2016 there was one full-time staff mem­ber work­ing on the Stu­dent Leader and Co­or­di­na­tor mod­els. Over 2017 there was the equiv­a­lent of one full-time staff work­ing on this, across two peo­ple. In 2018 and the first three months of 2019 this method was de­pri­ori­tised, and took up ap­prox­i­mately 10% of a full-time staff mem­ber’s role.

In ad­di­tion to the paid staff, a large num­ber of vol­un­teer hours were spent on the cur­ricu­lum, men­tor­ing stu­dent lead­ers, reach­ing out to schools and stu­dents, and cre­at­ing the web­site.

Pro­vid­ing SHIC re­sources and sup­port to non-EA teach­ers

This sec­tion was au­thored by the SHIC team.

A cou­ple of teach­ers who were not pre­vi­ously fa­mil­iar with effec­tive al­tru­ism stum­bled upon the SHIC ma­te­ri­als and re­quested more in­for­ma­tion about how they could be uti­lized in their class­room or club. To the best of our knowl­edge, these teach­ers pre­sented only the first one or two SHIC les­sons.

To see whether teach­ers would be in­ter­ested in util­is­ing the pro­gram, Cather­ine pre­sented at the New Zealand Philos­o­phy Teach­ers Con­fer­ence in 2016 and the NZ So­cial Stud­ies Teach­ers Con­fer­ence in 2017. The pre­sen­ta­tion fea­tured in­ter­ac­tive ac­tivi­ties from the SHIC course, and elic­ited a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back and dis­cus­sion. How­ever there didn’t seem to be par­tic­u­larly high up­take. Only one out of the ap­prox­i­mately 90 teach­ers in at­ten­dance con­tacted us re­port­ing that they used part of the SHIC pro­gram in their class, and no sur­veys were com­pleted by stu­dents, al­though oth­ers may have tried it.

De­spite these un­re­mark­able at­tempts at teacher out­reach, we be­lieve there may still be po­ten­tial. We used only a small amount of vol­un­teer time and effort en­courag­ing teach­ers to use the pro­gram. There are sev­eral po­ten­tially effec­tive strate­gies for teacher en­gage­ment that could still be ex­plored, such as work­ing with teacher as­so­ci­a­tions or in­fluen­tial teach­ers within promis­ing sub­ject ar­eas such as Philos­o­phy and In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate’s The­ory of Knowl­edge.

With non-EA teacher out­reach, we ran the risk of im­por­tant con­cepts be­ing mis­com­mu­ni­cated, how­ever the op­por­tu­nity for strong scal­a­bil­ity may out­weigh this risk. We be­lieve available SHIC re­sources are de­tailed enough that a non-EA can effec­tively run our pro­gram, but we have no con­trol over how they choose to use the ma­te­ri­als. While we are no longer work­ing on pro­mot­ing SHIC to teach­ers, re­sources and sup­port are still available for teach­ers who dis­cover the SHIC web­site and wish to run the pro­gram in their class­room.

SHIC in­struc­tor-led workshops

This sec­tion was au­thored by the SHIC team .


From Jan­uary 2018 to April 2019, we ex­per­i­mented with pre­sent­ing work­shops put on by SHIC In­struc­tors, paid Re­think Char­ity em­ploy­ees who have been ex­ten­sively trained with the ma­te­rial to en­sure the work­shops are ac­cu­rate and of high qual­ity. Work­shops con­sisted of SHIC in­struc­tors run­ning vari­a­tions of the short SHIC pro­gram, as ei­ther four hours of pro­gram­ming across three school vis­its, or a sin­gle 1.5 hour visit, de­pend­ing on the school’s availa­bil­ity. Most of these work­shops were run in Van­cou­ver, with some in New Zealand schools, and some in Lon­don. Lo­ca­tions of work­shops were de­ter­mined both strate­gi­cally and based on the homes of our qual­ified in­struc­tors. Th­ese work­shops were in­spired, in part, from Cather­ine’s ex­pe­riences de­liv­er­ing the SHIC pro­gram as a high school teacher in 2016 and 2017. Her ex­pe­riences pro­vided ev­i­dence that an in­struc­tor-based model may be more effec­tive than stu­dent-led mod­els. By hav­ing trained em­ploy­ees we were able to reach a large num­ber of stu­dents, and test whether a the SHIC cur­ricu­lum, im­ple­mented to a high stan­dard, would be effec­tive at en­gag­ing stu­dents.

Work­shops were mostly pre­sented to stu­dents aged 16 to 18, and were pri­mar­ily run in Math classes, or classes within the So­cial Stud­ies de­part­ments (So­cial Stud­ies, So­cial Jus­tice, Philos­o­phy, Hu­man Geog­ra­phy and Eco­nomics). By the end of 2018 we had pre­sented 106 work­shops, reach­ing 2,580 par­ti­ci­pants at 40 in­sti­tu­tions.

In Van­cou­ver we saw more in­ter­est than we ini­tially ex­pected, and to our sur­prise the ma­jor­ity of book­ings re­sulted from cold emails rather than net­work­ing. 25% of the schools we con­tacted in Van­cou­ver even­tu­ally booked at least one work­shop, in­di­cat­ing that there is an ap­petite for pre­sen­ta­tions on EA con­cepts in high schools. Our out­reach ap­peared to be less effec­tive in Lon­don schools, al­though we only spent a few weeks con­tact­ing these schools, in com­par­i­son to Van­cou­ver where we con­tacted each school mul­ti­ple times over the course of 9 months.

While we reached many stu­dents, very few con­tinued to ex­ten­sively en­gage with us be­yond our ini­tial vis­its.

Stu­dent results

We ex­pe­rienced strong in-work­shop en­gage­ment with nearly all groups we worked with. Stu­dents in classes run by the So­cial Stud­ies de­part­ments classes gen­er­ally seemed more in­ter­ested than those in Math classes, es­pe­cially if the sub­ject was an elec­tive class that en­couraged con­sid­er­a­tion of moral­ity in some way (e.g. So­cial Jus­tice or Philos­o­phy). Per­haps bet­ter still, for both in­ter­est and com­pre­hen­sion, were In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate The­ory of Knowl­edge classes, likely be­cause the stu­dents are more in­tel­lec­tu­ally in­clined and have had ex­plicit crit­i­cal think­ing train­ing. The high­est level of in­ter­est was with philan­thropy-re­lated stu­dent clubs (such as Me to We and In­ter­act Clubs), but we had far less time with them, and we weren’t in­vited to work with these groups as of­ten as with timetabled classes.

We no­ticed lit­tle var­i­ance in terms of in­ter­est and un­der­stand­ing across differ­ent age groups. Though con­cepts may have gen­er­ally taken more ex­pla­na­tion for younger grades, the ma­jor­ity of work­shop ma­te­rial seemed ac­cessible to all par­ti­ci­pants. In fact, some of the best groups we worked with were grade 9 classes at a high-achiev­ing pri­vate school.

In the first half of 2018 we ad­ministered pre- and post-work­shop sur­veys to par­ti­ci­pants. Re­sults in­di­cated pos­i­tive shifts in val­ues and be­liefs. After the work­shops, stu­dents were:

  • Much more likely to choose a high-im­pact char­ity when asked to choose a char­ity to donate to.

  • More likely to have “EA” rea­sons for choos­ing a char­ity (cost-effec­tive­ness, and choos­ing the most crit­i­cal cause area).

  • Less likely to be­lieve that farmed an­i­mals are treated well.

Th­ese sur­vey re­sults were en­courag­ing, but it is likely these stated changes in per­spec­tive were af­fected by so­cial de­sir­a­bil­ity[3]. Ad­di­tion­ally, we are un­cer­tain whether any gen­uine changes in per­spec­tives or be­liefs would re­sult in be­havi­oural change.

More in­for­ma­tion about the pre- and post-work­shop sur­vey re­sults can be found here: https://​​fo­rum.effec­tivealtru­ism.org/​​posts/​​EKBt7uvYug7haDAfu/​​stu­dents-for-high-im­pact-char­ity-2018-up­date

Teacher responses

Teach­ers of rele­vant So­cial Stud­ies classes (in­clud­ing So­cial Jus­tice, Philos­o­phy, Eco­nomics, The­ory of Knowl­edge and Hu­man Geog­ra­phy) also re­ported how the SHIC pro­gram fit well into their cur­ricu­lum, fur­ther in­di­cat­ing the vi­a­bil­ity of high school classes as a way of spread­ing ideas.

Teach­ers were very pos­i­tive about the pro­gram, with 19 out of 20 teach­ers re­port­ing in the teacher sur­vey that they were satis­fied or very satis­fied with the pro­gram. Many teach­ers gave glow­ing tes­ti­mo­ni­als and some in­vited us back for re­peat vis­its. Since we were un­sure whether teach­ers would think the con­tent was too up­set­ting or con­tro­ver­sial, par­tic­u­larly the fac­tory farm­ing footage or dis­cus­sions of ex­is­ten­tial risk, we also asked whether there were parts of the pro­gram that were likely to be dis­tress­ing to stu­dents. Only 1 out of the 20 teach­ers re­ported that parts of the pro­gram were un­nec­es­sar­ily dis­tress­ing, the oth­ers re­port­ing that it wasn’t dis­tress­ing at all or was po­ten­tially dis­tress­ing but that this was nec­es­sary to learn about the top­ics.

At one school, two teach­ers (who didn’t com­plete the sur­vey) stated dur­ing our visit that they thought the ex­is­ten­tial risk sec­tion was too alarmist for the age group (ap­prox­i­mately 14 years old). How­ever, none of the stu­dents ap­peared to be dis­tressed and one even com­mented to the in­struc­tor af­ter­wards that the ses­sion had been very in­ter­est­ing. In­trigu­ingly, we’ve found that a large pro­por­tion of stu­dents be­lieve hu­man ex­tinc­tion to be much more likely than ex­is­ten­tial risk ex­perts do, so we think it more likely that stu­dents found our dis­cus­sion of this topic re­as­sur­ing, rather than dis­turb­ing.

We never re­ceived any com­plaints from stu­dents or par­ents. Over­all our pos­i­tive teacher feed­back fur­ther in­di­cates that EA out­reach has fewer risks than some ini­tially thought.

3-month survey

To as­cer­tain whether the SHIC pro­gram had more than a tem­po­rary im­pact on stu­dents, all 662 stu­dents who we had an email ad­dress for re­ceived a fol­low up sur­vey by email ap­prox­i­mately 3 months af­ter their work­shop was com­pleted. All non-re­spon­ders were re­minded 1 week and 2 weeks af­ter the ini­tial email. 58 out of the 662 stu­dents (8.8%) started the sur­vey. This small sam­ple is likely to be skewed so it is un­clear how much weight to put on the re­sults of this sur­vey.

One ques­tion asked the stu­dents to list the char­ity they’d most like to donate to to­day. Only 17 stu­dents gave a name of a char­ity, and 6 (35%) were deemed by SHIC to be “effec­tive char­i­ties” (3 Against Malaria Foun­da­tion, 1 GiveDirectly, 1 GiveWell, 1 Hu­mane League). This is a lot higher than the 0.3% effec­tive char­i­ties in the pre-work­shop sur­vey, sug­gest­ing that at least some stu­dents have re­tained knowl­edge of the char­i­ties in the pro­gram.

Stu­dents also were much more likely to se­lect “EA” rea­sons for choos­ing a char­ity, such as “The char­ity is tack­ling the world’s most crit­i­cal prob­lem” and “The char­ity is par­tic­u­larly cost-effec­tive (can do good with a small amount of money)” com­pared to the pre-work­shop sur­vey. Given the se­lec­tion bias, this pos­i­tive re­sult is per­haps un­sur­pris­ing. Also, given that many of the stu­dents that chose both “EA” op­tions also chose a char­ity we would not deem to be effec­tive, it is not clear that this pos­i­tive re­sult in­di­cates this change will trans­late to real im­pact if and when stu­dents are to donate.

Stronger ev­i­dence of im­pact came from ask­ing the stu­dents to list ac­tions they had made as a re­sult of the SHIC work­shop. Most stu­dents who an­swered this stated a change in per­spec­tive rather than a con­crete ac­tion. How­ever, four state­ments in­di­cated pos­i­tive ac­tions:

“We did a yard sale re­cently and gave the money to against malaria foun­da­tion [sic]

“I’ve ac­tu­ally started to fundraiser [sic] for the Hu­mane League. I’m run­ning sev­eral school events through­out the year to sup­port this char­ity, as well as in­form peo­ple about it’s [sic] sig­nifi­cance. My hope is that peo­ple be­gin to re­al­ize how im­pact­ful it is to donate just $1 to high im­pact char­i­ties such as the Hu­mane League”

“Yes ab­solutely. I think the sig­nifi­cant im­pact was that I have be­come a veg­e­te­rian [sic].”

“I’ve thought more about how much meat I con­sume and have tried to bring that amount down.”

Ad­vanced workshops

When we be­gan im­ple­ment­ing the in­struc­tor-led work­shop model, we de­ter­mined that the key mea­sures of SHIC’s suc­cess would be the num­ber of stu­dents who con­tinue to en­gage with the ma­te­rial be­yond our ini­tial visit, and the ex­tent to which they re­main in­volved. In the sec­ond half of 2018 we be­gan men­tion­ing ad­vanced work­shops dur­ing our ini­tial vis­its as op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­main in­volved, learn more, and be­come part of a com­mu­nity. 18% of stu­dents ex­pressed their in­ter­est when asked on the post-work­shop sur­vey.

1247 stu­dents were el­i­gible to be in­formed about our ad­vanced work­shops, and we sent out 392 in­vi­ta­tions[4]. 17 stu­dents ex­pressed in­ter­est, five ended up at­tend­ing our first ad­vanced work­shop in Novem­ber, and two at­tended the De­cem­ber work­shop (both re­turn­ing from the first).

There may have been lo­gis­ti­cal rea­sons for why the De­cem­ber work­shop was less at­tended by stu­dents (weather, time of day, prox­im­ity to the holi­days). How­ever the very low re­sponse rate to both the Novem­ber and De­cem­ber ad­vanced work­shops was poor enough to sug­gest that this was not an effec­tive method for en­gag­ing stu­dents be­yond the ini­tial work­shop, and could in­di­cate a low ap­petite for ad­di­tional pro­gram­ming of any kind.

Based on these re­sults, we’re left with one or more of the fol­low­ing three con­clu­sions:

  • The stu­dents were en­gaged in the SHIC pro­gram in class, but our meth­ods for en­gag­ing stu­dents be­yond the class­room were in­effec­tive.

  • Stu­dents had the will, but not the band­width to en­gage fur­ther with the SHIC pro­gram.

  • Stu­dents were not as en­gaged by the SHIC pro­gram as our post-pro­gram sur­vey data and ex­pe­rience sug­gested, and there­fore un­in­clined to par­ti­ci­pate in fur­ther pro­gram­ming.

Our best guess is that all three of these con­clu­sions are true to some ex­tent.

As a re­sult of our strug­gles to fur­ther en­gage stu­dents, we de­cided to sus­pend SHIC in­struc­tor-led work­shops in high schools. There is a pos­si­bil­ity that these work­shops performed a very use­ful role by be­ing the first ex­po­sure to high-im­pact char­ity and effec­tive al­tru­ism ideas, po­ten­tially mak­ing them more re­cep­tive next time they en­counter the ideas, how­ever it is very difficult to provide tan­gible ev­i­dence of such an im­pact.

More in­for­ma­tion on the ad­vanced work­shops and why we chose to stop run­ning In­struc­tor-led work­shops can be found in this post.

David, the Van­cou­ver SHIC in­struc­tor, teach­ing at Bod­well High School.

Stu­dents at Bod­well High School dur­ing one of the ac­tivi­ties.

Re­sources used

The In­struc­tor-led model re­quired more re­sources than the pre­vi­ous meth­ods of en­gag­ing stu­dents, as we had paid staff de­liv­er­ing the work­shops. Over 2018 we had one full-time man­ager/​trainer who also de­liv­ered work­shops, one part-time ad­minis­tra­tor, and one full-time in­struc­tor. From Jan­uary to April 2019 we had an ad­di­tional full-time in­struc­tor.

Splash—Courses for high school stu­dents run by Uni students

This sec­tion was au­thored by Jes­sica McCurdy, who runs Yale EA’s con­tri­bu­tions to the Splash and Sprout pro­grams.

Splash is an event for high school stu­dents where they come to one of many Univer­si­ties across the USA, and get to elect to take classes taught by uni­ver­sity stu­dents. Splash stu­dents at­tend one 50 minute class on each topic. Yale, MIT, and UCSB EAs have pre­sented at their lo­cal Splash events. Yale also runs a similar pro­gram, Sprout, where stu­dents at­tend three 50 minute classes to the same stu­dents over three weeks (al­though stu­dents of­ten skip a week or two).

Yale EA’s aims for Splash and Sprout is to in­tro­duce high school stu­dents to the con­cepts of EA. We started in the Fall of 2017, and have taught 7 classes so far, reach­ing a to­tal of ap­prox­i­mately 70 stu­dents in to­tal. We rec­og­nize that a 50 minute ses­sion is not nearly enough time to change stu­dents be­hav­ior. We mostly want to “prime” the stu­dents with the name Effec­tive Altru­ism, the main con­cepts, and GiveWell.

We hope that if they hear about it again they will have a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards it, as it is more com­mon than we would like for stu­dents’ first in­ter­ac­tion with EA to be in a nega­tive or crit­i­cal light. Often times in­com­ing uni­ver­sity stu­dents have been mis­lead by mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of what EA is (i.e: only earn­ing to give, just for ve­g­ans, etc.)

We origi­nally had high hopes for the stu­dents but one class is sim­ply not enough time to sig­nifi­cantly af­fect be­hav­ior. Ad­di­tion­ally, the way Splash and Sprout is set up here there is not a way to do fol­low-up on stu­dents (al­though it may be pos­si­ble that we could with as­sis­tance from Splash/​Sprout lead­ers).

We would sur­vey stu­dents at the end of class and these have been very pos­i­tive with stu­dents most re­spond­ing well to the ideas “give more and give more effec­tively”. This is likely be­cause we spent more time on global health/​poverty and/​or that giv­ing is an eas­ier con­cept to grasp. Stu­dents were usu­ally en­gaged and ex­cited about EA af­ter the class with a ma­jor­ity say­ing that they would like to con­tinue pur­su­ing EA but I find it un­likely that it sig­nifi­cantly stuck with any of them.

While these classes may not be very high im­pact on the stu­dent side, I do see po­ten­tial value on the teacher side. Univer­sity stu­dents on the newer side of EA learn the con­cepts more thor­oughly while prepar­ing to teach a class. They will also get a chance to prac­tice talk­ing about EA and re­spond­ing to ques­tions. Ad­di­tion­ally, it acts as a good way for some­one new to get in­volved since it is easy and a low time com­mit­ment.

I think this was a good use of my time when I had first joined Yale Effec­tive Altru­ism. Now as I am tak­ing on other roles and have prob­a­bly gained much of the learn­ing and prac­tic­ing value through my pre­vi­ous classes, I no longer teach my­self but en­courage and as­sist new mem­bers.

I wrote a han­dover doc­u­ment for new teach­ers. It goes over prepa­ra­tion, tips, and les­sons learned. Some of the in­for­ma­tion is Yale spe­cific but hope­fully could still be use­ful!

Feel free to reach out to me—jes­sica.mc­curdy@yale.edu.

EA-al­igned Teachers

This sec­tion de­scribes the ex­pe­rience and re­sults of four EA-al­igned teach­ers who have in­tro­duced EA con­cepts to stu­dents at the school they teach at. At least 8 EAs have util­ised the SHIC pro­gram with their stu­dents, re­sult­ing in at least 530 stu­dents learn­ing about EA con­cepts in school, and sev­eral other teach­ers have cre­ated their own re­sources to use in their school. As a re­sult, a hand­ful of stu­dents have or are likely to take sig­nifi­cant high-im­pact ac­tions.


This sec­tion is au­thored by Cather­ine Low, who used to teach at a pri­vate girls’ school in New Zealand.

In 2016 and 2017, I taught three 16-hour courses in Effec­tive Altru­ism to a to­tal of 41 se­nior stu­dents in my school aged from 16 to 18. I used this to de­velop and test the full SHIC pro­gram, which in­cluded ac­tivi­ties, videos, read­ings and dis­cus­sions on ethics, EA prin­ci­ples, char­ity anal­y­sis, global poverty, an­i­mal welfare and rights, cli­mate change, ex­is­ten­tial risks, and 80,000 Hours-in­spired ca­reer ad­vice. In ad­di­tion, I taught a short­ened ver­sion of the SHIC pro­gram to an­other 40 stu­dents aged ap­prox­i­mately 14 years old, dur­ing a so­cial stud­ies class in the same school.

This had mul­ti­ple pos­i­tive re­sults in the school:

  • Around $10,000 NZD was donated to “EA” char­i­ties due to the stu­dents in­fluenc­ing ex­ist­ing school fundraisers.

  • A suc­cess­ful cam­paign for a policy of Meatless Mon­days in the cafe­te­ria.

  • A suc­cess­ful cam­paign to make the school car­bon neu­tral by calcu­lat­ing the school’s emis­sions and offset­ting through Cool Earth (which at the time was the most EA-recom­mended cli­mate change char­ity).

  • In both years, the stu­dents also ran a giv­ing game with the the rest of their year to teach them about effec­tive al­tru­ism, as a re­sult most se­nior stu­dents (ap­prox­i­mately 200 stu­dents) in the school learned about GiveWell and the ba­sic ideas of EA.

All these ac­tivi­ties were stu­dent-led, but had sig­nifi­cant sup­port from me. Apart from the food and nu­tri­tion teacher, who had con­cerns about re­duc­ing stu­dents meat in­take, these ac­tivi­ties were well sup­ported by the staff.

The sur­vey re­sults and in­ter­ac­tions in class in­di­cated that the course was well re­ceived by the stu­dents. Ini­tially I was a lit­tle con­cerned about stu­dent or par­ent feed­back be­ing nega­tive due to the con­tro­ver­sial na­ture of some of the top­ics, how­ever this turned out not to be a prob­lem. Only one stu­dent com­mented in the sur­vey that the fac­tory farm­ing video was too guilt-in­duc­ing, how­ever this stu­dent signed up for a sec­ond term of the course, so it was un­likely to be a big con­cern for her. A cou­ple of par­ents gave me pos­i­tive feed­back about dis­cus­sions they have had with their daugh­ters as a re­sult of the course.

While sev­eral stu­dents said in their end-of-course sur­veys that the course was mak­ing them re­con­sider their be­havi­our and long term plans, it is un­clear how much weight to put on stu­dent an­swers. How­ever, two stu­dents main­tain a visi­ble in­ter­est in effec­tive al­tru­ism and keep in touch with me. One of them be­came ve­gan as a re­sult of the course, vol­un­teered for SHIC through­out the year fol­low­ing her grad­u­a­tion, donates to GiveWell recom­mended char­i­ties, and has changed her area of study from med­i­cal school to micro­biol­ogy, with the in­ten­tion of work­ing on global pub­lic health risks. The sec­ond stu­dent be­gan vol­un­teer­ing for EA New Zealand a year af­ter grad­u­a­tion, and plans to take the Giv­ing What We Can Pledge once em­ployed. Both of these stu­dents would prob­a­bly not have got­ten in­volved with EA with­out this in­tro­duc­tion at school.

The most en­gaged stu­dents were those who were in their fi­nal year of school. While the con­tent was ac­cessible to younger stu­dents, they seemed to treat the course as an in­tel­lec­tual ex­er­cise rather than in­for­ma­tion and ideas that could af­fect their de­ci­sions.

The short term gains and pos­si­ble long term gains from run­ning these courses there­fore ap­peared to be a very good use of my time, es­pe­cially since I was paid by the school to run the courses as part of my nor­mal salary.

The suc­cess of these pro­grams led me to be­lieve it could be highly cost-effec­tive hav­ing skil­led EA ed­u­ca­tors visit schools to de­liver work­shops, spark­ing SHIC’s in­struc­tor-led work­shop model. How­ever, af­ter our ex­pe­rience run­ning in­struc­tor-led work­shops, I now think it is likely that my suc­cess prob­a­bly re­lied on me hav­ing an ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ship with the stu­dents and be­ing available for con­tinued sup­port and reg­u­lar re­minders af­ter the course ended.

One of Cather­ine’s classes run­ning a giv­ing game with the rest of their year group (dur­ing a wild an­i­mal themed mufti day, they don’t nor­mally dress like that)

One of Cather­ine’s classes run­ning a “an­i­mal friendly lunch” con­sist­ing of a ve­gan sausage siz­zle and bake sale, and hand­ing out fly­ers about how to help an­i­mals.

Cather­ine used the full SHIC cur­ricu­lum in her classes. She can be con­tacted on cather­ine@high­im­pact­stu­dents.org.


This sec­tion is au­thored by Daniel, who teaches at a large pub­lic school in a high so­cioe­co­nomic area in New Zealand.

I started in­tro­duc­ing EA to my school in early 2018 when I emailed staff, out­lin­ing an inau­gu­ral event for EA Wel­ling­ton which staff were wel­come to at­tend. Although no staff went to the inau­gu­ral event, a child of a staff mem­ber who is a very ac­com­plished fi­nal year stu­dent did at­tend. They be­came quite in­ter­ested in the ideas, bor­row­ing Do­ing Good Bet­ter from me, and went on to be on the Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee of EA Wel­ling­ton. This stu­dent in­tends to fol­low a high-im­pact ca­reer path, prob­a­bly in the field of cli­mate change.

I and the stu­dent men­tioned above ran a giv­ing game and bake sale, re­sult­ing in $300 be­ing donated to GiveWell recom­mended char­i­ties.

I also run philos­o­phy club which started in 2018. Since then, stu­dents have slowly been learn­ing and dis­cussing more about eth­i­cal the­o­ries, amongst other top­ics. Th­ese stu­dents are keen to un­der­stand the com­plex­ities of the world, and how one can make a differ­ence, but apart from the one stu­dent men­tioned above I would not yet say that any of them are yet likely to take sig­nifi­cant EA-spe­cific ac­tion as a re­sult of the club.


This sec­tion is au­thored by Alex who is a teacher in an elite Science and Tech­nol­ogy fo­cused sixth-form col­lege in the UK.

Since Septem­ber 2018 I have been run­ning a lunchtime “EA club” with at­ten­dance rang­ing from 5 to 25 stu­dents. The club ran weekly, for around half an hour, due to ex­ter­nal con­straints. The ses­sions ini­tially fo­cused on dis­cus­sions of par­tic­u­lar is­sues, and dis­cus­sion qual­ity and en­gage­ment was high. Stu­dents were, in gen­eral, more ex­cited to dis­cuss “big pic­ture” ideas e.g. cause pri­ori­ti­sa­tion, than more nar­row foci, how­ever the short time slot limited dis­cus­sion qual­ity. Later ses­sions in­volved prac­ti­cal ac­tivi­ties, for ex­am­ple us­ing guessti­mate to es­ti­mate the im­pact of differ­ent ca­reer plans, and seemed to make bet­ter use of the time.

I also de­liv­ered an as­sem­bly on choos­ing a ca­reer look­ing at the prob­lem broadly via the frame­work of 80000 Hours, and brought in an ex­ter­nal speaker who spoke to 75 stu­dents about his de­ci­sion to earn to give. Both as­sem­blies were ex­tremely well-re­ceived.

The biggest piece of ev­i­dence of im­pact has been this year’s stu­dent-run fundrais­ing week, where differ­ent classes com­pete to raise money for char­ity. Un­til this year, no EA-recom­mended char­i­ties had ever been nom­i­nated as re­cip­i­ents of money raised dur­ing the event. Of the 8 char­i­ties nom­i­nated this year, 5 were one of the top char­i­ties in their cause area (ac­cord­ing to ei­ther OpenPhil, GiveWell, TLYCS or ACE). All of the top 3 char­i­ties, in­clud­ing the even­tual win­ner, were top char­i­ties, with Ev­i­dence Ac­tion as the even­tual win­ner, which will re­ceive sev­eral hun­dred pounds. Stu­dents also made and voted on videos for Pro­ject for Awe­some. My in­for­mal eval­u­a­tion of the im­pact is that the ex­is­tence of earn­ing to give as a po­ten­tial ca­reer path, AI al­ign­ment re­search as a le­gi­t­i­mate and im­por­tant aca­demic field, and effec­tive al­tru­ism as an ap­proach to think­ing about the world, are all ideas that many stu­dents in the school now take se­ri­ously.


This sec­tion is writ­ten by Jamie Har­ris, who used to teach at a sixth form col­lege (ages 16-19) near Lon­don, UK.

I in­tro­duced an op­tional, ex­tra-cur­ricu­lar club teach­ing the SHIC cur­ricu­lum. The col­lege was not fee-pay­ing, but the stu­dents mostly came from quite priv­ileged back­grounds. In the first year, I ran it over six sep­a­rate hour-long ses­sions af­ter col­lege on Tues­days. In the sec­ond year, I ran it over the en­tire year in 40 minute ses­sions at lunch times, with var­i­ous ad­di­tional ses­sions.

In the first year, I started with about 20 at­ten­dees, fal­ling to about 10 by the end. In the sec­ond year, I started with about 15, fal­ling to about 8. For con­text, there are about 2,400 stu­dents in the col­lege that I taught at.

Pos­i­tive out­comes:

  • I learned quite a lot about EA top­ics my­self through the con­tent. My main area of in­ter­est has always been farmed an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy, but teach­ing the course en­hanced my knowl­edge of top­ics like global poverty and AI safety, when I was fairly new to EA.

  • The stu­dents who came seemed to en­joy it and it prob­a­bly in­creased their knowl­edge.

  • In the sec­ond year, we or­ganised a fundraiser which raised a few hun­dred pounds to be split be­tween AMF, GiveDirectly, and SCI.

  • There were some ex­am­ples of deeper en­gage­ment: stu­dents seemed happy to vol­un­teer for in­volve­ment in the fundraiser, and two stu­dents cre­ated two videos for Pro­ject 4 Awe­some, with my help.

Nega­tive out­comes and dis­ap­point­ments:

  • Far fewer stu­dents ex­pressed in­ter­est than I had hoped

  • At var­i­ous points, I had some in­di­ca­tions that the stu­dents I be­lieved to have been most en­gaged with the ses­sions and ideas had not grasped some of the key con­cepts, or at least weren’t very good at ap­ply­ing them. E.g. I had a ses­sion where I dis­cussed the Christ­mas fundraiser cam­paigns by The Tele­graph (a con­ser­va­tive UK news­pa­per). One of the most en­gaged stu­dents was adamant that it was prefer­able that the Tele­graph fundraise for guide dogs (I think this was the ex­am­ple) rather than AMF (of which he was per­son­ally very sup­port­ive) on the ba­sis that do­ing so was more tractable.

  • None of the stu­dents took up my offers for fur­ther dis­cus­sion of ca­reer plans or en­gage­ment with ideas re­lat­ing to EA.

  • Although the stu­dents were ex­cited about the fundraiser, it took a lot of my own time.

  • We were un­able to in­fluence the ex­ist­ing char­i­ta­ble ac­tivi­ties of the col­lege.

Ques­tions and un­cer­tain­ties:

  • Would the re­ac­tion have been very differ­ent in differ­ent schools, even with­out much change to the ways that I ap­proached and ad­ver­tised the club?

  • How differ­ent would the re­ac­tion have been if I had pro­moted the ses­sions differ­ently or run them in an­other way? I am un­sure how far off from the ideal im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­gramme that I was.

  • How valuable is the vague gen­eral aware­ness of im­pact-fo­cused dis­cus­sion of char­i­ties? E.g. has the ex­is­tence of the club in­di­rectly con­tributed to sig­nifi­cant im­prove­ments in the al­lo­ca­tion of char­i­ta­ble giv­ing of staff and stu­dents, or will it do so in the fu­ture?

Along with an­other EA who was a teacher at the time, I also spent some time cre­at­ing a cur­ricu­lum that was in­tended to be taught in schools with a younger age group (11-16) in the UK. We spent about 40 hours on the pro­ject. The re­sources have 313 views with an es­ti­mated 200 down­loads of the en­tire set of re­sources, but I’m not sure if those who down­loaded the re­sources used them, or how pos­i­tive this would even be.

Some thoughts about EA out­reach in ed­u­ca­tional set­tings:

  • As with all EA out­reach, there is a trade­off be­tween aiming for larger au­di­ences and aiming for higher fidelity, more in­ten­sive out­reach. I think this trade­off is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for out­reach in ed­u­ca­tional set­tings be­cause the ex­tremes seem more tractable than the mid­dle ground, e.g. seek­ing to in­te­grate a small amount of dis­cus­sion of EA ideas in a na­tional cur­ricu­lum, or di­rectly teach­ing a small num­ber of promis­ing stu­dents.

  • Re­lat­edly, there is a de­ci­sion to be made be­tween seek­ing to pri­mar­ily have im­pact in­di­rectly, through the teach­ing of or­di­nary teach­ers us­ing EA re­sources and ideas, through the di­rect teach­ing of full time EA staff, or through a num­ber of vaguely EA-al­igned teacher vol­un­teers.

  • Are there ex­ist­ing in­sti­tu­tions who can be col­lab­o­rated with and whose re­sources can be used to sup­port the growth of EA? Ex­am­ples might be Teach First (UK) or Teach for Amer­ica (US), both of which de­scribe them­selves as be­ing mo­ti­vated by pos­i­tive so­cial im­pact.

I am cur­rently most op­ti­mistic about the ideas of seek­ing to in­tro­duce a small amount of high qual­ity EA con­tent into na­tional cur­ricu­lums, or us­ing so­cially mo­ti­vated ex­ist­ing or­gani­sa­tions to in­tro­duce a small amount of EA con­tent into schools through their em­ploy­ees. For other ideas of us­ing ed­u­ca­tional ca­reers to sup­port EA move­ment growth, see this sheet I cre­ated a year or so ago.

Feel free to ask me for clar­ifi­ca­tion in the com­ments or to reach out to me di­rectly at james_a_har­ris@hot­mail.co.uk.


This sec­tion is au­thored by Se­bas­tian Becker, who be­tween 2016 and 2018 taught at a sec­ondary school (age 10-16) in a low-in­come neigh­bour­hood in England as a par­ti­ci­pant of the Teach First pro­gramme.

In au­tumn 2017, I used parts of the SHIC cur­ricu­lum in 6 one-hour les­sons with my year 7 tu­tor group of 29 stu­dents, aged 10-11. The con­tent was de­liv­ered dur­ing PSHE (Per­sonal, So­cial and Health Ed­u­ca­tion) les­son time. I was able to do so as the PSHE cur­ricu­lum lead teacher had failed to provide a cur­ricu­lum for the half-term, so teach­ers were free to cre­ate their own les­sons.

I also de­liv­ered 15-minute as­sem­blies on Singer’s drown­ing child ar­gu­ment to the year 7 and year 8 co­horts (aged 10-13) of my school (300 stu­dents). The as­sem­blies seemed to be well re­ceived by the stu­dents.

In or­der to adapt the les­sons to the younger age of my stu­dents, I usu­ally used only parts of the con­tent of a given SHIC les­son. I re­moved things which I judged to be too com­pli­cated for the stu­dents or cut down on some of the longer videos.

The stu­dents were en­gaged, more than in an av­er­age maths class and prob­a­bly also more en­gaged than in an av­er­age PSHE les­son. I think this might have been due to sev­eral fac­tors, among them:

  • The stu­dents no­ticed that I was pas­sion­ate about the topic

  • When play­ing the giv­ing game, I com­mit­ted to donat­ing £50 to the char­ity the class would choose, to “raise the stakes”

  • Some of the ma­te­rial caught their in­ter­est, in par­tic­u­lar a video about the liv­ing con­di­tions in very poor countries

The stu­dents seemed quite con­vinced by ar­gu­ments that one should con­sider the cost-effec­tive­ness of one’s dona­tions. When play­ing the giv­ing game, the ma­jor­ity of the stu­dents were in favour of donat­ing to PlayPumps be­fore en­gag­ing with the ma­te­rial, but over­whelm­ingly voted in favour of donat­ing to AMF af­ter­wards.

Left table: votes in the Giv­ing Game be­fore (1) and af­ter (2) en­gage­ment with the Giv­ing Game ma­te­rial.

In­ter­pre­ta­tion of stu­dent re­ac­tion: I was some­what sur­prised by how sus­cep­ti­ble the stu­dents were to EA-ar­gu­ments. My ini­tial scep­ti­cism was, firstly, based on the fact the school is lo­cated in a very poli­ti­cally con­ser­va­tive area. In a mock elec­tion in 2015, the im­mi­gra­tion-scep­ti­cal UKIP party had won the plu­ral­ity of stu­dent votes. I there­fore thought the stu­dents would ar­gue that one should be more con­cerned with lo­cal, rather than global poverty, how­ever, this ar­gu­ment was never raised. It’s pos­si­ble that I was able to pre-emp­tively ad­dress this con­cern by shar­ing Giv­ing What We Can’s “How Rich Am I” calcu­la­tor with the class (I also made ex­plicit that there could cir­cum­stances were some­one might not be able to donate).

Th­ese les­sons helped me prac­tice ex­plain­ing EA ideas and strength­ened my com­mit­ment to EA as the ex­pe­rience was gen­er­ally mo­ti­vat­ing. How­ever, I can’t as­sess whether the les­sons had any last­ing effects on the stu­dents. Given that the stu­dents were only 10 or 11 years old and hence the time when they will make sig­nifi­cant dona­tion or ca­reer de­ci­sions are quite far away, it seems fair to doubt this. It is pos­si­ble that they dis­cussed the ideas with their par­ents and the les­sons had an in­di­rect effect on the par­ents.

Con­tact: sebbecker@gmx.net


We’d like to thank David Moss and Ida Sprengers for re­view­ing this post, the nu­mer­ous vol­un­teers who have helped with these var­i­ous efforts, and to The Life You Can Save who pro­vided dona­tion money to al­low Giv­ing Games to be run at schools.



  1. Some of the con­trib­u­tors chose not to pub­lish their full names.

  2. Fun fact—by the time we did this talk Dan and Bren­ton had spent so much time to­gether that Bren­ton’s mum can’t tell their voices apart in this video.

  3. We in­cluded a so­cial de­sir­a­bil­ity test in our sur­vey to at­tempt to mea­sure this bias, how­ever there was no clear cor­re­la­tion be­tween the so­cial de­sir­a­bil­ity score and shifts in stu­dent re­sponses from the pre-work­shop sur­vey to post-work­shop sur­vey.

  4. We in­vited all Grade 11 and 12 stu­dents we had an email ad­dress of. For stu­dents who par­ti­ci­pated in the full SHIC pro­gram in the Win­ter and Spring terms of early 2018, pro­vid­ing a con­tact email was manda­tory. In Sum­mer and Fall 2018 19% of the stu­dents vol­un­tar­ily gave us a con­tact email.