Executive Director at Giving What We Can and Board Chairperson Effective Altruism Australia
Many of the regranting organisations were/are largely volunteer run. EAA only hired a part time staff member to do accounting after ~4 years running and moving $1m+ per year (now at ~$4 million p/a with still <1 FTE).
Pretty much every major EA org I can think of started volunteer run while people were working/studying. CEA started on the back of Giving What We Can & 80,000 Hours which had been mostly volunteer run by students/academics.
I’m thrilled to see so much innovation within EA. From the Patient Philanthropy Fund to Charity Entrepreneurship’s new charities including 2 meta-charities, many workplace and industry groups being launched, effectivecrypto.org, Effective Giving Quest, and so much more!
GWWC saw our biggest growth year on record, with already ~2,000 new pledges (including trial pledges) and a significant increase in our reach of audiences that are entirely new to EA.
During 2021 we grew the GWWC team from 1 staff member to five regular staff. I’m now pretty honoured to be working with outstanding colleagues who are working hard to grow the community of effective givers.
Our Common Agenda, a major UN report, was released which “explicitly uses longtermist language and concepts, and suggests concrete proposals for institutions to represent future generations and manage catastrophic and existential risks.”
The WHO recommended widespread use of the new malaria vaccine – another excellent tool in the fight against malaria.
Broadly agree, just making the distinction between individuals optimising for personal impact across the different parts of their lives is different to organisations optimising for impact specifically by evaluating philanthropic opportunities.
That being said, they both benefit from thinking about sustainability (don’t pull funding instantly when an exit grant would be more impactful; don’t spend all your philanthropic capital on the first best option; don’t run your employees into the ground to get more hours of evaluation out of them until they quit from burnout).
Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry to hear about the difficult times too. I had some serious burnout a couple of years ago too. Like Peter said, I think that certain personalities are likely to be more attracted to EA ideas and it helps when we share these experiences with each other and be mindful about this.
My preferred framing of EA is ‘doing good better’ for this reason. I also really like how Charlie Bresler frames it as doing your personal best and how Hayden Wilkinson’s talk about doing less good for good reason shows this mathematically.
Sustainability is super important if you’re going to have an impact over the longterm.
Often the best way to maximise is to satisfice most decisions and focus on leverage (e.g. 80:20 rule).
When people speak with me about ambitious donation targets I applaud their commitment, ambition and desire to help others and then have a chat about sustainability and thinking about what they can imagine still doing in 20 years time (and feeling great about it). Many GWWC members have told me that they like the 10% pledge for the reason that they can just satisfice and pick a number that’s meaningful/significant but sustainable (and then many give more later in life once it’s clearer what they need etc). It’s often much better than being stuck in indecision and giving nothing or feeling compelled to give too much too soon.
Being healthy and happy gives you a nice strong foundation to go out and make the world better.
Personally, I’ve found practices like mindfulness, journaling, and scheduling in leisure time helpful. Also, I’ve just softened a bit with age and realised that I’m not invincible, that I’m a human who has limits and needs to take care of the basics and build from there.
Thanks for sharing 😀
What a great initiative 😀. Out of interest, what’s the main differentiators between this and EA Medicine and are there plans to collaborate/cross promote?
Not all that weird, but a lot of my giving over the years went to personally subsidising meta things such as participant fees for academic studies on EA topics, EA events (dinners for speakers, food for groups, ads to promote outreach events, seed funding for conference etc) and operational funding shortfalls (e.g. credit card fees, accounting costs for EAA). CEA does provide much more community building and conference support now though and places like Rethink are funding more studies.
I’m very sorry to hear that you regret taking The Pledge and feel that the EA community in 2014 should have actively discouraged you from taking it in the first place.
If you believe it’s better for you and the world that you unpledge then you should feel free to do so. I also strongly endorse this statement from the 2017 post that KevinO quoted:
“The spirit of the Pledge is not to stop you from doing more good, and is not to lead you to ruin. If you find that it’s doing either of these things, you should probably break the Pledge.”
I would very much appreciate hearing further details about why you feel as strongly as you do about actively discouraging other people from taking The Pledge and the way this is done circa 2021.
Last year we collaborated with group leaders and CEA groups team to write a new guide to promoting GWWC within local and university groups (comment using this link). In that guide we tried to be pretty clear about the things to be careful of such as proposing that younger adults be encouraged to consider taking a trial pledge first if that is more appropriate for them (while also respecting their agency as adults) – there are many more people taking this option as of 2021 compared with 2014 (~50% vs ~25% respectively). We also find that most new members these days started by giving first before making a pledge, and this is something that we actively encourage and will be further developing during 2022.
Personally, I’ve found giving to be something that has been very meaningful to me during my entire involvement in EA and that The Pledge was a way of formalising that in a meaningful, motivating and sustainable way. My experience isn’t dissimilar to what we hear regularly from many members, and it has also been demonstrated by the various EA surveys (including the recent one by Open Philanthropy) which show GWWC to be a strong way in which people engage with EA (it was one of the top ranked for positive to negative engagement ratio).
However, I certainly don’t want to diminish any negative experiences that you or anyone else has had in the past and it is very important to me that we learn carefully how to get the most positive outcomes.
I’d be more than happy to talk further about this on a call, or by email, or to continue the discussion on this thread.
A good “default option” that might look like this (and some other similar ideas) is something we are looking at with GWWC.
Is this form meant to require a Google Account login?
Love this post. In particular, I’d be keen for much closer collaboration on hiring!
Thanks Jamie! This is a really great and helpful post!
(Quick note that the link in “Googleable, like this one, as well as” is broken).