I definitely see a case for EAs working in larger organizations and shaping policy. Some exposure to hierarchical and political settings might also be valuable for charity entrepreneurs. It helps you see the world from the perspective of a public servant or politician. Of course, this perspective can also be gained as an outsider, but it is sometimes easier to experience it firsthand. For individuals interested mostly in charity entrepreneurship as opposed to policy, I would not recommend my former career path and suggest moving into entrepreneurship more immediately.
Thanks for your question, Jonas! In addition to the usual EA literature, the book “Poor Economics” by the recent Nobel prize winners Duflo and Banerjee had a considerable impact on me, as it makes a convincing case that global poverty can be fought with a more pragmatic and science-based approach. I also noticed that despite working for larger institutions early in my career I enjoyed the creative and experimental work at startups. The challenge of getting from 0 to maybe 50-80% implementation of a project is one that I enjoy, as it usually consists of hands-on work across multiple disciplines. I was also lucky to have met my partners in crime Svetha and Prat when I started my entrepreneurial journey at New Incentives.
Hi Matt, we are optimistic that a remote program would provide a similar value as the in-person program. Many of the project-based work happens in pairs, which translates well into the online world. Several charities, including CE incubatees, already operate remotely.
We are currently redesigning the curriculum to make it fully remote-compatible. As you have seen here, the core content of the program will be published in a freely available online handbook anyhow, so we don’t have to translate a lot of content to online courses and are ready to take any necessary steps. A final decision on the program’s format will be taken in the next few weeks.
Thanks for your interest in the program, Vitor! Our team supports participants in securing visas, e.g. through letters of recommendation. We don’t have the capacity to manage the full process though. Based on our past experience, we are optimistic that we can solve visa issues in most cases.
Indeed, Michael. Initially, you are a Jack of all trades and might work on high-level strategy, fundraising but also office logistics and IT issues on a given day (see the section unglamorous work here). As time progresses, you hand over more and more of your tasks to employees or contractors and focus on your organization’s strategy, recruitment, and management.
Exactly. I co-coordinated the campaign last year. We are currently following up with high-impact NGOs and city officials to contribute to effective implementation where possible. We are also looking into scaling the initiative in additional Swiss cities.
The best resource for this question is our Idea Prioritization Reports. They summarize the roughly top ten interventions our research team is currently looking at in detail.
See the reports for family planning, animal welfare, health and development policy, as well as mental health and happiness. Alternatively, you can get an overview in our summary of CE’s 2020 research plans.
Good question, Michael. We are laser-focused on research in our four focus areas at the moment, so could not recommend any particular outside interventions. In general, we would recommend applying with ideas that are evidence-based, cost-effective, and neglected.
Valid point, Mathias. Our goal is to recruit founders with an EA-mindset from around the globe. Understanding the local context is a clear plus in this regard. We would, however, not trade that for other values (e.g. unwillingness to focus on cost-effectiveness). Of course, that mindset is not limited to a particular region. In general, we believe in a balance between an outside perspective (i.e. a fresh pair of eyes) and a local perspective (i.e. that offers valuable contextual knowledge).
In addition to being linked to a co-founder with local knowledge, it can also be helpful to rely on staff or partners who can add local knowledge. I have personally learned tons from fantastic colleagues in Nigeria.
Interesting question, Matt. At the top, we would put thoroughly researching and comparing charity ideas. Without that, the other steps are lost. The second priority would be finding a suitable pre-screened co-founder in the course of various matchmaking exercises, while also getting intros to mentors and donors. Third, seed funding, legal services, and office space. Lastly, we would rank the skills and training. Many resources in this regard are available online or can be learned on the job. We will also publish our CE Handbook on starting a charity—it’ll be available for free online by June. Having said that, we still believe we add value here, as program participants get one-on-one coaching and learn to produce real-life work outputs (e.g. theory of change, fundraising plans). You can read more about our curriculum here.
I understand where you are coming from. Our general belief is that an evidence-based idea coupled with a strong and value-aligned founder is a recipe for success. We would rather have a smart inexperienced person who believes in the methods of science and cost-effectiveness than a domain expert who thinks less in these terms. In this sense, being an impact-focused effective altruist is a “unique capability”.
We do, however, acknowledge that expertise and experience can add a lot of value. Our recruitment targets experts from subfields of our cause areas as well, e.g. young global mental health professionals. In the program, we try to pair generalists with domain experts, whenever possible. In addition, many founders recruit domain experts as their first hires.
Interesting question! Our current bottleneck is seed funding for new charities. We consider donations to our charities to be a high-impact opportunity for institutional and individual donors. Researching a sufficient number of ideas has been a bottleneck in the past, but we have been able to address it by expanding our research team. In terms of promising applicants, there is no shortage at the scale of 20-30 participants per year but it could become an issue as we scale as well.
If we go with an online program this year, this will provide an interesting learning ground in terms of scaling up our course platform, similar to what Y Combinator is doing with Startup School.