This site is intended to be an introduction to effective altruism. It is currently under development, and the full site will be taken live in due course. If you would like to contribute to this effort please contact us.
Effective altruism is a growing community based around the idea of aiming to do the most good that one can
- Being open to all the possible ways to do good and pursuing the path with the biggest positive impact
- Using evidence to figure out how to do the most good
- Making helping others an important part of your life
What is effective altruism?
- There are so many problems in the world, from extreme poverty, gender inequality, animal suffering, risk of war, and thousands more.
- One person cannot solve all of these problems in their lifetime. This means we need to prioritize.
- Effective altruism is about asking: of all the possible ways to make a difference, which will make the most difference?
Of all the possible ways to make a difference, which will make the most difference?
The question is extremely difficult, but there is a growing body of research that can help us to answer it: Through this research, we have found that it’s in the power of individuals to do tremendous amounts of good. Simply by pledging to donate a proportion of one’s earnings to the most cost-effective causes, or by altering one’s career trajectory, we each have the power to significantly improve the lives of thousands of others.
The question is extremely difficult, but there is a growing body of research that can help us to answer it:
Through this research, we have found that it’s in the power of individuals to do tremendous amounts of good. Simply by pledging to donate a proportion of one’s earnings to the most cost-effective causes, or by altering one’s career trajectory, we each have the power to significantly improve the lives of thousands of others.
What has effective altruism achieved?
- Pledged over $250,000,000 to tackling global poverty via Giving What We Can
- Paid for over 1,000,000 bed nets to protect against malaria via GiveWell and Against Malaria Foundation1
- Funded the deworming of over 4,000,000 schoolchildren via GiveWell and SCI2
- Helped 100s of young people to choose careers with the aim of maximising their social impact via 80,000 Hours3
- Raised over $10,000,000 for direct cash transfers to some of the world’s poorest people via GiveWell and GiveDirectly4
- Advising the $3,000,000,000 foundation GoodVentures via GiveWell5
- Providing policy advice for the UK Government via the Global Priorities Project and the Centre for Effective Altruism6
What do effective altruists do?
There are a wide variety of ways to do a huge amount of good in the world.
Many effective altruists do good by making donations. For example, Julia Wise, a social worker, and her husband Jeff Kaufman, an engineer at Google, donate 60% of their income to the most cost-effective causes.7
Here are some examples of other paths:
- Setting up companies with a social mission. Lincoln Quirk co-founded Wave, which dramatically reduces the costs for US immigrants to send money back to their families.
- Setting up non-profits. Finding that university wasn’t teaching her the skills she needed, Xio Kikauka left in order to set up Charity Science, which fundraises for the most cost-effective charities.
- Research. Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfield quit their jobs at an investment management firm, in order found GiveWell and do charity evaluation.
- Politics. Habiba Islam took up law and is now building skills in strategy consulting with the aim of moving into politics.
- Advocacy and education. Julia Galef co-founded the Centre for Applied Rationality, in order to improve the people’s decision-making skills.
How can I get involved?
The easiest way to get involved is to join us, and we will send you an email with some easy ways that you can get more involved.
I want to start having an impact now…
Set up a regular donation to one of GiveWell’s top-recommended charities. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, it’s a good habit to get into and means that you will start improving people’s lives right away.
What else can I do?
Beyond that, you might want to consider:
- Taking the Giving What We Can 10% pledge
- Taking The Life You Can Save pledge, which varies according to your income
- Visiting our Facebook group, and asking to Skype someone8
- Signing up for a one-on-one career coaching session at 80,000 Hours
- Reading more
Find out more
GiveWell has raised over $10m for Against Malaria Foundation, which buys bed nets at the cost of less than $7 each. This suggests that the community will have enabled at least one million bed nets to be delivered once the distributions have been arranged by Against Malaria Foundation. ↩
GiveWell has raised over $4m for Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, which funds deworming for parasitic worm infections at the cost of less than $1 per treatment. This suggests that the community has provided the funds for the treatment of over four million children from parasitic worm infections. ↩
GiveWell has raised over $12m for Give Directly. Give Directly have been ensuring at least 87% of their intervention expenses end up in the hands of their programme recipients. This suggests that the community will have provided at least $10m in funding for direct cash transfers to some of the world’s poorest people. ↩
The Global Priorities Project is a project of the Centre For Effective Altruism, which also houses Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours. Staff from the Centre of Effective Altruism have had many meetings with UK Government officials in a range of departments including the Prime Minister’s Office, the Government Office for Science, the Cabinet Office, and the Department for International Development on a range of policy issues. ↩
Jeff and Julia donate 60% of their post-tax income, which is equivalent to approximately 30% of their pre-tax income. ↩
We’re very willing to help each other out, and always enjoy talking about ways of increasing our impact! ↩