We often tell the tale of the gritty founder: the one who persisted in the face of incredible hardship. Grit comes up in a number of books and is consistently mentioned as a core trait for great entrepreneurs. You might say the proselytizers of grit have exemplified the trait in their consistency of its use.
Arthur felt the smoke first; it stung his eyes and filled his lungs. As he turned the corner the sight of the house on fire lit up the night. He could see bright flames through the windows and black smoke billowing from cracks in the walls. Hearing a scream from inside the house, Arthur did not think. No one else was around and he knew he had to help.
There are many ways to use entrepreneurship to make the world a better place. Our organization Charity Entrepreneurship focuses on the founding of new charities. But why charities and not social ventures or for-profit ventures? In this post, we explain some of the differences between these areas, why we focus on charities, and what to consider when assessing your personal fit for each of the options.
The founders of CE have been involved with effective altruism, global poverty and animal issues since 2013, and have helped launch numerous projects. In this post, you’ll learn a bit more about our past and how Charity Entrepreneurship was born.
When you are wheeled into a hospital with a broken arm, you place your trust in multiple people and establishments. You trust that the nurses are giving you the right medication to prepare you, and that the doctor will make the right call on how to fix your arm. And yet you personally know relatively little about the specific treatments that are going to be applied.
We defer to people all the time on different issues, whether it’s the doctor at a hospital, the weatherman for the forecast, or the baker who tells us the bread is fresh. Even in our domains of expertise many judgment calls are made by others, and we have to trust or distrust their data.
Knowing who to trust is both a difficult and important skill. Trust the wrong person, and they can fill your head with wrong information. But trust no one, and you have to fix every broken bone yourself. So how can we determine who to trust – who is credible and who is not?
There are four key ways to determine whether a source or person is worth putting your trust in. In descending order of how good an indicator it is, you can:
We recently hosted an online event, “Impactful opportunities around and adjacent to charity entrepreneurship”. In this short talk and Q&A session, we covered topics like:
Charity Entrepreneurship recently organized an online chat about early-stage hiring for new nonprofit start-ups. Our discussion ranged from initial reflections on whether or not to hire, all the way through to best practices for management and remote working. For every aspect of early-stage hiring, here are the top tips from our entrepreneur attendees.
1. Why Charity Entrepreneurship Is Researching Animals
The CE team generally believes that animals are conscious and morally relevant agents. Given the numbers of animals involved in animal agriculture and other animal-use endeavors, this makes it a high scale and high importance issue.
2. Why Charity Entrepreneurship Is Researching Mental Health and Happiness
On broad considerations of scale and neglectedness, it is shocking to see how little government funding is spent in this area relative to the size of the problem. Self-harm, mental, neurological, and substance use disorders account for 12% of the global burden of disease when measured in DALYs. But in 2016, the median government spending on mental healthcare was as little as 2.4% of all healthcare spending.
3. Why Charity Entrepreneurship is Researching Family Planning
According to the United Nations Population Division, in 2019, 190 million women worldwide reported that although they did not want to become pregnant, nor are they using any method of contraception. This gap represents ten percent of all women of reproductive age worldwide, and is referred to as the unmet need for family planning.
4. Why Charity Entrepreneurship is Researching EA Meta
EA meta has always been an area we have been excited about and think holds promise (after all, CE is a meta charity). In the past we have not focused on meta areas for a few reasons. One of the most important is that we wanted to confirm the impact of the CE model in more measurable areas such as global health and animal advocacy. After two formal programs we are now sufficiently confident in the model to expand to more meta charities.
5. All Health Reports 2020
Our in-depth health reports cover five recommended ideas and nine more considered but not recommended ideas. Health policy, family planning, and mental health are all included.
6. All Animal Reports 2020
Our in-depth animal reports cover three current top recommended ideas and sixty-four related reports. These include reports on target animals, countries, asks, and approaches.
Where to next? The CE Handbook: A How-to for Charity Entrepreneurs
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1. What traits make a great charity entrepreneur?
We talk about some key personality traits and skills we think are necessary for a successful charity entrepreneur. The good news is, your personality is dynamic. Use this list as a starting point to cultivate certain traits and build your skills.
2. Why founding charities could be the best thing you could do
Historically, some of the highest impact individuals in the EA movement and across the globe have been people who founded effective charities. The Esther Duflos and Rob Mathers of the world have saved a life for every day they’ve lived. Could you follow in their footsteps?
3. Charity Entrepreneurship Impacts on Your Future Ability to Do Good
By founding a new charity, you can positively affect your and your team’s future ability to do good, as well as influence the nonprofit sector as a whole. We consider this collection of benefits to be the indirect impact of charity entrepreneurship as a career. This post discusses the impact of charity entrepreneurship on your future ability to do good.
4. Four Reasons Why You Should Consider Charity Entrepreneurship Besides Impact
It’s not a coincidence that many benefits of becoming a charity entrepreneur are related to impact. Yet the advantages of starting your effective non-profit go beyond impact. As a founder, you will grow in various ways. Find out more about four other advantages of charity entrepreneurship.
5. Should I Start a Charity Now or Later?
Is now the right time? Am I experienced enough? These are two major questions for many potential charity entrepreneurs. Here’s our take.
Where to next? Cause areas: An overview
1. Why charity entrepreneurship is one of the highest-impact things you can do.
Video and transcript of a talk by Charity Entrepreneurship's Director, Joey Savoie, discussing why charity entrepreneurship is one of the highest-impact things you can do. He also explains what Charity Entrepreneurship can do to help you start an effective nonprofit.
2. Saving a life every day
Few people have saved someone's life. Those who have, say it’s a profound and surreal experience to know that a person would not be alive if not for your actions. Few jobs give the opportunity to affect someone's life so drastically.
3. Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities
How do we get more great charities started? There’s a good case that charity entrepreneurship is a high impact career, but it seems not many effective nonprofits are started. Part of the reason is that it’s intimidatingly hard. The CE Incubation Program is designed to make this difficult journey as easy as possible.
4. Why Charity Entrepreneurship? From Program participants.
Charity Entrepreneurship’s Incubation Program receives thousands of applicants; of these, we carefully select the top dozen or so. What led them to join the program? Learn more about past incubatees through this video and bios.
5. The Curriculum of Charity Entrepreneurship's 2020 Incubation Program
A focus on co-founder pairing and usable outputs for your charity – these are the tenets Charity Entrepreneurship’s Incubation Program for high-impact NGOs is built on. Our accelerated program allows participants to hit the ground running with their charity start-up after only two months.
Where to next? Is Charity Entrepreneurship right for me?
For 2021 we currently recommend three meta ideas: exploratory altruism, earning to give +, and EA training. A deeper report on each of these will be released in the coming months; this post only intends to give a sense of what the final ideas will look like for applicants to the Incubation Program. The ideas build on extensive interviews with EAs as well as CE’s own research.
Charity Entrepreneurship (CE) is researching EA meta as one of four cause areas in which we plan to launch charities in 2021. EA meta has always been an area we have been excited about and think holds promise (after all, CE is a meta charity). Historically we have not focused on meta areas for a few reasons. One of the most important is that we wanted to confirm the impact of the CE model in more measurable areas such as global health and animal advocacy. After two formal programs we are now sufficiently confident in the model to expand to more meta charities. We were also impressed by the progress and traction that Animal Advocacy Careers made in their first year. Founded based on our research into animal interventions, this organization works at a more meta level than other charities we have incubated.
In this document, I summarize the results of 40 interviews conducted with EA experts. These interviews constitute part of CE’s research into potentially effective new charities that could be founded in 2021 to improve the EA movement as a whole.
What are the most impactful interventions within a particular region? In locations that get less international attention or with fewer effectiveness-minded charities, region-specific research to lay the groundwork for new nonprofits may be one of the most impactful things we can work on. Such research offers the dual benefit of providing a place for donations for funders who are only interested or able to fund in a given location, and of creating entrepreneurial career opportunities that those based in the region would have a competitive advantage for. Ultimately, this regional approach will connect local entrepreneurs to the funding and resources they need to create the future top charities of their home country.
“How are they doing?”, is a question I get asked frequently these days. In 2019 Charity Entrepreneurship incubated six new charities. This built on our own experience founding Charity Science Health and providing support to Fortify Health – both of which received GiveWell incubation grants. Based on this shared experience, here are five lessons learned by our charity entrepreneurs.
The fundraising pitch went well, and thirty days later, you shout in excitement as a six-figure number pops up on your e-banking app. But don’t get too pumped. Now begins the quest of spending your resources diligently. Here are a few key guidelines to consider:
Hundreds of ideas researched, thousands of applications considered, and a two-month intensive Incubation Program culminated in five new charities being founded. Each of these charities has the potential to have a large impact on the world and to become one of the most cost-effective in their field.
We’re delighted to announce the five new charities who have just launched through our 2020 Incubation Program:
Not yet another article about remote work…! At Charity Entrepreneurship, many team members are eager to go back to our London office when the current situation allows. We miss the funny conversations between tasks, the shared lunches, and the common game nights. At the same time, we have found that remote work is feasible and a necessity for many charity entrepreneurs.
New Incentives, for example, has operated as a remote organization for years, both internationally with founders spread out over different countries, and in Nigeria with no offices. While not all organizations might go as far, several 2019 incubatees have also moved to remote operations to some degree, for instance, Fish Welfare Initiative and Suvita.
We’re proud to announce our 2020 Top Charity Ideas!
Each year Charity Entrepreneurship identifies highly effective interventions in chosen cause areas. Our Incubation Program gives participants the skills they need to start high-impact nonprofits based on our top intervention recommendations.
Our 2020 research period focused on four cause areas: mental health, animal advocacy, family planning, and health & development policy. We began with several hundred ideas in each cause area. Progressive stages of our extensive research process whittled down to eight recommended ideas.
Eighty-hour reports linked below illustrate how we came to recommend this year’s top interventions. We also provide Incubation Program participants with implementation reports, which provide specific recommendations to map a path forward for a new charity.
Our 2020 top recommendations are as follows (in no particular order):
At the start of our 2020 Incubation Program, Charity Entrepreneurship released the handbook, How to Start a High-Impact Nonprofit. Now we’re sharing it with the broader community.
The first donation a charity gets is often the most important one
There are many fantastic charitable projects that are too young or too small for the majority of funders to consider. Or that require not only funding but also more engaged forms of mentorship to start an impactful organization. This year, Charity Entrepreneurship received a truly massive number of applications: over 3,000, with many of these applications strong enough - with support - to potentially start a charity that could lead in its field. We have decided to start a fund for early-stage seed grants to support these new organizations.
The Charity Entrepreneurship (CE) Incubation Program has historically been run in person, which made it challenging to share information with a broader audience. However, this year, in part due to Covid-19, we will run the program online. The program will be split into two online training courses focused on the two broad elements required for successful charity founding:
This article outlines some simple tips for how to answer questions you have about your program. These tips will hopefully be useful regardless of what stage you are at with your intervention. Most of my experience comes from running surveys in India with J-PAL and Charity Science Health.
When you found a charity, problems are inevitably going to come up. It could be that a donor you were counting on does not fund the project, a key employee leaves the job, or a government agency requires a document you have never heard of. Underneath the shiny website and carefully branded social media pages, most organizations have a consistent stream of diverse and novel problems. A big part of being a well-rounded and talented charity founder is the ability to solve these novel problems effectively. Hundreds of skills and heuristics can lead to better problem-solving: this article covers five of them.
What to do when a problem is detected:
“100% of participants in CE’s incubation program are excellent managers.” That’s the impression one could get reviewing surveys on participants’ preferences for the two-month program. Usually, nobody thinks that we should put an emphasis on management in our courses. To be fair, there are many good resources on managing people out there. Moreover, many participants have managed staff before.
Yet management is likely one of these skills for which people overestimate their own abilities.
Not too far off the famous experiment from the 1980s according to which 8 out of 10 drivers consider themselves above average. I definitely don’t fall under the illusion that I am a better driver than average (one friend avoids getting into a car with me after a road trip in Ireland… in my defense, they drive in the left lane). But, heck, I have definitely also overestimated my management skills in the past and still learn on a daily basis.
Here are some of the lessons on management we’ve learned at Charity Entrepreneurship – at times naturally, occasionally the hard way.
You are an experienced entrepreneur, charity professional, or researcher with a passion for impact: consider becoming a mentor at Charity Entrepreneurship!