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.
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!
Charity Entrepreneurship co-founded Charity Science Health in 2016, and helped launch Suvita through our 2019 Incubation Program. Today we’re proud to announce that the two organizations are joining forces to form a COVID-19 response team, in collaboration with Dr. Sebastian Bauhoff of Harvard and his research team.
When I first encountered the concept of Effective Altruism, the whole thing was very abstract. We all want to do the most good, but to someone from the outside, the specifics of what exactly is being done within the movement can be a little opaque.
Now, a few months into working at Charity Entrepreneurship, I still wouldn’t claim to fully understand effective altruism as a movement -- but I’ve decided to write up some things I have seen, to help others get a glimpse of the particular people and the culture of the organization that I work with. Other effective altruist organizations have also written documents describing their work culture, contributing to transparency in the movement. I think that this perspective is especially helpful for people who are applying to work at effective altruist organizations. My hope is that readers of this article could get a sense of whether working at Charity Entrepreneurship could be a good fit for them.
Slatestarcodex had an interesting post regarding the equal application of rigor in philosophy. This principle can be applied in a practical sense to effective altruist interventions as well.
The art of task management can seem elusive, with monk-like adherents following complex sets of belief systems to arrive at the holy grail of maximum productivity. While advanced users of task management and productivity techniques might indeed beat the average entrepreneur by far, the Pareto principle applies here as well: 20% of effort may give you 80% of the benefits. Pareto Productivity presents simple task management guidelines that go a long way. So feel free to cancel your 21-day productivity retreat and return the fancy sleep tracking ring. This will get you covered in much less than one Pomodoro slot.
Charity entrepreneurship in many ways is a less stable career than a traditional job. Charities in their early days will have limited runways (often under six months). At any point, results could come in showing that an intervention is not worth continuing. On the other hand, value drift is an important consideration. Losing motivation to achieve altruistic impact happens more quickly than one would expect (see Empirical Data on Value Drift and Concrete Ways to Reduce Value Drift). Hence, it is better to donate more to effective causes now than to accumulate a large safety buffer that you might spend ineffectively in the case of value drift. So a question arises: how much personal runway or savings should someone have when becoming a charity entrepreneur?
Charity Entrepreneurship is part of the Effective Altruism movement. If you’re going through our incubation program, it’s likely that your potential donors, employees, partner organizations, and other stakeholders come from the effective altruism community.
While the basic premise of effective altruism seems simple, the set of ideas considered “common knowledge” among people heavily involved in effective altruism can be quite complicated. In some ways, we might conceptualize effective altruism as a field of study - it has a few frequently cited influential thinkers, a set of widely read canonical works, an internal jargon, and several diverging schools of thought. If you’re new to effective altruism, becoming well-versed in this contextual knowledge will help you communicate with other people in the movement more easily.
A “stakeholder” is anyone who has an interest in your non-profit. Some typical stakeholders you might encounter include:
How you interact with stakeholders depends on what type of role they play in your theory of change - in other words, how important they are in achieving your outcome.
We have written previously about the expected value of founding an impactful charity in direct terms, considering the largest and most direct impacts such as lives saved. However, these impacts are far from the only ones. Founding a new charity can impact your future ability to do good, your team's ability, and the charitable movement as a whole. We consider this collection of benefits the non-direct impact of charity entrepreneurship as a career. This post is about the impact of charity entrepreneurship on your team's ability to do good.
For the safety of participants and to support the effort to contain COVID-19, Charity Entrepreneurship has decided to hold our 2020 Incubation Program remotely (as an online program) from June 29 to August 28. We’ve also extended the deadline for applications till April 21.