My husband Joey and I run a nonprofit, and we pay ourselves what we would make if the world’s wealth was entirely equally distributed. Often when people hear this they think that we live like austere monks, eating nothing but rice and beans, drinking only water, and working until we drop from exhaustion. However, we actually live a very comfortable lifestyle. I think one reason for this is that we have thought strategically about how to have fun on a budget. We’ve learned a lot from this experience and in this blog post I’ll explain more about how we do a lot with a little.
How do we get more EA charities started? There’s a good case that charity entrepreneurship is high impact for EAs, but it seems not many are starting them. Part of the reason is that it’s intimidatingly hard. Not only do you have to have multiple rare and difficult skills, but you also have to choose a good idea to begin with. And if people are put off by the uncertainty of career selection, that’s nothing compared to the sheer ambiguity of all the potential interventions one could run. That is why we are starting a new program called Charity Entrepreneurship.
There have been previous posts about the impact of founding a new GiveWell top charity, the impact of charity founding, and some of the results of charities founded by effective altruists. This post, however, focuses on a specific question I get a lot. Namely, why should EAs in particular start charities? This is especially a concern for many EAs who are younger or inexperienced.
Track record and tractability
Historically, some of the highest impact individuals in the EA movement and across the broader world have been people who founded effective charities. The difference between an average charity and the top charities is likely very large. Estimates for how large this difference is range from 10 to 1,000 times more impactful.