In the past, Charity Entrepreneurship (CE) has been focused on poverty charities, founding one ourselves and supporting the creation of another, both of which were GiveWell incubated. So why the shift in our research focus? Ultimately, it comes down to what we think is the highest impact area to focus on. Some of the factors that most influenced us were:
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.
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.
A lot of people in the EA movement have a large say over their salary, whether it be earning to give where you can donate down to a certain amount or working for a nonprofit where you take a lower salary. EAs are a unique group in that many of them are taking a salary they feel is ethical instead of the average amount the market would pay for someone of their skill set. So what amount is ethical.
Charity Entrepreneurship was a project started by the Charity Science team with the intention of founding a highly effective charity (e.g., one that was competitive with the cost-effectiveness of current Givewell recommended charities). After six months of research into different priority program areas we found five ideas we think are worth starting a charity around. We launched Charity Science Health to start one of them.
This post was previously published at EA forum by Peter Hurford
We all make decisions every day. Some of these decisions are pretty inconsequential, such as what to have for an afternoon snack. Some of these decisions are quite consequential, such as where to live or what to dedicate the next year of your life to. Finding a way to make these decisions better is important.
Everything takes longer
One of the biggest things we noticed while in India was that it takes large amounts of time even to accomplish fairly routine tasks relative to trying to do them in Canada. This no doubt was in part due to our unfamiliarity with the country, but based on what we saw, we think this could also be true even for natives, though to a lesser extent. For example, basic tasks like getting a vaccine or getting a cell phone set up were far cheaper but took far longer than doing the equivalent task in Canada. For example, getting a vaccine required considerable time and many different small steps for payments and waits (getting the appointment, for getting the consultation, prescription, getting prescription filled, getting injection, paying for each step).
When we decided to do this project many of our advisors suggested we spend time in the developing world to get a stronger sense of some factors that we wouldn’t from reading the statistics. Only one member of our team had spent significant time in the developing world and we thought there could be considerable learning value from spending some time there.
Charity Entrepreneurship has been running for about one month so far with intentions to complete our shallow intervention research in two months (by the start of March). In this time we have also moved to India, which slowed down our research considerably over the first week. We feel as though we are roughly on pace, although we might not fully complete this section until mid-March.
Our team is now in India, and one of the first things we did was arrange a tour of a large slum in New Delhi. We did this through PETE, a local nonprofit that provides free educational programs,. This tour was very informative and we wanted to write up a quick post on some of the biggest things we learned.
We wanted to publish a quick update of a summary timeline and broad phases of our project. All these numbers are tentative, and we expect they will change as we conduct the research and get a better sense of each step. Throughout this whole process there will also be ongoing logistical and meta-work to support these main activities.