Charity Entrepreneurship is a high-impact career, but fits a limited number of people. In the past, we have written about key personality traits, but many people have asked us for more details and examples of people who are a good fit for charity entrepreneurship. Meet our past incubatees to get a sense of what kind of person we believe has the strongest potential to be an impactful entrepreneur.
Charity Entrepreneurship has run two Incubation Programs, in 2019 and 2020. Our multi-round recruitment process allows us to narrow down from thousands of applicants to the top dozen or so. Each year, we're pleasantly surprised by how many skilled and talented individuals are considering nonprofit entrepreneurship as their high-impact career – it's always a tough decision to pick out those we believe to have the highest potential to start new effective charities.
In this post, you'll get the chance to meet our past incubatees and learn more about what led them to this path. (Applications for the 2021 Incubation Program are open until April 15, so there's still time if you're inspired by their stories!)
BIO: Tom is a recent Philosophy graduate from the University of Southampton. Through philosophy, Tom found himself caught up in difficult ethical questions. As he spent more time considering them, he became more passionate about making the world a better place. This led him to co-found the Southampton Effective Altruism Society with a few friends. Now, Tom is hoping to use his career to improve the world.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: Starting a charity always seemed like too daunting a task for me to take seriously as a step in my early career. However, the CE program removed these anxieties, acting as a guide to smooth off the learning curve. Simply put, starting a charity now seems like one of the best ways for me to help make the world a better place.
BIO: George recently graduated from Southampton with a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. At university, he helped to co-found the Southampton Effective Altruism Society and assisted in running the Vegetarian and Vegan Society. His involvement with these societies and his study of philosophy have greatly influenced his career decisions. George now hopes to be able to apply some of the lessons he has learned to actually improve the world.
Why I chose to join the CE incubation program: I got excited about CE at EA Global in 2018. Before this, I had never really considered entrepreneurship as a career path, as I was under the impression that there were already enough charities. However, I now think that charity entrepreneurship can be an excellent career path for improving the world if you have the right fit. CE’s incubation program is a way to fast-track the acquisition of skills and lessons necessary to successfully found a charity. Moreover, it allows those who may not have considered charity entrepreneurship, or would have only attempted charity entrepreneurship as a career path much later, to start out on this high-impact path much sooner.
BIO: Joel Burke is a serial entrepreneur who founded his first business at 18 years of age. After university, Joel became CMO of a start-up, moved to Silicon Valley, and began working with StartX, the Stanford accelerator. Joel eventually made his way to venture capital and became an early employee at Gigster (YC/Andreessen backed company) and launchcircle (Rocket Internet). He then went on to lead the Business Development team for e-Residency, a division of the government of the Republic of Estonia. Joel is now focused on doing the most good possible via charity entrepreneurship.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: I’ve known I wanted to do a lot of good for the world for most of my life, but until I found EA I didn’t have a great methodology for measuring or understanding how to do that. After getting involved in the movement, I took the Giving What We Can Pledge and became an active community member. While working for the government of Estonia and deciding on my next steps in my career, I was looking at where I could contribute the most. Having been an entrepreneur for much of my career, founding a highly effective charity seemed like a logical choice that fit with both my skill sets and my passions.
BIO: Fiona recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with a first-class bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences and Management. During her time at university, she learned about 80,000 Hours and Effective Altruism, which persuaded her to change career plans from academic research to something where she aims to have more impact. Fiona has been interested in global health for several years. During her university vacations, she has completed an internship at the World Health Organisation in Geneva; spent two months in Tanzania on a student-led global health project with Cambridge Development Initiative and completed a lab research placement in Cambridge.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: I hope to have a career with a major positive impact on the world, and I applied for the incubation program because I believe it can help me achieve this. In the short term, I believe that charity entrepreneurship has the potential to achieve significant direct impact and feel that I am relatively well-placed to test this, particularly following the incubation program. It also provides a great opportunity at the beginning of my career to test out my fit for various job roles, which will help me to maximise my impact in the long term.
BIO: Vicky is a recent Maths with Actuarial Science graduate from the University of Southampton. She became an effective altruist 3 years ago after reading Peter Singer’s ‘The Life You Can Save’. Around the same time she became an effective altruist, she also went vegan, so factory farming was the obvious cause area for her. So far, her efforts to make the world a better place have included signing the Giving What We Can Pledge, co-founding Southampton Effective Altruism Society, and interning for Charity Entrepreneurship by helping with their priority country research.
Why I chose to join the CE incubation program: I was excited by the unique opportunity to start a cost-effective, impact-driven charity. On top of this, starting a charity is a very salient career path for doing good, with the counterfactual being that the charity wouldn't exist without me. This is very appealing, as I have always wanted to do the most good with my career.
BIO: Clare has a PhD in geophysics from the University of Cambridge and has published several papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals. She has been involved with Effective Altruism in Cambridge since 2015 - first as Co-President of Giving What We Can: Cambridge, then by continuing to work with the committee on outreach and strategy. Her primary focus is on global poverty - in 2018 she was an intern at the charity Development Media International, where she assisted with research on the effects of radio and television campaigns on global health.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program:
Charity Entrepreneurship’s research suggests that there are many high-impact, neglected interventions within the cause areas of global poverty and animal welfare. I am excited at the prospect of building a charity based on this research with an emphasis on careful monitoring and evaluation. Having always worked in an academic setting, I am looking forward to learning a wide-range of new skills supported by the mentorship of the Charity Entrepreneurship team.
BIO: Before joining the Charity Entrepreneurship incubation program, Ishaan was doing research in the biological and social sciences with a focus on neuroscience and psychology.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: There are so many amazingly talented people in Effective Altruism who are ready to make a difference. It's time to build the organizational capacity to direct all this underutilized talent in high impact ways. Charity Entrepreneurship has a strong research team, led by individuals with a track record of success. I think there is good reason to believe that many of the suggested interventions are likely to be high-impact opportunities that warrant our funding and talent.
BIO: Haven recently graduated from Oberlin College, where he majored in Philosophy and Computer Science, and founded a local Effective Altruism chapter. He has also been involved in the animal movement for several years, during which time he was president of Oberlin Animal Rights. His research experience includes work in data science at the University of Southern California as well as modeling expected impact at Mercy for Animals. Outside of work and activism, Haven is quite fond of sipping drinks with friends and playing table tennis.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: I’m doing the Charity Entrepreneurship incubation program for two reasons. First, it seems like the most high-impact thing I can do for the world. If I succeed, I’ll have improved the lives of thousands, perhaps even millions, of individuals. If I fail, I’ll surely have learned a lot. Second, and less high-mindedly, building a new charity from the ground up sounds like a whole lot of fun.
BIO: Lauren’s background is in data analysis, research, and consultancy. Before the program Lauren primarily advised corporate companies on how to use data for strategic prioritization and direction, and for designing bespoke projects. She studied Philosophy and History in a combined Arts degree at Liverpool University. Although she studied Peter Singer back in high school, she only became aware of Effective Altruism in 2016, and it heavily resonated with her core beliefs. Since discovering EA, Lauren has spent the last two years volunteering with a variety of effective animal advocacy organisations such as The Humane League and The Good Food Institute alongside her corporate job.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: There is a lot left to do in the animal welfare space, and it is still relatively neglected in relation to its scale of suffering and the number of charities elsewhere. As Charity Entrepreneurship’s focus this year is largely on animal interventions, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to take my corporate experience and analytical skills and apply them to a charity working directly on my passion.
BIO: Caleb is a recent engineering graduate. He specialised in robotic systems and has worked in translational and theoretical neuroscience labs. Caleb has started three social enterprises, one of which won the Ford UK Innovation Challenge. In his free time, he enjoys losing badminton matches and coding things that sporadically work.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: While I worked on a sanitation project in Tanzania in my first year of university, I became increasingly unsure of how great an impact we were having. I was really excited to learn about Charity Entrepreneurship and their focus on measuring impact to ensure that we can help the most people in the most meaningful way. Charity Entrepreneurship’s incubation program offered me the chance to work with smart, inspiring, and ambitiously altruistic individuals, and the excitement of building organisations designed to have a high impact from the ground up.
BIO: Michael Plant is a final year PhD student in moral philosophy at the University of Oxford. As a result of his research, he decided to set up the Happier Lives Institute, a new EA organisation which looks for the most effective ways to make others happier. Michael is Peter Singer’s Research Assistant and previously founded Hippo, a happiness tracking app start-up.
Why I chose to join the CE incubation program: I wanted to start a high-impact organisation, but realised there are lots of things I know I don't know: strategic planning, budgeting, management, etc. On top of this, I expect there are many gaps in my knowledge that I don't even know I should be trying to fill. I joined the CE programme in order to get a crash course across the range of topics I will need to understand to build a successful organisation.
BIO: Michael is Program Manager at the Local Effective Altruism Network, a research and movement building organisation linking the 300+ effective altruism chapters around the world. He is Chairman and President of the Polish Foundation for Effective Altruism and a technologist with 6+ years of experience at Goldman Sachs, UBS, and others. His other interests include data storytelling and global health policy advocacy. He graduated in Philosophy.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: After several years of exploring the spaces surrounding effective altruism, I aim to put my skills to use where they stand a good chance of being needed the most. Charity Entrepreneurship narrowed down the possibilities and helps me navigate the remaining part.
BIO: Varsha has worked for more than 15 years in global poverty at global institutions including the World Bank and Open Society Foundation. Varsha has a Master’s degree in Development Management from London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Urban Planning from School of Planning and Architecture in India. In her spare time, Varsha likes to run and read non-fiction.
Why I chose to join the CE Incubation Program: Over the last year, I have been advising charities on strategy and program management. I was looking to start a global poverty charity when I came across EA last year. I had the pleasure of meeting Joey, the co-founder of Charity Entrepreneurship. The CE Incubation program provides the research, structure, and support to increase the odds of my charity being impactful.