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.
IMPACT ON YOUR TEAM
Our default when considering impact is to consider our individual output - our personal work hours, money moved, and impact achieved. However, a significant flow-through effect of founding a new organization is that it can enable others around you to have a higher impact than they would otherwise.
Many impact-focused individuals and effective altruists want an opportunity to work in an effectiveness-minded organization. It's easy to see why, as these jobs provide a strong opportunity to build skills while having a direct impact. They also provide a like-minded community, which is one of the biggest predictors of job satisfaction. However, these jobs are very limited and difficult to get, leading to frustration among job seekers. Founding new organizations in promising areas with an effectiveness mindset is a way to create more impactful positions that job seekers can apply for and use to build their own skills, career, and impact. Many effective altruists and charity workers who later went on to do highly impactful activities talk about their earlier jobs building their capacity for these roles. Jobs also have more benefits than just the direct skills built on site: they can create strong bonds that outlast specific positions but lead to impact down the road (e.g. some early contacts I met at EA jobs are still close friends. Their presence in my life greatly increases the scope of my impact and decreases my odds of value drift). A final benefit of creating job opportunities is that by increasing the variety of available jobs, you can increase the range and diversity of people who can find a high-impact way of contributing to the world, leading to a more diverse movement.
When school ends, your real education begins. Learning on the job is an essential way to build skills. When you found a new organization, you create not only jobs but also pathways to more quickly building up employee skills. Some skills are highly difficult to learn outside a job that encourages the application of them consistently. When a movement is missing skills (and every movement misses some skills) one of the ways to build capacity is to have training built into impactful organizations. Impact-focused organizations often realize a portion of their impact from building the capacity of people within their organization, even if they do not stay indefinitely. With strong staff training, several employees can take on far more ambitious projects than they would have been able to otherwise. This can be particularly important if your charity focus is on an area that is underutilized in your broader cause area (e.g. measurement and evaluation in a cause area that has historically been weak at this).
BUILDING A SCHELLING POINT
Often when a new charity is founded in an area, there is a boom of interest. Volunteers are keen to contribute, donors to support it, and other projects to link up. Having a central point of contact for a specific issue or concern, or a default place that someone with interest in an area can go to (a Schelling point) can make the difference between key members of a community connecting or not. Some nonprofit organizations state that their main benefit is providing this connection between different members of a community. For example, our organization, Charity Entrepreneurship, has become a Schelling point for people interested in founding new charities, the default place to contact and speak about related ideas. We have been able to connect people who otherwise would have had a challenging time connecting (e.g. two founders both interested in the same idea but waiting for the right cofounder). Many organizations in neglected areas can have the same effect.