Effective Altruism Outreach winter fundraiser


Read our 2016 plan


Watch Kerry's talk at EA Global

Effective Altruism Outreach is the team behind Effective Altruism Global, Effective Altruism Ventures, effectivealtruism.org, marketing Doing Good Better and The Most Good You Can Do, among other projects. We are part of the Centre for Effective Altruism.

Our goal is to enable the EA community to maximize its positive impact. We do this by creating the infrastructure the EA community needs to be a robust, thriving social movement while ensuring that we continue to develop the virtues we need to stay effective.

The basic argument for funding EAO is as follows:

  1. The EA community could be extraordinarily valuable in the future.

  2. There are actions that a sufficiently capable team could take now to make it more likely that EA becomes extraordinarily valuable in the future.

  3. The EAO team is sufficiently capable.

To keep this post short, I’ve included the best argument and counterargument for each of these claims in the comments below. If you believe all three of these claims, I think we may be an excellent donation target.

As of today we’ve raised $353,500 from Peter Singer, Jaan Tallinn, Investling, Daniel Dewey, Matt Wage, Jim Greenbaum, and Luke Ding. We are looking for $131,788 more to cover our minimum budget, $360,786 more to cover our moderate budget and $582,150 more to cover our growth budget.

You can donate here. If you have any questions feel free to email me at kerry@eaglobal.org.

This will be an extremely important year for Effective Altruism. The EA community is likely to continue to grow rapidly, and more work will be needed to ensure that this growth is positive for the long-term future of Effective Altruism. The next few years will determine whether EA is a passing fad like the Ice Bucket Challenge or Kony 2012, or whether EA becomes a global force for good. To be successful we will need to be strategic about how the community develops and we will need to be vigilant to ensure that effective altruism stays effective. The hope of the EAO team is that we can play a part in helping the EA community thrive. We plan to spend 2016 building the infrastructure we need to make sure that the tremendous amount that this community has accomplished so far is only the beginning.

I’m happy to answer your questions here although I prefer meeting people on Skype. Feel free to use my calendar app to find a time to chat. You can also email me at kerry@eaglobal.org.

Comments (16)

Comment author: jonathonsmith 17 December 2015 06:35:29PM 6 points [-]

A quick note on what encouraged me to donate to EAO.

I navigate robotic spacecraft to destinations in deep space at JPL. If you're trying to get somewhere like Jupiter or Saturn, the most important course corrections you can make are right after launch. We always have a crack team of analysts closely monitoring a spacecraft just after it leaves Earth, because the energy required to change the spacecraft's heading grows exponentially with time; point in the wrong direction too long and the mission is lost.

EA is moving really, really fast, and small adjustments to its development now are likely to have huge consequences down the road. With EAO, we have a team of talented people focused on nothing but making sure it's heading in the right direction. They are doing a lot of really impressive, concrete work (like book promotion, EAG, VIP outreach etc), but I think the greatest value in keeping them well funded is to have a vigilant eye watching for obstacles and helping navigate them at this very important, early stage of the movement.

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 17 December 2015 08:08:09PM 1 point [-]

Thanks so much for your support Jonathon!

Comment author: scottweathers 18 December 2015 04:53:46PM 3 points [-]

Done! Donated.

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 18 December 2015 05:16:06PM 0 points [-]

Thanks Scott!

Comment author: HaseebQ 17 December 2015 07:46:44PM *  3 points [-]

I decided to give $10,600, half of my donations this year to the EAO team. Here's why.

EAs love imagining doomsday scenarios, but they seldom imagine what might happen if EA loses steam or becomes fragmented. To my mind, that might be the biggest risk to accelerating the world's self-improvement.

Most other EA causes are in some way dependent on the cohesion and health of EA as a movement, and the inculcation of young people into this way of thinking. I want to see what happens if EA grows and matures out of being a social movement, and instead grows to become a staple of liberal culture.

After hearing Tyler and Kerry's talks at EA Global, where they laid out their plans to try to foster EA by trying to place a movement-builder in every major US city, I was convinced that they have the vision to both grow and nurture the EA movement. Despite an amorphous challenge, they have a top-notch team with very well-placed confidence.

I'm looking forward to see what they get done in 2016 and whether I will donate to them again. :)

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 17 December 2015 08:07:08PM 0 points [-]

Thanks so much for your support Haseeb!

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 11 December 2015 05:58:12PM *  3 points [-]

The EAO team is sufficiently capable

At the beginning of 2015, the EAO team was three people. Over the course of this year we:

  • Marketed Will’s book Doing Good Better and Peter Singer’s book The Most Good You Can Do. We sold more than 17,000 books in total and received coverage in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and more.
  • Launched effectivealtruism.org and quickly caused the site to be the number one search result for “effective altruism” in the US.
  • Conducted VIP outreach to some of the most influential people in the world including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, YCombinator, and 20 different major foundations.
  • Launched EA Ventures, attracted 22 major donors and partners including YCombinator, and the OS Fund and helped move over $100,000 to new effective organizations.
  • Created EA Global and ran conferences across three continents, increasing total attendance over last year’s EA Summit by 400%.

You can read more about our team at the bottom of the CEA team page.

If this claim were false, a plausible reason would be that the team lacks anyone with robust experience inside other social movements. It seems plausible that the EAO team may spend too much time figuring out what infrastructure to build and not enough time building. This might be avoided if the team had more experience in other social movements.

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 11 December 2015 05:54:36PM 2 points [-]

The EA community could be extraordinarily valuable in the future

The term ‘Effective Altruism’ has only existed for around four years and was popularized two and a half years ago. In a short time, the EA community has accomplished a tremendous amount of good. So far we’ve built a community of thousands, donated millions of dollars to effective charities saving thousands of lives, pledged billions of dollars in future support and have attracted some of the most influential people in the world.

If we project into the future this trend may continue or even accelerate. We may develop more insights into how to do good in the world and we may attract increasingly more influential people.

If this claim were false, a plausible reason would be that the beneficiaries of the movement are different from the people in the movement. Traditionally, social movements include people who directly benefit if the movement succeeds. This is true of the civil rights movement, feminism, the disability rights movement, Marxism and many others. The EA movement currently benefits the poorest people in the world, non-human animals and future people. It could be that a social movement that is not focused on benefiting those in the movement cannot succeed.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 11 December 2015 09:04:00PM 7 points [-]

Another reason this claim could be false (which seems more worrisome to me):

Most of the effective altruism movement's success to date has involved helping people already inspired to do good effectively to do it somewhat better, especially by providing a community for them. On Facebook, polls have shown most current EAs immediately latched onto the idea, sought it out on their own, and/or were already working to do the most good.

We have a fairly limited track record of convincing people to do EA things when they weren't otherwise going to do anything close. It's possible that EA just is a very hard thing to get many more people involved with beyond the low-hanging fruit we've already captured or would capture without additional resources put into outreach.

Comment author: AGB 13 December 2015 08:31:24PM 7 points [-]

I'm also pretty sceptical about our ability to expand beyond our 'core constituency' of people who were basically on board in advance. But it's worth noting that that constituency would be many times larger than what we currently have; looking at differences in participation between relatively similar countries (e.g. England versus France) or very similar universities (e.g. Cambridge versus Imperial) really highlights this.

Comment author: jamie_cassidy 14 December 2015 09:38:23PM 0 points [-]

While it's likely true that many people are currently beyond convincing, a movement has to start somewhere if it's ever going to become mainstream. This was true for the abolition of slavery early in the 19th century, women's suffrage in the early 20th century and to some extent gay marriage in the recent past. One reasonable explanation for this is that older people are much more difficult to convince than those who are still in their formative years. So while there will be many > 30 who will be drawn immediately to the movement, it is likely that broader success will be slower. It's also unlikely that it will simply happen, but with perseverance from those within the movement, outreach focused in the right areas, and the passage of time, Effect Altruism will hopefully some day become a social norm.

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 12 December 2015 04:08:08PM 1 point [-]

This seems plausible. Josh Jacobson has been saying a similar thing under the header of crossing the chasm. It could be that EA will only be able to attract a small group of early adopters and won't be able to grow to the scale we need to be highly effective.

Comment author: joshjacobson  (EA Profile) 14 December 2015 11:39:50PM 0 points [-]

To be clear, my point is more with regard for the need to spread our message in a way that allows for sustainable growth, v. in a way that most appeals to current EAs. It says nothing about the potential for growth for EA, which I do believe is profound, but rather about our ability to capture it (and long-term dangers of our current communications being non-optimized).

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 11 December 2015 05:56:52PM 1 point [-]

There are actions that a sufficiently capable team could take now to make it more likely that EA becomes extraordinarily valuable in the future.

There are a number of risks that a rapidly growing community has to avoid in order to be successful. At EA Global I touched on four: the Eternal September effect, coordination failure, ossification, and epistemic failure, although there are many others. The central tension is that the EA community has to grow to accomplish its goals, but growth may increase the probability of the movement getting off track.

Yet, I think we can avoid some of these risks by thoughtfully building community infrastructure that helps the community grow rapidly and safely. Examples of community infrastructure include EA Global, local EAGx conferences, effectivealtruism.org, the EA forum, EA Ventures, and the EA handbook. At full scale, the community infrastructure should allow us to seamlessly catch new people up to speed on our ideas, connect them to their local EA community, and help them contribute to the ongoing intellectual development of the community. More details on how we can make it more likely that EA becomes extraordinarily valuable in the future are available in our 2016 plan.

If this claim were false a plausible reason would be that the task at hand is intractable. It could be the case that once the initial conditions of a social movement are set, very little can be done to alter the trajectory. It could also be the case that one cannot make reasonable decisions about a social movement from inside the social movement. That is, the tribal aspects of being a part of a social movement may be especially good at making impartial reasoning impossible.

Comment author: AdamHoffman 30 December 2015 06:34:52AM 1 point [-]


I currently do most of my giving to orgs working directly for the global poor and for animals, but this year I included ~10% for movement building as well, mostly for EAO/CEA. Looking forward to an important year!

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 30 December 2015 07:14:16PM 1 point [-]

Thanks Adam. Really appreciate it!