List of possible EA meta-charities and projects

bysaulius6mo9th Jan 201917 comments

56


Introduction

There are many possible projects and organisations that could enable others to do more good. Only a few of them exist in reality at the moment. It’s easy to think that some ideas are bad just because current organisations haven’t implemented them. But it could be that many good ideas are not implemented simply due to a lack of capacity, or because the right person hasn't heard the right idea. That said, we should also be aware of the unilateralist curse and be careful not to implement ideas that many people think could be harmful.

To help people decide which EA meta-charities to found, we created a list of all the possible options we could think of. The list is a result of 5 people (David Nash, Jamie Harris, Nuzhat Jabinh, Samuel Hilton, and Saulius Šimčikas) brainstorming for a couple of hours in an event organised by Samuel Hilton. We later found out that a similar list was created during EA Summit. I merged the ideas for meta-charities from the EA Summit’s list to our list below. Note that the EA Summit’s list also contains ideas for research and non-meta-charities that were not merged into the list below. You can see our list without the ideas from EA Summit here.

Similar lists of ideas for EA charities and projects include:

Please comment about other ideas for meta-charities and projects that you have, and tell which ideas you are most excited about.

Careers

80,000 Hours is the only EA organisation (that I know of) that is focusing on careers. However, they are a small team and they are not doing everything that could be done in this vast space.

  • An organisation solely focused on running career workshops
  • One on one career consulting
  • Provide recruitment support for high-impact projects
    "One constant bottleneck for high-impact projects is recruiting excellent people. Plus, each high-impact project must discover on its own how to source promising candidates for jobs resulting in duplication of effort. A project that discovered the tools of the best recruiters and helped high-impact projects recruit talented people might be especially valuable." (by Kerry Vaughan)
  • Research on what careers to go into:
    • Best careers if you are not focused on the far future
    • Best careers for those who are finishing a PhD
    • How to decide what to study
    • Career decisions for people part way through careers –
      For example, comparing switching costs and benefits like loss of career capital, leveraging your existing skills, etc.
  • Research on how to do good once you are working in:
    • Policy
      HIPE does it in UK but it could be done in other countries
    • Politics
    • Finance
    • Academia
    • Military
    • Etc
  • Effective thesis, but higher up the academic chain
  • Convince college career counsellors to distribute 80,000 Hours materials to interested students (by EA Summit Team)
  • An org that specialises in helping people with careers in one cause area (e.g. global health/poverty)
  • A cause prioritisation research camp (similar to AI safety camp)
  • Recruit and train AI-safety researchers
    "One bottleneck on the work done by AI-safety groups like MIRI is the difficulty of finding mathematicians and computer scientists suited to the task. Projects that increased the number of researchers available for this work would therefore amplify the work done across the entire field.” (by Kerry Vaughan)
    • Run an existential risk workshop
      For example, MIRIx workshops. (by Evan Gaensbauer)
    • Create AI Safety course (or other EA education course) study groups
      "An EA group leader/organize, either with a local group or online, could lead a study group for, for example, the 'Road to AI Safety Excellence' online course put out by EA Nederlands: http://aisafety.camp/study-group/." (by Evan Gaensbauer)

Helping charities/organisations

  • Services for charities
    • (Free) service that helps make charities more transparent
      e.g. software that makes it easy for charities to show all the incoming donations, spending, financial information etc. Some inspiration can be taken from AMF website. This would make it easier for people to trust and evaluate charities.
    • Charity auditor that assess effectiveness as part of the process
    • System for ‘industry self-regulation’ of the charity sector
  • EA organisation auditor
    An independent organisation that provides an audit service to EA orgs to offer an external evaluation on how effective they are and other things. Alternatively, EA self-regulator.
  • Charity incubator
    Charity Entrepreneurship is great but they only tackle one cause area every year. If we want many new organisations to be created in many cause areas (e.g. meta, far future, mental health, climate change, biosecurity, nuclear security, etc.), we may want to have another similar organisation.
  • EA odd job team
  • Diversity: like Encompass but for EA
    Encompass promotes diversity among animal rights organisations, could have something similar in EA.
  • Consulting to:
    • Foundations
      "While most donations come from individuals, the largest concentration of donations comes from large foundations. An organization that provides advisory services to foundations, especially to foundations that are being created might be especially high impact." (by Kerry Vaughan)
    • Companies
      to improve their corporate social responsibility programmes or volunteering
    • Charities and other organisations that want to do good directly
      • How to become more transparent
      • How to self-evaluate effectiveness
      • How to demonstrate the effectiveness and raise funds from the EA community
  • Create an EA projects advice group
    "Create a Facebook group or google email list where people do brief writeups of new EA projects they plan to work on and/or EA related life or career plans and others give feedback on how those project plans could be improved" (by Spencer Greenberg)
  • A vetting system for project ideas
    A system where someone could submit an idea out there and EAs (eventually including those who are very involved in EA) add their thoughts and considerations. It would help to avoid the unilateralist curse and could help promising projects with funding by showing potential funders that well-known EAs are excited about the project. Facebook pages have the capacity for brainstorming and discussion, but may be inefficient, and may not always have the people we most want weighing in on the discussions (by Catherine Low).

Coordination

  • Coordination for EA researchers
    Many organisations want many things to be researched and many people would like to try out EA research to see if that’s a career option for them. What is more, it's difficult to know who is working on what at any given time, which makes it likely for two researchers to work on the same topic without knowing about each other. I wrote about problems and possible solutions in more detail here.
  • Volunteer coordination
    • Pro bono time coordination
    • Resource provision
    • Mentoring
  • EA orgs coordinator
    • Like Institute of Directors but for EA
      offering support and resource sharing and training and ensuring EA views are taken into account when the government is reviewing policy or seeking opinions.
  • Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations (click the link to see ideas about how to do it)
  • Funding redistributors within specific fields
    Like EA grants or EA funds but more specific
  • More post-impact funding provision (e.g. certificates of impact)
  • EA expertise board
    e.g. if you would need to speak to a climate change expert who is also an EA, you could find it there
  • Coordination of specific fields where networking is useful
    Currently, it’s done on Facebook but it’s not optimal

Software platforms

  • Build a platform to match projects with people who can do them
    (by Florent Berthet as part of Tech Initiatives)
  • Build untapt.com (connects qualified applicants to companies building great teams and great products) for nonprofits
    (by Michal Trzesimiech as part of Tech Initiatives)
  • Make an X-risks mapping platform
    "To list the current existential risk organisations (and their needs), probability estimates for each risk, papers and discussions" (by Florent Berthet as part of Tech Initiatives)
  • Build a platform or service to match EA mentors and mentees for coaching/advice via video calls
    "Focus on mental health / productivity for people already familiar with EA and provide career / donation advice for newcomers. Basically scale up http://effectivealtruismcoaching.com/ based on software that allows mentors/coaches to allocate timeslots and let mentees book timeslots. <calendly.com> + jitsi + X." (by Jan Kulveit as part of Tech Initiatives)
  • Consolidate EA wiki content
    "Negotiate with the various EA wikis to consolidate their content onto one site. Make sure you involve top researchers (e.g. at Openphil, 80k, FHI)." (by Max Dalton)
  • Peer to peer funding platform
  • EA decision making tools and apps
    Because nuanced EA can look difficult (start with a deep understanding of ethics, etc…). It can also look dictatorial (AI is the true answer, etc... ). E.g. How to decide on causes

Spreading EA ideas

  • Organisation/person solely focused on giving introductory EA talks
  • EA outreach to
    • Different demographics
      • Muslims
      • Seniors / Retirees
      • Other cultures / countries
    • Niche communities
      "Raising for Effective Giving has had success targeting a particular niche market (poker players) who are likely to be receptive to arguments for effective giving. There may be promising opportunities to develop similar projects targeting niche groups." (by Kerry Vaughan)
      • Machine learning students
      • Scientists in relevant fields
      • Crypto community
      • Etc.
    • Corporate giving officers
      "In the US 72% of giving ($241B) comes from individuals, yet since the average household only donates around $3,000, outreach on a household-by-household basis may not be as cost effective as other options. It may be possible to circumvent this problem by working with corporate social responsibility officers at large corporations to encourage them to advocate for effective charities at their companies. This would provide a way to influence many donors without needing to engage in outreach to each individual." (by Kerry Vaughan)
  • An organisation that sells/outreaches cause prioritisation
  • Effective inheritance
    There are people looking to start this. There is also a non-EA organisation that connects heirs.
  • PR agency for EA
  • Helping with EA workplace activism (assisting people to organise events, etc.)

Helping EAs

  • Making EA content more accessible
    • Central resource directory of EA materials
      Many important ideas are in blog posts spread around in multiple websites, with little categorisation. It’s not easy to find everything related to certain topic, especially for newcomers. A frequently updated resource directory could help to solve the problem. Attempts to organise ideas include EA Concepts and EA hub's resources for movement builders, www.priority.wiki. Similar projects could be done for more topics and eventually ,there could be a directory of directories.
    • Summarising of online discussions
      Many good points are made in Facebook and forum comments but are not read by most EAs and are not presented in an accessible way.
    • EA insider newsletter with more advanced materials
      It could include a possibility to filter what kind of topics do you want to be included in the emails you receive. Alternatively, there could be cause-specific EA mailing lists. For example, B.C.T.S mailing list summarizes news in Effective Animal Advocacy.
    • Making rationality more accessible
      Lots of rationality techniques and ideas are not written up in an easily understandable and concise manner. There should be something much shorter and more practical than Rationality: From AI to Zombies that newcomers could be linked to.
  • More EA hotels
    Although before founding new hotels, we may want to fund the existing one.
  • Organisation to support people in the EA community with mental health
    Many EAs have reported they would want to talk to a bespoke EA therapist rather than a standard therapist
  • More EA co-working and community hubs like REACH.
  • Tutors for EA students
  • Professional training for EA
    Guide people towards understanding impact and supports people interested in social enterprise, charity entrepreneurship or even earning to give effectively. (Maybe like Year Here but for EAs)
  • Build better long-term commitment-maintenance and donation tracking tools for following up with people who have taken the GWWC Pledge
    "I worry that a lot of potential may be lost when people move from the cities in which they first engaged with EA." (by Huw Thomas)
  • Develop further local infrastructure in most active 'EA cities'
    For example, Oxford and SF for supporting meeting, collaborating, co-working, etc. of EAs (by Huw Thomas)

Policy

  • HIPE global
    Global organisation to make civil servants more effective
  • Evaluation of policy interventions
  • EA lobby group(s)
  • EA activism coordination
    coordinate individual EAs to engage in effective activism actions
  • Lobby group for better policy making processes
    how to improve institutional decision making or global coordination in policy
    • A national or international lobbying organisation that is external to the government
    • Networks internal to governments who try to promote this by using their own expertise and careers.
    • An organization that researches this topic

Research

  • Charity evaluation
    • Of specific cause-areas (e.g. environment, preventing extreme human suffering, institutional decision making, etc)
    • Of global development, but in more depth
      With more focus on long term and follow-through effects and systemic change and less focus on RCTs. Possibly also with more consulting with people whom we are trying to help.
    • Of Meta-charities
    • Of AI safety research organisations
  • Cause prioritization research
    • For non-utilitarian or different groups
      what conclusions should people with different ethics or different religious/cultural backgrounds to reach?
    • With different things in mind: influence / political power / visibility
      mostly we have imagined you have money to give. If you are spending political influence (or something else), you might think other causes are more important.
    • To find new cause areas or cause X
    • How to explain / sell cause prioritization
  • EA community building research
  • GiveWell for impact investing (by William MacAskill)
  • EA academic journal
  • Writer who writes up articles for people embedded in EA
    Many EA organisation leaders have lots of very good ideas and in some cases lists of articles they would write if they have the time. Maybe a person could interview collate and write-up.
  • Run an EA-style research online course
    "Create an online course for doing EA-style research”. (by Max Dalton) Max also wrote that he’d be happy to mentor a sufficiently good person to do this
  • Research and revolutionise important fields
    For any of the below, you could do research on how to have an impact in that area, engage with people in the area and work out what levers to push to change how people in the area do good.
    • Activism
    • Grantmaking
    • Academia
    • Journalism
    • Etc.