Accomplishments Open Thread

by Gleb_T7th Jan 201636 comments

17

Open Thread
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Effective Altruists do so much great work, but much of it occurs in private. Yet if we publicize our good deeds, we can gain many benefits, for ourselves and for the world.

1) Support each other doing good deeds through providing warm fuzzies/emotional support/encouragement;

2) See if we can help each other out;

3) Inspire others with the opportunity to emulate some aspects of those good deeds for ourselves;

4) Provide an opportunity to amplify the signal about things you want others to know about.

 

As such, based on discussions on .impact, we decided to experiment with an “Accomplishments” thread on the EA Forum. This experiment may seem weird at first, but as Effective Altruists, we know the benefit of trying out unorthodox approaches for good reasons. We believe this experiment may be quite valuable as an EA capacity-building activity. If it works out, we will make it monthly, similar to the current Open thread.

 

This thread is meant for all of you as a completely safe space, with no social norms of "don't be a braggart" applying - just share and be safe in your sharing. So please share recent EA-themed accomplishments! Share as many or as few good deeds as you wish.

 

Please both share about your own good deeds and respond to what other people share with your authentic responses, ranging from upvoting to comments :-) Doing so will help this experiment succeed and motivate each other to greater accomplishments going forward.

 

You can also share on Facebook in the main EA group at this link if you prefer.


P.S. This is an experiment, and is very open to optimization - besides sharing about your good deeds, please suggest ways to improve any aspects of it. Please take a look at the .impact discussion prior to doing so in case some points were raised and addressed there already :-)

 

EDIT: Edited based on feedback from Kathy Forth and Linchuan Zhang

35 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 4:30 AM
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I'll embrace the awkwardness of doing this (and this is more than the past month):

1) I printed and distributed about 1050 EA Handbooks to about a dozen different countries.

2) I believe I am the but-for cause of about five new EAs, one of whom is a professional poker player with a significant social media following who has been donating a percentage of her major tournament wins.

3) I donated $195k this calendar year.

Wow. That's pretty damn impressive.

It really is. How inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you for embracing the awkwardness; this is inspiring!

How can I live up to that?! I give up!

Jk :D

Fully embracing the awkward: how can I be more like you?

Wow, that's incredibly fantastic!

I work at GiveWell as a 'regular' employee, and I think there's a good chance that if I didn't work there, we would not have made the commitment we have made to a cause area which I believe is exceptionally high impact. I think I had a substantial influence on the key decision makers in this area, and even if I'm only responsible for a small portion of that grant decision, it seems like a tremendous impact!

Glad to hear that your efforts contributed to that commitment! It's not easy to recognize the impact we make when we work as a collaborator in a larger project, and I think it's great that you recognize your own achievements there.

This is a great idea, Gleb!

1) I published a blog on the Life You Can Save about the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, a bill many EAs should love. I also coordinated with students in North Carolina to write several letters about the bill, which I'm delivering to Senator Burr's office. A staffer for Burr, who I spoke to over the phone, said he was considering the bill.

2) I became an adviser to Charity Entrepreneurship, helping Joey Savoie and their team pick which intervention they should focus on in India.

3) I used Charity Science gift cards to spread ideas about effective giving to my friends/family, gave a significant amount of money to a ton of great EA organizations, convinced my family to donate to the Humane League, and wrote a year-end giving piece that exposed people who aren't Effective Altruists to the kinds of ideas we think about a lot.

4) Finally, I made personal progress in finishing and submitting all of my grad school apps! :)

Scott, thanks for sharing about your accomplishments!

Just read your piece on the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, sounds like a really good bill. I shared it on my Facebook profile, and hope other EAs will as well.

Good luck with the grad school apps!

I guess I'll start.

1) I managed the Achievements Open Thread project, all the way from initiation to discussion to posting here as the first experiment, and am willing to take any flak that comes from doing it :-)

2) I provided advice to GiveDirectly on making a hire for their new VP of Marketing.

3) I collaborated with Jon Behar from The Life You Can Save to plan out the framework of a content marketing campaign promoting effective giving to a secular and skeptic audience.

4) I published a widely-read article in The Huffington Post promoting effective giving and especially GiveDirectly.

Those are the EA-themed accomplishments in the past month of which I am most proud.

I advised a wealthy donor with a complex tax situation on the most tax-efficient ways to give - it's worth looking out for opportunities to do so, as they can be incredibly easy ways to get a few extra % of their donation to effective charities! (Or they could even affect the whole donation, if tax-efficiency affects where they donate.)

Tom, do you know of any EAs who can regular provide this sort of service, rather than the kind of one-off advice you provided? Might be a good resource to have.

Not really, but I'm happy for high value questions which others can't answer to be referred to me. :)

Giving What We Can aims to do so - Alison Woodman being our go to person for it.

Michelle, great, thanks!

EA hasn't been a major personal focus for me, yet, and my achievements are more modest.

I was one of the volunteers at the EA Global Summit in Melbourne. The summit would have gone on fine without me, but the things I helped with seemed to make people happy (and I enjoyed it). Creating positive experiences around EA seems valuable.

I've been posting a bit about the Giving What We Can pledge on Facebook, including in a group that I run (Self-Improvement for Nerds). That has led to some positive comments, including a friend saying that they really liked what I posted and that they want to be more deliberate about their giving this year. So I'm likely to have nudged at least one person in a positive direction.

Bigger plans this year, but I'm encouraged that even small efforts can have an impact. I really appreciated being able to post quality content from the EA community (articles, blog posts and the video showing changes in malaria rates) – I think that made it much more credible.

Update: my friend signed the pledge, and watched Peter Singer's TED Talk on EA with their mother. It apparently has pushed them both to be more strategic about their altruism.

I was careful not to badger them about it at any point - they came to me about it. I would have liked to sign up more friends during the pledge drive, but I started late, and I think I want to continue working in this way, engaging without being pushy.

Congratulations! I think that's really awesome! :D

In 2015:

1) I met up with several EAs in person--once in Chicago and multiple times in NH.

2) I read Doing Good Better and The Life You Can Save and talked about them with friends and non-EAs online.

3) I donated 10% of my 2015 income to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Great to hear about your achievements! I also remember you started being more public about your giving, sharing about it online :-)

Since starting my one-man IT Consultancy I've been giving 10% of turnover (not profit) to charitable causes, but never really talked about it with others. In the summer I read Doing Good Better, since then I've spent time since then discussing with colleagues, friends, strangers; anyone who will listen.

I've spent the past few months trying to streamline the time I give to different charities, identifying the places I can make the most difference and giving my time to them. One example is 'Blood Biking' - I deliver emergency blood overnight by motorbike. I'm an advanced rider, therefore good at getting places quickly (and safely) and I live near to the blood storage, in some of these cases a big difference can be made by getting the blood to the relevant hospitals quickly.

I'm now preparing our annual giving and it looks like it'll be a bigger pot than before. There will be new charities on the list and we'll be giving more to one of the more neglected causes.

I'm working through some ideas for sharing the EA approach with groups and being more public about the causes the company support.

Sounds like you're doing great work!

Especially cool to see you being more public about your EA activism with others. I actually lead an EA meta-charity devoted to popularizing EA-themed effective giving broadly, and would be glad to chat about strategies for sharing the EA approach with groups. Giving Games can be one good approach, but there are many others. You can email me at gleb@intentionalinsights.org

Haven't done much, but here are a few highlights:

  • I gave a talk at Rutgers to an Introduction to Ethics course (50 students) about effective giving (sharing various moral arguments including ones from Peter Singer, Thomas Pogge, and Toby Ord).

  • Gave 10% of my income to AMF and towards the Giving What We Can operations fundraiser.

  • Continuously promoted EA stuff on Facebook through various pages (several GWWC & EA chapters) and personal posts.

I've seen you promoting EA stuff on FB and have been impressed with your social media activism. Nice to know what you're doing behind the scenes, too!

How did you arrange for the talk at Rutgers? This might be something useful for other EAs to get involved in doing, and your experience might give a good template for folks.

Thank you for the kind words. I think I got lucky with being invited to give a talk at Rutgers - the professor contacted me (I'm not sure exactly why he reached out to me, though he was directly aware of the GWWC:Rutgers chapter and I was a president for two years).

I started a local EA group in Seoul, South Korea with a good friend. We've had 2 meetups so far over a couple of months. We have a facebook group, a facebook page, and a meetup.com group.

In the future, we want to hold more meetups and start engaging the community, aim for quality discussions and if possible, make more people take the GWWC pledge.

Suggestion: Let people talk about any accomplishments, without special emphasis on the month level, or the name of the month.

Some of the moments when people most need to brag is when they need to recover a sense of identity with a self that is more than a month old, that did awesome stuff.

Example: Once upon a time 12 years ago I thought the most good I could do was fixing aging, so I found Aubrey, worked for them for a bit, and won a prize!

A thing I'm proud off is that a few days ago I gave an impromptu speech at Sproul Hall (where free speech started) at Berkeley, about technological improvement and EA, and several people came after to thank me for it.

Meta - Nice suggestion, makes sense. Thanks!

Cool, great to hear about the speech!

I weighed up the pros and cons for an EA PR agency.

What do you think?

Effective public relations (PR) agency?

Pros:

  • Avoids duplication of effort
  • Facilitates relationships between the community and aligned journalists and thought leaders
  • Consistent branding
  • ?

Cons:

  • Systemic risk
  • ?

I think that's a good start. There's a lot more to talk about. If you want to chat, email me at gleb@intentionalinsights.org and we'll figure something out.

I prefer public conversations for the reasons that Brian Tomasik does.

Can we continue to discuss other considerations here?

Alright, let's try.

For cons, I would say there's different methods of doing PR, and different EAs have different takes on it. See for example this discussion. So one agency might be problematic for this reason.

Another con is that there are already a number of EA orgs doing public outreach - EA Action, TLYCS, InIn, GWWC, etc. So they would need to coordinate, which would be pretty difficult.

Not sure what you meant by "Systemic Risk" for cons.

For pros, I'd add long-term campaigns due to centralization of resources.