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Frugality did not reduce my productivity but made my social life harder

In the early years of my EA journey, I tried to live on a small budget so I could donate more. I learned that I could be productive on a small budget.

There were times I worked on an old laptop. Some actions might have taken a few seconds longer, and I did not have much screen space. It was fine. What matters most about productivity is to do the right things, not to do the things slightly faster.

I exercise to keep my mind fresh. I don't go to the gym or take sports classes. I just do a bodyweight workout at home. Completely free. I also cook my own meals. I can only spend so many hours working behind a computer screen. Ordering food delivery or buying pre-prepared food does not save me time.

The biggest problem with frugality is socializing. To meet people, I need to travel and participate in the activities that they do. Sometimes it may be better to not be too frugal.

For example, my team works in the office one day per week. We have lunch in a restaurant - which is quite expensive where I live. When I joined the team, I brought my own food and ate it alone in the office. I felt unhappy about this. After a while, I decided to join and spend a lot of money on the "unnecessary luxury" of not socially excluding myself.

Thank you!

Summary of Giving What We Can Podcast episode with Joey Savoie "Making it easier for great charities to exist "

Copy of intro text

In this interview, we chat to Joey Savoie, CEO and co-founder of Charity Entrepreneurship, an incubator that helps launch high-impact nonprofits by connecting entrepreneurs with effective ideas, training, and funding. Joey provides an overview of Charity Entrepreneurship and the problems they're working to solve; he also shares his thoughts on the charity sector, the concept of efficacy, and the role altruism plays in his life. Since its founding in 2018, Charity Entrepreneurship has helped launch 18 impactful nonprofits, which have reached over 5 million humans and improved the lives of 1.2 million animals.


Charity Entrepreneurship got started because Joey and co-worker(s?) were too busy with their own charity but had a great idea for another charity. Other people were interested but no one could build the charity from the ground up by themselves. So in the end, Joey provided very minimal supervision while the founders got the charity started. This was Fortify Health and got GiveWell incubation grants.

Fortify Health was not the only one. Charity Entrepreneurship eliminates (sometimes trivial) bottlenecks that prevent potientially highly impactful charities from getting started.

There is a lot of funding in EA. But some areas are more funding constrained than others. For example, in the global health space, there is GiveWell and other big foundations, but they only consider organizations that absorb large amounts of funding. Smaller global health projects are more funding constrained. In mental health, there are funding gaps all over the place (The mental health donor circle may help solve this).

Small donors can have a comparative advantage. Small donors are flexible. They can jump in when an opportunity arises.Joey's message to the audience: Consider if you are a good fit to become a charity entrepreneur. Some people don't fit the stereotype of an entrepreneur, but turned out to be a great charity entrepreneur.

Lessons learned for Imma:

  • Consider making use of the comparative advantage of a small donor: if I see an opportunity, hesitate less to jump in than I have done so far. (I've let most opportunities pass).
  • Continue to communicate the message that even though there is a lot of money in EA, there are still funding constraints. Small donors can help fill them.
      - I am not sure if this applies also to X-risk cause areas.
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