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Compiled by CEA’s Community Health team

2024 is the biggest year for elections in history(!), and while many of these elections have passed, some important elections are upcoming, including the UK and US elections, providing a potentially large opportunity to have an impact through political change. 

Countries with elections in 2024

This post is intended 

  1. To make it easier for EA group organisers and organisation staff to adhere to the laws in relevant countries
  2. And more generally, to help the community be able to take high impact actions now and in the future by reducing risks of polarisation of EA and the cause areas we care about. 

Charities and organisations associated with/funded by charities have constraints on what political activities they can do. See “More about legal risks.”

Note: This post is not legal advice. Our team is employed by US and UK charities (Effective Ventures US and UK). So, we have a little familiarity with the legal situations for groups/organisations that are based in the US or UK (many EA organisations), and groups/organisations that are funded by charities in the US or UK (even more EA groups and organisations). We have very little knowledge about the legal situation relating to other countries. 

It could be useful for groups/orgs in any country (including US and UK) to get independent legal advice.

Risks around polarisation and epistemics

These risks include

  • EA becoming more associated with specific parties or parts of the political spectrum, in a way that makes EAs less able to collaborate with others
  • Issues EA works on about becoming polarised / associated with a specific party 
  • EA falling into lower standards of reasoning, honesty, etc through feeling a need to compete in political arenas where good epistemics are not valued as highly
  • Creating suspicion about whether EAs are primarily motivated by seeking power rather than doing the most good.

Of course, the upside of doing political work could be extremely high. So our recommendation isn’t for EAs to stop doing political work, but to be very careful to think through risks when choosing your actions.  

Some related ideas about the risks of polarisation and political advocacy:

  1. Climate change policy and politics in the US 
  2. Lesson 7: Even among EAs, politics might somewhat degrade our typical epistemics and rigor 
  3. To Oppose Polarization, Tug Sideways
  4. Politics on the EA Forum 


If your group/organisation is a charity or is funded by a charity

In many (or maybe all?) places, charities or organisations funded by charities are NOT allowed to engage in political campaigning. 


  • US 
    • U.S. 501(c)(3) public charities are prohibited from “intervening in political campaigns” (more detail). This includes organisations that are funded by US 501 (c)(3) charities (including Open Philanthropy’s charitable arm, and Effective Ventures (which hosts EA Funds and CEA)). This includes
      • financial support for a campaign, including reimbursing costs for people to engage in volunteer activities
      • endorsing or disapproving of a candidate, referring to a candidate’s characteristics or qualifications for office — in writing, speaking, mentions on the website, podcasts, etc. Language that could appear partisan like stating “holding elected officials accountable" could also imply disapproval.
      • taking action to help or hurt the chances of a candidate. This can be problematic even if you or your charity didn’t intend to help or hurt the candidate. 
      • staff taking political action that’s seen as representing the organisation they work for
        • E.g. attending rallies or door knocking as a representative of a charity. 
      • letting campaigns use office space or other nonprofit resources for their work.
    • But they can generally promote action on particular issues, or promote types of solutions to problems (e.g. promotion of better welfare practices for hens out of cages or advocating for decision makers to take AI risk seriously).
    • In some cases, charities can do a limited amount of advocacy for specific policy changes (such as an animal-focused charity advocating for a ballot measure to regulate how animals are treated).[1]
  • UK
    • Gov.UK guidance
    • Charities can campaign for the government to introduce certain policies, if this supports the charity’s purpose.
    • UK charities can not engage in any party political activity such as donating resources or asking supporters to vote for or against a party or candidate. 
    • There are regulations around spending on any activities which ‘can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure electoral success at any relevant election’ for or against any political parties or candidates. It is not necessary to name a party or type of candidate in the campaign materials, but if a reasonable person might think you are calling for the public to vote for or against a party or candidate it could count. 
    • More information
  • Basic information on some other countries

Violations of these rules could result in the charity status being revoked from an organisation, which would be very costly. 

If your organisation is not a registered charity, and is not funded by registered charity

Even if the above rules do not formally apply to your org, it could still be good to consider the above suggestions to reduce the chances that 

  • your group or EA as a whole is seen as particularly political or partisan by others
  • that you don’t unknowingly reduce your ability to get funding from grantmaking charities in the future.

Individuals: If you’re not a citizen or permanent resident

Many countries also have laws disallowing people who are not citizens or permanent residents from participating in some (or all) ways in a campaign.


If you’re interested in getting involved in campaigns in a place where you can’t vote, check out the relevant laws. It is probably worth being extremely cautious if you’re hoping to get residency, work permits, or visitor visas for the country you’re hoping to campaign in. 

Involvement as a private citizen when you are affiliated with an EA org

EA group organisers and EA org staff can still campaign for, or donate to, political campaigns in their own country as a private citizen. But sometimes it can be blurry when you are and when you aren’t acting as a private citizen. If you are campaigning using platforms where you’re known by your role in an EA org or EA group, you should be careful to be clear that any campaigning is being done as a private citizen, and unassociated with your role. 

However, if you are campaigning using a platform/to an audience that you have access to as a result of your role, just stating that you are acting as a private citizen may not be enough. E.g. a group organiser sharing a political announcement in a group meeting or an EA org staff member using the office after hours for political meetings.

Some guidelines we’ve heard law firms recommend to U.S. charities: 

  1. Avoid using methods of promotion where you are primarily known by your role in the charity or funded organisation (e.g. Slacks where you represent the charity/funded org, using your org email address, sending info on org newsletters). In any public or media context–including charity publications and interactions with the public–clearly and unambiguously state that your actions and statements are yours as an individual and not those of the org.
  2. Don’t make any campaign announcements at events run by the charity.
  3. Don’t use any contact lists you have access to due to your involvement in the charity.
  4. If you want to post/comment on the Forum or another publicly visible space doing some kind of political advocacy on behalf of yourself, you should be explicit that this is a personal comment.


Advice for EA group organisers


Although involvement in politics and policy is a really promising way of doing good for the world, there are some legal, reputational and epistemic challenges that are worth considering when groups want to get involved in political activities.

Political campaigning might negatively affect the ability of EA and individual EAs to have impact in the causes you are particularly interested in. Things to consider:

  • Polarisation of issues: There are significant risks if an issue becomes associated with a political party. A group might successfully campaign for a political party to take an issue seriously, but if the issue becomes associated with that party, and a different party is elected in the future, the work to tackle the issue could get undone. Sometimes this is hard to prevent because there are already political parties that have been more or less likely to support a cause, but it is worth factoring this in as a potential cost.
  • Making EA more partisan: There are people in our community across a wide political spectrum (although the distribution is not uniform). If EA becomes more connected with one political party, this is likely to reduce our ability to connect with other people and groups in the future. Again, some of this might be inevitable, but it is a cost worth considering.
  • Epistemic risks: a close association between EA and political parties/groups may alter the epistemics of our community. I’d like to think our community is less likely than most communities to fall into the soldier mindset, but we’re not immune, and politics is one of the areas where humans seem to be particularly susceptible to poor epistemics. 
  • Inexperience: a lot of the EA community is inexperienced in political spaces. Going into this space as a newcomer might lead to making unforced errors, and could get you and the ideas you are campaigning for branded as naive.


  • Ensure that discussions on having an impact through politics as part of your EA group are clearly nonpartisan, e.g. you could hold a discussion about different political parties' policies or track records relating to key cause areas, but the organisers or discussion facilitators should be careful not to imply that “EA” or the EA group as a whole is supporting a particular candidate or party.
  • If you are considering inviting speakers from political parties about something other than an election, like a policy issue of interest to EAs, or to inform your group about careers in politics, invite speakers from multiple political parties.
  • Take care to separate your political and EA activities if you are a funded group organiser. If you decide to do political campaigning work in your free time, it won’t necessarily appear separate to others. See the above section on separating out your individual work.
  • Don’t hold political meetings in EA group spaces such as an EA office, or in the same venue after EA events.
  • Don’t advertise events as an “EA event” or affiliated with your EA group if they are primarily about a particular political candidate or party.

Talking to journalists about a political campaign

If you represent EA or an EA group in some way, and get asked for an interview, or asked to comment, or would like to contact a journalist about your / your group’s / EA’s relationship with any candidates or parties you are welcome to ask for advice from Emma Richter from CEA’s Communications Team (emma.richter@centreforeffectivealtruism.org). 

She might be able to help with assessing the journalist/outlet, giving you background information, and advising on whether and how it would be good to answer. We can also provide media training and liaise with a communications firm we work with for more support and advice. 

Using the EA Forum 

The EA Forum can be used to discuss political campaigns, parties or candidates:

Our policy about politics is outlined in this post. In brief: 

The following types of posts will be in the “Personal Blog” category (meaning that they will not appear on Frontpage for users who haven't modified the default settings, but will appear in “All Posts,” in the author’s profile, and on any relevant tag pages):

  • Posts advocating for or against a specific political candidate or group of candidates (e.g. “Why effective altruists should vote for candidate Y”)
    • This policy also applies to posts which neutrally solicit opinions on a particular candidate, since those opinions are generally going to be advocacy for or against the candidate, which risks leading to the same issues.
  • Posts discussing policy issues with only tenuous connection to the main EA cause areas (e.g. “What John Smith’s position on gun rights means for EA voters”)

Some political content will continue to receive “Frontpage” categorization:

  • Posts discussing general systems for evaluating any political candidate (e.g. “Candidate Scoring System, Third Release”)
  • Posts discussing policy issues that are directly connected to core EA cause areas (e.g. this post on a campaign to boost Canadian development assistance)


  1. ^

    Note, though, sometimes candidates are closely identified with a prominent issue or stance on an issue so taking a public position on an issue that aligns with one candidate (without naming the candidate) could still potentially be seen as taking political action. Please also consider the potential that these actions promoting specific pieces of legislation may qualify as “lobbying.” See IRS guidance on lobbying. 





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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

Thanks for this valuable reminder!

btw, the link on "more about legal risks" at the top goes to the wrong place.

Executive summary: EA group organizers and organization staff should be cautious when interacting with political campaigns to avoid legal risks and risks of polarization, while still considering the potentially high impact of political work.

Key points:

  1. Charities and organizations funded by charities face legal constraints on political activities, which vary by country. Violating these rules could lead to loss of charity status.
  2. Risks of political engagement include EA becoming associated with specific parties, issues becoming polarized, degradation of EA epistemics and reasoning standards, and creating suspicion about EA motives.
  3. EA group organizers and org staff can campaign as private citizens, but should clearly separate this from their EA roles and avoid using EA resources or platforms.
  4. EA groups should keep political discussions nonpartisan, invite speakers from multiple parties, and avoid advertising events as EA-affiliated if primarily about a candidate or party.
  5. The EA Forum allows some political content, with restrictions based on relevance to EA cause areas and level of candidate advocacy.



This comment was auto-generated by the EA Forum Team. Feel free to point out issues with this summary by replying to the comment, and contact us if you have feedback.

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