Written by Jørgen Ljønes, managing director of Gi Effektivt and co-founder of  the Norwegian effective altruism movement. 

Summary

Eirik Mofoss was recently named “Young leader of the year” by the largest business newspaper in Norway. He is the co-founder of the Norwegian effective altruism movement and—as a member of Giving What We Can—donates 20 percent of his income to organisations that, through documented effectiveness, make a positive difference in the world. The award provided lots of valuable attention and traffic to EA Norway and Gi Effektivt, our donation plattform. We wanted to share and celebrate this, not only as a recognition of Eirik, but also for  all the Norwegian EAs who has made this possible.

Background

Dagens Næringsliv (Norwegian for "Today's Business"), commonly known as DN, is the third-largest daily newspaper in Norway. Every year, DN nominates 30 people under the age of 30 who, through good ideas, entrepreneurial or leadership skills, represent guiding figures for others, and want to make the world more sustainable. First, DN’s readership nominates a selection of people, then an independent jury picks the final 30, based on the UN's 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The jury, together with readers, then selects a single winner, among people whose accomplishments have yielded some kind of measurable impact in the realm of sustainable development.

The nomination of Eirik as a candidate for the award

Eirik Mofoss co-founded the first Norwegian branch of the Effective Altruism movement at NTNU in 2014, and has remained true to his ideals ever since. Eirik has committed to donating 20 percent of his income for the rest of his life, and has—through his nomination—imparted his mode of working and living on a readership of over 150 000 people. He has also widely publicised his altruistic ideals through his earlier work, as adviser to both the Conservative Party in Parliament, as well as adviser to Norad (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation). According to the jury: 

Eirik Mofoss examines our fundamental assumptions about what aid currently is, and our vision for what it could be; how one can—and should—contribute, as a private citizen.

DN’s first interview with Eirik Mofoss quickly became their most read “30 under 30”-interview ever, and the newspaper’s most read piece in 2022.

Eirik Mofoss is 29 years old, born in Tromsø, in the north of Norway, and has a master's degree in industrial economics and technology management from NTNU. Mofoss has previously worked as a political and financial adviser for the Conservative Party of Norway, and as a business development manager for Visma. Almost ten years ago, he became a member of Giving What We Can, and committed to donating 20 percent of his income for the rest of his life. Mofoss co-founded the first effective altruism group in Norway in 2014 while studying at NTNU, and has later co-founded the foundation Gi Effektivt that fundraises for charities recommended by GiveWell.

The jury’s reasoning for naming Eirik "Young leader of the year"

Eirik Mofoss shows us that our direct actions still yield impactful results during a time when many feel increasingly powerless. Mofoss builds bridges, and has skillfully integrated his personal and working lives. He seeks, through his activism and modes of thinking, to elevate the discourse around sustainability—away from individualistic critiques, and toward systemic ones.

Mofoss’ generation has been raised in the global labour aristocracy. Despite this, some of them have recognized the extent to which their privileges and positions can be used for good. Mofoss challenges how we as individuals can contribute, and works to deflate the myth that impoverished people spend economic transfers inefficiently. Furthermore, his rhetoric serves as an antidote to political division, contributing to the widening conception that the climate crisis, endemic poverty, and public health are, in fact, bipartisan political challenges.

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11 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 6:32 AM

This is so amazing to read! I first met Eirik in 2015 when he was studying abroad in Munich—he also helped get EA Munich off the ground together with me and others! He continues to be one of the nicest and kindest people I know, and his enthusiasm is contagious. Very well deserved!

Congratulations!

I hope this isn't inappropriate given the celebratory context, but I want to push back against the idea that the EA movement, or any of its local versions, has a "founder". Just as I think it is incorrect to call Will MacAskill (or anyone else) the "founder of the EA movement", I think it is incorrect to call Eirik Mofoss the "founder of the Norwegian EA movement".  Our movement may have leaders, but it has no founders.

Interesting, I have the exact opposite intuition! I think calling Eirik a co-founder of EA in Norway is simply a descriptive factually correct statement. He was one of two people that started the first EA group in Norway that subsequently grew into the community it is today.

On the other hand, I don't like to think that the movement has any leaders. It's a community of widely varying views and approaches, united by common values. Actually, EA Norway, which is  the closest you'll find to a formal organisation for EA in Norway, is a democratic membership organisation where the members stake out the priorities and goals of the org every year. The board is elected by the members with a given mandate, and the board are ultimately accountable to the members. I believe there were roughly 400 members last time I checked.

This might be unusual by international EA standards, I've never really reflected on it! It is however normal in scandinavian countries, many organisations and all political parties are run in a similar manner.

I think it's perfectly fine to call someone the founder of EA Norway—an organization—but I continue to believe it is inappropriate to call them the founder "of the Norwegian EA movement". I don't share your intuition that starting the first EA group in a region makes you the founder of the EA movement in that region. For example, I started the first LW group in the Spanish-speaking world but it would be bizarre to call me the "founder of the Spanish-speaking rationalist movement".  Expressions that seem more appropriate to me to convey what I take "founder" to be trying to communicate are "a key figure in the Norwegian EA movement" and "an early figure in the Norwegian EA movement". Or you could just say "started the first Norwegian EA chapter" or "co-founded EA Norway".

I'm happy to continue this discussion, but I also feel uneasy about diverting attention away from Eirik's impressive accomplishment. The karma system and filtering algorithms have made my original comment more visible than I intended it to be.

The examples you provided are fine alternatives :+1:

It just seems to me that EA is not the sort of thing that can be "founded" by a couple of people. It's like claiming that someone "founded" science or the enlightenment. By extension, it strikes me as inappropriate to credit someone as the "founder" of a local branch of EA, just as it would be inappropriate to credit someone for "founding" the French scientific movement or the German enlightenment movement.

Absolutely well-deserved, well done Eirik and the rest of the Norwegian community.

This is wonderful to hear! Every time I've talked with the Norwegian EA community, there has been a strong sense of integrity, ethics, and a will to do good along with tangible results. I'm consistently impressed and it's wonderful to see that effort get rewarded and for that impact to get a public voice. 

Congratulations!

Congrats Eirik!

Congratulations Eirik!