Effective altruism is about helping others as much as you can.
While the mission is simple, the details aren’t. People have written entire bookshelves of content on ways to increase your impact, drawing from many different disciplines.
To help you learn the basics, we took some of the movement's best writing and made this handbook. Think of it as the textbook you’d get in your first college course. It explains the core ideas of EA, so that you can start applying them to your own life.
Note that you can also choose and request a free book about some of the most important ideas for effective altruism. You can see more at effectivealtruism.org.
Resources besides the Handbook
Short introduction to effective altruism
Podcast series with the key ideas
Here are ten curated episodes from The 80,000 Hours Podcast to quickly get up to speed.
The Introductory Program is a free seminar-based course that covers the same content as the Handbook. We adapted it from programs run by groups at Oxford, Berkeley, and other top universities. New courses start once a month.
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Ask a question
Maybe you don’t want to read a whole book, but you’ve got a more specific question. If so, you can ask it on the Forum!
You can also see this article for other ways to get a question answered.
Read the Handbook
The Handbook consists of “sequences” of posts on a single theme. They’ll make more sense if you read them in order, but feel free to skip around.
You can access all the content on this page (see the table of contents on the left). Or you can read from the beginning:
EA Handbook Table of Contents
Why is it so important to focus on "effective" altruism?
This sequence shows that despite our limited resources, we can accomplish incredible things when we think carefully before taking action.
How can we tell which actions do the most good?
This sequence covers ways to measure your impact and find especially promising issues to work on.
Who should we care about helping?
This sequence examines the moral progress we've made as a species, and argues that we can do a lot of good by focusing on groups whose welfare is still neglected.
How should we think about the long-term impact of our actions?
This sequence makes the case that some of the most important work we can do involves trying to improve the long-term future of civilization.
What can we do to prevent the worst possible outcome for humanity?
This sequence explores the possible end of human civilization, and how we can work to safeguard the future of our species.
How should we prepare for technology that could reshape our existence?
This sequence looks at two ways in which future technology could pose an existential threat to humanity, and how we can address those threats.
What are some potential problems with effective altruism, and how should we respond?
This sequence covers prominent critiques of EA, as well as responses and counterarguments from people within the movement.
Once we’ve learned the basics, how can we take action?
This sequence suggests ways to get more deeply involved in effective altruism — with your career, your donations, or your free time.
Notes on the Handbook
Some of the articles in the Handbook were written a while ago, so certain elements might be out of date (e.g. statistics). If you see anything that seems especially off, feel free to let us know.
Some articles are listed as coming from "EA Global" or "EA Handbook" rather than a named author. We use the former to collect transcripts of talks from an EA Global conference, and the latter for content written by someone without a Forum account.
Suggestions and feedback
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This was updated in May 2022. You can see the previous version here.