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(Any changes I made to the post since I originally published it are highlighted in italics. Last updated: 28th of April. Scroll down to the funding breakdown to read an explanation as to why the minimum funding goal has been lowered.)


A Happier World (AHW) started as a YouTube channel in 2020 to promote ideas related to effective altruism. The project seeks funding to continue making videos as its current grant has expired. I believe there's a large potential audience for EA-related content on YouTube and I see AHW as a way to tap into that audience. 

The requested minimum funding ($10k) would cover my salary for 2 months, the funding goal ($55k) 12 months. I would also allocate some money to freelancers in order to increase the output of AHW. Additional funding would be used to hire more people.

You can support A Happier World in reaching its funding goals through Manifund or you contact me personally through a message on the EA forum for other ways to sponsor the project.

What is A Happier World?

A Happier World (AHW) started as a YouTube channel in 2020 to promote ideas related to effective altruism. The project has expanded from YouTube to TikTok and Instagram reels, increasing its reach. AHW explores exciting ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. The videos tackle the world's most pressing problems and offer effective ways we can solve them. Topics covered include global health, poverty, animal welfare, artificial intelligence, pandemics, climate change, and even moral philosophy. The target audience is 16-35 year olds who are interested in science and improving the lives of others. Currently, I write, host, film and edit the videos.

A grant will enable me to continue making complex global issues comprehensible by engaging a broader audience, thereby contributing to the growth and influence of effective altruism concepts in mainstream discourse. 

Who is behind AHW?

Hi! I’m Jeroen Willems. Currently residing in Brussels, Belgium. Aside from AHW, I have been actively involved in EA Belgium and Brussels since 2016. I obtained my master's degree in audiovisual arts, specializing in television, from RITCS in 2020. During my studies, I learned how to direct, write scripts, film, edit and develop concepts. The very first A Happier World video, published in November 2020, was part of my master’s project. After graduating, I applied to the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund which has funded the project since April 2021 (with some months without funding in between grants). 

Current situation

After reapplying in January, I unfortunately received news on March 8th that the EAIF would not renew funding. Since the grant ended on March 1st, I am currently seeking new funding sources for the channel but I am also exploring other job opportunities in case my search is unsuccessful or if I find something more interesting. At the same time, I am working on finalizing a video about sewage water monitoring (and how it can help in the fight against future pandemics), a project that I have been working on since January.

Track record

Since launching A Happier World in November 2020, I have produced 14 long-form videos, each garnering between 1,000 to 13,000 views, and 26 short-form videos for platforms like TikTok, Reels, and YouTube Shorts.

A key metric of success on YouTube is average view duration, which shows how engaged viewers are. This metric has improved from 2:19 minutes in 2022 to 3:35 minutes in 2023 (with the average video being 11:40 minutes long). Views (+29,904 in 2022, +39,795 in 2023) and subscribers (+432 in 2022, +1776 in 2023) have also increased significantly, but I sometimes try to promote my videos using ads, which boost these numbers. So they don’t mean anything if these viewers don't actually watch the videos.

Notably, two of my videos were shared by Peter Singer on social media[1], and I had the opportunity to interview him for a video on sentientism[2]. Additionally, my content has had some measurable impact: several non-EA friends donated to effective charities after watching my videos and hundreds of viewers clicked on links to charities I left in the comments of my videos (unfortunately, I don’t know how much they actually donated). Unfortunately, the true impact is difficult to say as I believe the most interesting results are very hard to measure.

Plans & goals

My top priority is Goal 1, but achieving it requires a focus on Goals 2 and 3. If your goal is to grow a YouTube channel, your content should primarily be entertaining and revenue-generating. However, adhering to core values remains crucial.

1. Have a positive impact

  • Foster awareness of the world’s most pressing problems and ways we can solve them
  • Choose topics commonly discussed within the broader Effective Altruism movement
  • Encourage people to take action such as finding an impactful career, donating to effective charities, cutting back on animal products, and more
  • A Happier World’s values are aligned with the principles of the Effective Altruism movement, as specified here.

2. Maximize engagement: Increase average watch time

  • Average watch time refers to the average duration for which a viewer watches a particular video
  • This metric holds significance for both the YouTube algorithm and channel growth
  • It offers insights into how engaging your videos are. It serves as a potential indicator of their impact

3. Maximize watch hours

  • The amount of watch hours represents the total amount of time people have spent watching your videos.
  • It is considered a more valuable indicator of growth compared to views or subscribers.
  • To be eligible for the first tier of monetization (channel donations), I must have accumulated at least 3,000 public watch hours within the past 365 days. For the second tier (YouTube ad revenue), I need to have at least 4,000 hours.

I hope to become eligible for YouTube monetization, creating an additional income stream for the channel beyond grants. To qualify for the first tier of monetization (channel donations), I need at least 3,000 public watch hours in the past 365 days. For the second tier (YouTube ad revenue), I require at least 4,000 hours. Currently at ~300 hours, I need at least a tenfold increase in channel growth. My approach will be to consistently publish engaging content to reach the 3,000-hour goal while staying true to the channel's core values: covering global priorities, impartial altruism, open truth-seeking, and collaborative spirit (similar to EA’s core principles on the Effective Altruism website).

How will I achieve these goals?

In the past, the focus of AHW was more on finding the most important topics and explaining them well and concisely. Now, the focus is primarily on creating engaging content on any interesting topics related to EA. This has led to an increased emphasis on storytelling and visually engaging topics. My latest long-form video, on lead poisoning, exemplifies this new focus. It received the most positive feedback to date. 

I will also focus on promoting my videos more often (through the use of social media and short-form content) and optimizing the video production process to significantly boost the number of videos produced. The latter will be achieved by making shorter videos (5-10 minutes, for as long as I work alone on AHW) and showing as much as possible on camera rather than trying to explain things through time-consuming animations. Hiring freelancers or employees can also help a lot to increase the output of AHW.

Potential impact 

Many viewpoints are being shared and listened to on YouTube but effective altruist ideas only make a tiny fraction of that. I believe there is an untapped market and that with my skill set I can help with breaking into it. The YouTube channel Kurzgesagt, which has nearly 20 million subscribers, is a channel I look up to with a similar (but broader) target audience.

I think a YouTube channel like mine has the potential to have a great impact if you look at how other explainer channels are doing (ex. Kurzgesagt, TED-Ed, Vox, Johnny Harris, Cleo Abram). Even a fraction of their reach might have great positive consequences (ex. convincing dozens of people to pursue high-impact careers). While my channel might be small now, things can change quickly on YouTube. See the success of Rational Animations for example.


What are the most likely causes and outcomes if this project fails?

I see two main challenges for A Happier World:

  1. Funding AHW is a form of hit-based giving. If you look at the costs and impact so far, it's likely not been very cost-effective. However, if AHW becomes more popular, it could turn out to be very impactful. But there's no guarantee that if I work on AHW for another year, the channel will reach a cost-effective level of popularity. These things can take a lot of time. Many successful YouTubers created videos for years without gaining significant traction. It is very hard to estimate the timeframe required for success. Therefore, it's difficult for me to determine how many years of effort are worthwhile before deciding to discontinue AHW. However, I believe that it has yet to reach its full potential.
  2. I’ve been slower at producing videos than I expected: ~2.4 long-form videos per month and ~1.4 short-form videos per month since April 2021. Simply mathematically speaking, a higher output of videos means an increased odds of being picked up by the algorithm. I would like to produce at least one long-form video a month, but even that might be too slow. And while I’m optimistic I can improve the speed at which I make videos, my progress on this has been a lot worse than expected and I’m not confident that I will ever reach a speed of making videos fast enough to please the YouTube algorithm on my own. So to really increase AHW’s output, I may need more hands on deck.

I didn’t get any feedback when my EAIF grant application got declined. But I suspect that these two challenges, in combination with the increased funding threshold, were contributing factors.

In the comments, please do share extra thoughts on why you think it would be a good or bad idea to fund AHW!

Funding goals

How will this funding be used?

Here’s a funding breakdown to support me working full-time on A Happier World for a 12-month period: 

  • $30000 (~€28000) for post-tax salary
  • $10000 (~€9300) on expenses such as freelancers, professional growth, hardware, gear, software, work trips,...

Subtotal: $40k post-tax

I estimate that taxes would cost very roughly around $11k (~€10000) for this breakdown.

$40k + $11k = $51k, or $55000 rounded up to be safe.

If I find a full-time job that I’m confident I’ll stick to for at least a year, I will return the unused funds.

If I find a part-time job, I will allocate the funds over a full-time equivalent time period. For instance, if I secure funding for 6 months full-time equivalent (FTE), but I find another 0.5 FTE job, I will utilize the funding for approximately 12 months. I say "approximately" because the amount of taxes may differ.

I believe having extra hands on deck is crucial in order to increase the output of A Happier World. And increasing the output is crucial in order to get picked up by social media algorithms. After having worked a lot of time on A Happier World completely alone, and looking back on previous projects where I collaborated with others, I am very confident that having at least one other person helping out will increase the output. This is why I intend to allocate most of the $10k in expenses on freelancers. I will first look for someone who has some experience in the film/tv industry and has good production and project management skills. I’m optimistic that such a person could significantly increase AHW’s output by improving workflows, adding extra accountability and just being an extra hand on deck. Next I would prioritize researchers and writers, as I’m confident there are plenty of people out there who can write and do research faster than I ever could. 

Minimum funding

28/04/24 Update: I've lowered the minimum funding goal from $10,000 to $2,500 to give donors confidence that their money will directly support the project. Because if the minimum funding goal isn't reached, you won't get your money back. Instead it will go back in your Manifund balance for you to spend on a different project. I understand this may have been a barrier for some, which is why I lowered the minimum funding goal. 

I do still hope to at least reach the original minimum funding goal of $10,000, as I'm confident this will allow me to make at least one more video in addition to the one I'm currently finishing. With any funding below $10,000, I can only promise to complete that video faster and that I'll use the remaining time to create additional content like TikToks, Shorts, Reels, or a shorter YouTube video. Regardless of the amount raised, I will use the funds as effectively as possible, with each $2,500 below $10,000 representing roughly half a month of full-time work. What follows is the funding breakdown of the original $10,000 minimum funding goal.

Minimum 2 months FTE (potentially spread over a longer time period in case I'm doing it part-time)

  • €4600 for post-tax salary
  • €500 to freelancers, hardware, gear, software, work trips,...

Subtotal: €5100 or ~$5500 post-tax

I estimate that taxes would cost roughly around $4350 (€4000) for this breakdown.

$5500 + $4350 = $9850 or $10000 rounded up.

In this scenario, I would focus on making at least one more long-form video aside from the video on sewage water monitoring that I’m currently still finishing. I would also make at least 3 more short-form videos. I will aim a lot higher than this, but given my track record of less than one video every two months, I don’t want to promise more than this. This amount of funding is likely too low to work with freelancers but I don’t rule it out completely.

While calculating the amount of taxes beforehand is already challenging enough with a year-long grant, with a short grant it’s even more complicated as it depends a lot on other activities I’ll be doing during the tax year. If I need to spend less taxes than expected, I will use the extra money to improve the quality and output of the videos or to work slightly longer. 

Funding goal

12 months FTE or $55k.

In this scenario I would make at least 6 long-form videos and one short-form video every month. This is a minimum I feel comfortable promising, but I hope to have at least double the output.

Additional funding

As mentioned before, I’m worried I can’t significantly increase AHW’s output on my own. Additional funds would thus primarily be used to speed up content creation by hiring (freelance or full time) producers, writers, video editors, animators, graphic designers and/or marketing/comms roles.

What other funding are you or your project getting?

Currently nothing. But I’ve applied to some other funds and will continue to do so. If successful, that could mean your marginal dollar will be less impactful. I do think A Happier World has a lot of room for funding, since extra money can be used to hire more people which in turn leads to more and better content.

What would I do without funding?

In case of no funds at all, I might resort to only making short-form content (TikToks/Shorts) every once in a while. But if a future full time job is mentally taxing, there’s a good chance I won’t have any time to make content. I still aim to finish my video on sewage water monitoring, no matter how long it might take.

In case you’re interested in using my skill set for your EA-related project, hire me! I’m open to do some freelance jobs combined with A Happier World or to go for an entirely different full-time job. I’m interested in many jobs related to marketing, communications, content creation, community building,... You can reach out to me here on the EA forum.

My linked-in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/willems-jeroen/

Concluding thoughts

I sincerely hope I can get A Happier World to take off, that it will reach and inspire many people, and that all the money put into it will be worth it. It’s a project that I deeply care about, as it combines both my passion for creating video content and my drive to make a significant positive impact on the world. Your support is immensely appreciated, and I’ll make the most of it.

If you have any questions, do reach out to me here on the forum or anonymously!

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It seems like video release frequency is a significant bottleneck for you?

I'm not sure what the main time costs are. But some guesses of things that might help:


  • freelancers, as you say
  • going for less thoroughly edited videos
  • doing some crowdsourcing or having volunteers/collaborators help write scripts
  • using LLMs more in the writing
  • doing interviews, article readouts, or other formats that enable you to produce long-form content fairly quickly (perhaps mixed in with the existing formats)
  • just setting yourself aggressive targets and working it out as you go

(FWIW I feel slightly surprised they take so long to create, but I've never tried creating videos as high quality and engaging as yours need to be.)

Maybe there are also other routes to monetisation, e.g patreon, ads/sponsorships for videos (maybe from EA orgs), or pitching orgs on videos you could do for them on your channel that you otherwise wouldn't do.

Hi Jamie!

You're right, output is definitely the biggest bottleneck. Right now, I'm focusing on making shorter videos that cover narrower, more specific topics. I'm also trying to incorporate more real-world footage to keep things visually interesting without requiring so much editing time. Unfortunately, my lead poisoning video and the video I'm currently working on turned out to be a lot more ambitious than I expected.

I'm already working on your first four suggestions. I'm hesitant about the fifth point. I've tried the last point many times, but it never really worked out well. I think finding a collaborator who's willing to dedicate time to the project could be really helpful with this.

I worry the other routes to monetization won't provide enough financial security at the current size of the channel for me to be able to reliably output videos.

Oh my suggestion wasn't necessarily that they'realternatives to receiving any donations; they could be supplements. They could be things you experiment with that could help to make the channel more sustainable and secure.

As additional sources of funding, I agree they're good ideas!

Executive summary: A Happier World, a YouTube channel promoting effective altruism ideas, is seeking funding to continue creating engaging content and increase its reach and impact.

Key points:

  1. A Happier World aims to make complex global issues accessible to a broader audience and encourage people to take action to solve pressing problems.
  2. The channel has seen growth in views, subscribers, and engagement, but requires further funding to continue producing content and achieve its goals.
  3. Key goals include maximizing engagement and watch hours to qualify for YouTube monetization while staying true to the channel's core values.
  4. Funding will be used primarily for a full-time salary and expenses such as hiring freelancers to increase video output and quality.
  5. Challenges include the uncertainty of achieving cost-effective popularity and the need for additional help to significantly increase video production speed.
  6. Without funding, the channel may resort to only creating short-form content or potentially cease production altogether.



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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