I've made it official CEA policy that we always use lower case. (Edit: If you see "Effective Altruism" on one of our posts or websites in a place where it shouldn't be capitalized, please let me know so I can fix it.)
- Like others have said here, I think of EA as a philosophy/system of thought, along the lines of "liberalism" or "utilitarianism", rather than as a formalized religion or political institution, like "Christianity" or "the Democratic Party".
- I agree that there are specific values and practices that are inherent to EA, but it's difficult to point to any one thing that would "qualify" a person or organization as officially being "part of EA" vs. not.
- There is such a thing as a "registered Democrat", but "registered EA community member" isn't really a thing. You can set up a profile on the EA Hub, but so can literally anyone; this doesn't confer any official privileges.
- See why I don't like the term "effective altruist" (including my reply to Michael Aird's comment, which pulls out the difference between that question and the capitalization question).
- Regarding institutions, I consider many organizations to be some degree of "EA-aligned" even if they have nothing whatsoever to do with our movement. I think of this alignment as a spectrum, rather than a binary thing where an org does or doesn't "count".
- For example, consider a global health charity that gets serious consideration from GiveWell but doesn't quite pass the bar to be a "Standout Charity". Do the charity's employees have "EA jobs"?
- Their work is aligned with EA's mission, and presumably involves what most people in EA would consider a "promising cause area". Given this, I see the "EA jobs" question as beside the point.
In your example, of the person who uses Charity Navigator, I still think the binary distinction isn't helpful:
- Is this person trying to do more good? Yes.
- Is the strategy they're using likely to help them do substantially more good than they would otherwise? Probably not.
- Is their personal philosophy generally in line with EA? Impossible to tell from this single statement.
- Would they fit in well at an EA meetup? Depends on how open they are to considering different ideas.
- Should they be hired for a role at a very EA-aligned organization? Depends on their skills and other elements of fit; their confusion about overhead is just one small fact about them. I wouldn't want them writing curricula about effective giving, but they might be a great accountant.
...and so on.
I got off-topic at the end there, but to return to my main point:
I think that capitalizing "effective altruism" makes it seem more like a binary thing (you count or you don't, you have this identity or you don't) and less like a spectrum (many people are aligned with EA to some degree, but no one is a perfect exemplar of every EA principle). But given how complicated the above questions can get, I think "spectrum" is a better fit than "binary".