If you are thinking about a career in Effective Altruism, you should definitely consider charity entrepreneurship. You can now apply to our summer 2020 Incubation Program, which will help you start an effective charity. 

We provide the following:

  • Training in skills relevant to starting charities;
  • Thoroughly researched ideas to start;
  • Long-term mentorship;
  • Seed grants of up to US$100,000.

This round of applications is open until January 15, 2020. There will be a subsequent application round in March 2020, but if you apply in this round, you will have a higher chance of being accepted into the program. This post provides an overview and links to more detailed information. 

To apply, click below and follow the instructions:


The program

In the program, which lasts two months, you will learn the relevant skills to start a charity. You will be taught by a team with a history of starting and mentoring multiple successful non-profits in the EA space. There will also be guest speakers who are experts on having a big impact. Historically, we have had the following and others give talks and answer questions:

  • Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save and Animal Liberation;
  • Nikita Patel, co-founder and CEO of Fortify Health;
  • Rob Mather, founder of the Against Malaria Foundation;
  • David Coman-Hidy, founder of the Humane League; 
  • Bruce Friedrich, founder of the Good Food Institute.

Skills you will learn include the following: strategy, management, measurement and evaluation, fundraising, charity registration, hiring, self-care, and many others that you will need to start an effective non-profit. 

More information:

The ideas

You do not need to already have an idea to apply to our program. We are most excited to receive applications from those who want to have an impact on the world but are not sold on a specific idea. We do prioritization research along the lines of GiveWell, but instead of recommending charities for donations, we propose charities to start. We suggest interventions in the following areas:

  • Global poverty (particularly global health policy and family planning);
  • Animal advocacy (including farmed and wild animals);
  • Mental health (including developing and developed world contexts).

A large percentage of your impact comes from the idea you start. And the skills needed to do research are different from those required for founding an organization; therefore, it makes sense to divide the labor. Our research team spends thousands of hours investigating which ideas are cost-effective, evidence-based, and scalable to help give you the best chance of having a very large impact with your life and career. 

Our ideas help reduce analysis paralysis and make the process of starting a cost-effective and evidence-based charity easier. You can also feel more confident in your impact because you can know that our team has done its best to evaluate the idea’s effectiveness and attempted to find disconfirming evidence for its claims. We only recommend ideas that look the best when compared to hundreds of other options. 

Last year, we recommended multiple animal and poverty interventions. One example was increasing the taxes on tobacco. This intervention has many studies showing it decreases smoking rates, thus increasing the health of individuals while simultaneously strengthening the government’s ability to help its citizens through increased revenue. An example of an animal recommendation that got started was increasing the oxygen level for farmed fish. Living without enough oxygen is a painful and often fatal condition that fish must endure until slaughter, but it is an extremely cheap and easy thing to fix. We are working on researching this year’s recommendations, and you can see our past suggestions, including ideas that are as yet un-started, and our research process here

We do accept people into the program who have their own ideas as long as they can make a compelling case that they will have an impact at a similarly high level compared to our recommendations. To do this, you must show how cost-effective it is, and if little evidence exists supporting it, the cost-effectiveness estimates must be higher to compensate for expected regression to the mean. 

More information:

The case for impact

Imagine if you were the difference between GiveWell, AMF, or THL existing or not. Starting an effective charity can have a huge counterfactual impact. Some charities have an impact that is an order of magnitude greater than others, and this is even more frequently the case when they are started with maximizing impact in mind, as with Evidence Action, THL, and GiveWell. Sometimes, you can even be the first and only charity in the field, which makes the impact even larger. 

Starting a charity has direct impact, and calculations have put it at a similar expected value to donating US$215,000 a year to AMF. Since the charity market is very inefficient, there are plenty of gaps. Often, the difference between an organization run by an effectiveness-minded person and one that is not is like the difference between GiveWell and Charity Navigator. 

Aside from the direct impact of the charity, there are many positive flow-through effects. It can inspire others to start more charities, set a higher standard for the NGO sector, create more EA job opportunities, and move charitable dollars to higher impact options. 

More information:

The application process

Should you apply?

If you are unsure whether you would be a good fit for this type of career, we encourage you to apply. Historically, we have discovered it is difficult for people to judge their personal fit. So, the application process is essentially an impartial third-party assessment. 


Application deadline: January 15, 2020

Program date: June 29⎼August 28, 2020

Costs: All costs covered, including tuition, accommodation, food, and flights

Location: London, UK (the program cannot be done remotely)

Hours: Monday–Friday (9 a.m.–5 p.m.)

Visas: We can get most people into the UK for the duration of the program


If you are interested and cannot find the answers to your questions within the linked material, please apply for a Skype meeting. You can also email us with a quick question through our contact form. We do not have the capacity to speak to everyone, but we endeavor to talk to as many as we can. 


More information:


6 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:58 PM
New Comment

I went through the program last year and found it useful (I'm now launching Fish Welfare Initiative). I'd be happy to talk with anyone if they have questions about what it's like on the inside

Ditto on this - I went through the program and am working on tobacco policy, happy to chat with folks who want to ask about what it's like

I went to the program, was quite impressed with what I saw there, and decided to work at charity entrepreneurship.

Before attending the program, as career paths, I was considering academia, earning to give, direct work in the global poverty space, and a few other more offbeat options. After the program, I'd estimate that I've significantly increased the expected value of my own career (perhaps by 3x-12x or more) in terms of impact by attending the program, thanks to

1) the direct impact of CE itself and associated organizations. I can say that in terms of what I've directly witnessed, there's a formidable level of productive work occurring at this organization. My own level of raw productivity has risen quite a bit by being in proximity and picking up good habits. I'm pretty convinced that this productivity translates into impact, (although on that count, you can evaluate the key assumptions and claims yourself by looking at the cost effectiveness models and historical track record).

2) practical meta-skills I've picked up regarding how to think about personal impact. Not only did I change my mind and update on quite a few important considerations, but there were also quite a few things that I didn't even realize were considerations before attending the program. I think my decision making going forward will be better now.

3) connections and network to other effective altruists, and general knowledge about the effective altruism movement. Prior to attending the program my engagement with the community was on a rather abstract level. Now, if I wanted to harness the EA community to accomplish a concrete action in the global poverty or animal space, I'd know roughly what to do and who to talk to and how to get started.

4) the career capital from program related activities.

Also, I had a good time. If you enjoy skill building and like interacting with other effective altruists, the program is quite fun.

Happy to answer any questions.

I'd be interested to hear about any of the productive habits you picked up while you were "in proximity"!

Spend some time brainstorming and compare multiple alternative courses of action and potential hurdles to those actions before embarking on it, consider using a spreadsheet to augment your working memory when you evaluate actions by various criteria, get a sense of expected value per time on a given task so you can decide how long it's worth to spend on it, enforce this via time capping / time boxing and if you are working much longer on a given task much than you estimated then re-evaluate what you are doing, time track which task you spend your working hours on to become more aware of time in general. Personally I don't think I fully appreciated how valuable time was and how much i was sometimes wasting unintentionally before tracking it (although I could see some people finding this stressful)

Of course this is all sort of easier said than done haha. I think to some degree watching other people actually doing things which one is supposed to do helps enforce the habit.

Do you have reports on mental health? What are the types of interventions you are mainly aiming towards?