Thanks to your support, we have crossed the milestone of 1x 0,5FTE for 2024!
So far, we have collected $18.6k: $9k through fundraising among the Polish community members before posting on the EA forum and $9.6k since the post. It is a total of individual donations and subscriptions x14 (entire 2024 + Nov and Dec 2023)
9 more people contributing $100/month would let us reach 1 FTE.
The subscriptions currently range from ~$10/month to $500/month and each makes a difference.
To reach the optimal scenario where all 3 of us continue the work full time, we need to raise $70,7k more. There is still a long way to go, but driven by the expected value, we will fundraise our fingers to the bones.
We (EA Poland) were struck by an unexpected funding cut and we are genuinely afraid. We are afraid of losing momentum and falling apart without a chance to realize our group’s potential to do good. On the other hand, by filling the gap for 2024 we think there is over a 90% chance that we will be able to reach a sustainability tipping point i.e. have a viable income stream for at least 1 FTE and therefore avoid similar threats in the future.
We expect that, if maintained, our community and the projects we pursue, e.g. the effective giving platform, “governance and democracy” fellowship, AI Safety field building, or the large-scale, high-impact career planning lessons in high schools, will yield a significant positive impact.
Help us reach that point.
25 people contributing $100/month (~400pln) keep one of us going (and that includes 40% taxes…). That’s how far $ and € still go in Poland.
You can easily support us with a donation using e.g. a credit card through our website.
It is not a matter of just prolonging EA Poland’s existence. It is ensuring it.
Structure of the post
- Why bother with Poland?
- Where would the impact come from in 2024?
- What is the problem and why do we think it can be temporary?
- How is the positive impact going so far?
Why bother with Poland?
Despite its economic growth, it is still relatively cheap, but it won’t last forever. We still seem to be in a sweet spot, where investing in EA Poland’s growth can result in attracting a lot of highly talented individuals to work on the most pressing problems at a lower cost than in Western countries.
There are ~38 million people living in Poland and up to 21 million Polish people living across the world.
They stand behind organizations like Charity Entrepreneurship (Karolina Sarek), Lafiya Nigeria (Klau Chmielowska), Anima International (e.g. Jakub Stencel, although more Poles were involved in setting it up). Our community members work across many other EA organizations and at top AI Labs.
And yet we can’t help thinking that we are merely scratching the surface of this potential.
Where would the impact come from in 2024?
Before we present our plans for 2024, in response to one of the comments, we want to provide more context as to why we chose to pursue those.
Otherwise, it may look as if we spread the team of three really thin and simply lack focus.
To begin with, we don’t think there is a clear answer as to what is the right approach to movement building in Poland (or EA movement building overall) or how to best utilize the local opportunities for positive impact exertion. Over time, we expect to gain more certainty and be able to double down on some activities. However, we are merely over one year in and we simply lack the data. That is why we decided to try out different projects in a limited scope, evaluate the results, pivot whenever needed, and distribute our resources in accordance with the expected value.
A crucial element that was missing in the original post is the immense help we receive from a group of 30 dedicated volunteers (Active Members). Without them, some of the plans would probably not even be considered here, e.g. Intro to EA and AI Fundamentals fellowships.
We have highlighted the role of our Active Members in the linked post, but of course, we should not expect people to jump all across the forum to find relevant information.
We think that with the current/planned (depending on the project’s status - most of them are pending, but Governance and Democracy is just a plan) responsibility and resource distribution, we can do well in each of the projects given their limited scope. This way we aim to gain the necessary data to determine whether to scale up, limit, put on hold, or reject any of them.
If we suddenly lose some of our resources and can’t carry out e.g. the fellowships or Governance and Democracy, it would be unfortunate, but it does not damage the community’s health or tarnish EA’s reputation. We “just” lose the potential of the positive impact. The same can be applied to the majority of our plans.
Lastly, the long-term goal (1-3 years) is to let some of our projects thrive as stand-alone entities and with separate management, e.g. the effective giving platform (the Dutch platform doneereffectief.nl is a great example of such a successful incubation).
Rethink Priorities’ 2022 survey results suggest that 80,000 Hours:
- is the second most common source where respondents first hear about EA;
- is the most common factor important for getting involved in EA;
- is the second most commonly selected influence on EAs’ ability to have a positive impact.
That, combined with the talent pool we see in Poland, is why we think it makes sense to put most of our efforts into this area. We expect that it will contribute to both, general community growth and more individuals choosing a high-impact career.
Our Co-Director, Maria Gembarzewska-Truong, apart from being a devoted EA for many years, is a career advisor, psychologist, and HR professional which we expect will translate to high-quality projects concerning impactful career planning.
As mentioned in this forum post, we have partnered up with Zwolnieni z Teorii. It is a well-established Polish non-profit that will publish our lesson scenarios on high-impact career planning in its database in November. As a result, over 3000 high school teachers will be able to access it. To encourage the utilization of those materials, our partner will publish an interview on the career planning they conducted with Maria and an article on the same topic. Lastly, we will distribute up to 250x 80,000-hour books to socially engaged, English-speaking teachers who apply for those.
We expect data on how it went in January 2024.
Below, you can see other plans for 2024:
- Translation of the 80,000 Hours book from English into Polish.
At the end of 2022, we conducted the first survey among our community members. It was filled by 130 people and over 40% responded that they could use more materials in Polish. We believe it might serve as a sample showcasing the challenge faced by part of our society. Translation of the book 80,000 Hours is meant to remove the language barrier on the way to a high-impact career regardless of the target audience.
Moreover, thanks to our partnership with Zwolnieni z Teorii we could theoretically* support up to 3000 high school teachers with 80,000 Hours as a handbook. However, we expect this reach to be greatly limited without the Polish version of this material.
*In practice, they would all have to claim it which is unlikely. We think the reasonable number of teachers who would request the book is ~500 in 2024. The number of those, who will then carry on the lesson on that topic will be lower still. We should be able to estimate it better in January based on the data from the pending pilot, but even a 10% rate seems highly impactful.
- Distribution of 500 books in Polish to high school teachers and promoting the lesson scenarios on high-impact career planning further.
It would be a continuation of the project initiated in 2023. We hope that the books will serve as an inspiration and encouragement to use the scenario regarding high-impact career. If we assume that only 10% choose to do so in a class of ~25, we end up with 1250 students having lessons on the topic.
The lesson scenarios had to be done only once and thanks to 80,000 Hours’ permission, we can print the books ourselves. Printing one piece incl. delivery costs us <$5. Delivery to a teacher is another <$5. That means that using those conservative estimates, a student would have a lesson based on 80,000 Hours delivered at no more than $5 (incl. hours spent on developing the concept, creating the lesson scenarios, etc.). At this point, we don’t see ways in which this cost could increase significantly, but there are factors that could reduce it, e.g. far more teachers conducting the lesson; teachers conducting the lesson and not claiming the book; teachers conducting the lesson for several groups…
- Creating a High-Impact Career Fellowship.
The program will introduce the core EA concepts and guide participants through the impactful career planning process. It will be based on the 80,000 Hours materials.
We expect that the program will attract new talented and morally ambitious individuals from outside the community.
- Conducting 2-4 editions of this program for at least 30 participants.
We expect that at least 70% of the participants will confirm through a post-fellowship survey, that the program has convinced them to pursue a high-impact career and helped with establishing the first steps.
- Conducting at least 20 career 1-1s.
The 1-1s would be meant for promising EA community members.
We expect that at least 80% of the participants will confirm through a post 1-1 survey, that the 1-1 has helped them with making progress in their high-impact career pursuit.
AI Safety field building
In our opinion, Polish specialists have the potential to play a significant role in this process. They already represent us in leading AI labs and in organizations (e.g. in Brussels) dealing with European legislation in the field of AI. What's more, in thirty-four editions of the International Olympiad in Informatics, young Poles have won 123 medals, second only to China and ahead of Russia and the United States. Poland is also among the highest-ranking European countries in STEM university graduates in relation to the number of young people.
We have started the development of the AI Safety field recently by organizing:
- Two tracks (Technical AI Safety and AI Governance) of the fellowships based on AI Safety Fundamentals syllabuses.
- 3-day long AI Governance boot camp.
- Weekly Technical AI Safety calls.
Here’s what is going to happen in 2024:
- Outreach to Polish AI specialists to seek synergies.
The assumption is that the existing AI specialists can contribute to Technical AI Safety and AI Governance swiftly. Those encouraged to cooperate within the AI Safety field could become valuable partners in the relevant projects.
Our goal is to facilitate such contribution of at least one Polish AI specialist. It can be either by involving the person in projects executed in Poland or abroad.
- Outreach to Polish International Olympiad in Informatics medalists.
We want to introduce highly talented individuals to AI Safety as a relevant career path.
We think that we can encourage 5-10 medalists to take part in the AI Safety Fundamentals course.
- Conducting 4 editions of an online course for at least 30 participants.
We expect that about 15-20% of the graduates will remain involved in the projects related to AI Safety.
- Organizing a Polish edition of the ML4Good (Machine Learning For Good) multi-day workshop for at least 10-20 people based on the program of editions conducted so far in France and Germany. It would be executed with assistance from the previous organizers.
The program is meant to help active EA community members with upskilling for work on projects related to AI Safety and with general career capital acquisition.
Effective giving platform
As mentioned earlier, charitable giving in Poland is on the rise. We have recently completed the process of setting up the platform with all its legal and tax requirements. Now, www.wiecejdobra.pl is ready, and here is what we are planning to do next:
- Launching at least one online promotional campaign.
The platform is up and running but it has not been introduced yet to the wider public.
We think we can raise up to $5,000 and gain 200 newsletter subscribers with that action.
- Raising at least $50,000 in 2024.
According to our estimates, in the worst-case scenario, we will collect 10.000-20.000 euros.
- Expanding the platform with new functionalities.
Our external partner is in the process of developing a list of recommended UX improvements that may increase the overall conversion rate.
- Launching consulting services for larger donors (at least 3 regular donors - HNWIs and/or businesses).
The goals assume we don’t have any additional employees to pursue this project.
Governance and Democracy
A number of international, state, and local institutions have the opportunity to contribute to solving global problems on a scale unmatched by many other interventions. Despite this, those driven by the desire to make a positive impact still rarely seem to consider a career path related to work in this area.
This project is a blend of field-building and career planning.
As the first step, we want to develop a "Governance and Democracy" fellowship to guide participants through:
- the biggest global challenges,
- ways in which international, state, and local (governmental and non-governmental) institutions (can) contribute to solving them,
- how these institutions function,
- career paths for those interested in working in this area.
The fellowship would be developed in partnership with individuals and institutions who have relevant experience.
We will then conduct a pilot for up to 6-8 people and if it works fine, one edition of the program for up to 16 people.
With this project, we hope to encourage 1-3 community members to take a step towards working in this field.
General community building
We assume that our Career Planning, Governance and Democracy, and AI Safety projects will contribute to the general growth of the community. We want to make sure that the newcomers can feel safe and supported.
In order to maintain good community health, we aim to focus on in-person activities at a few locations. This way we hope that the quality of our assistance (help with the local meetups; career, intro, coaching 1-1s; onboarding of the new volunteers; etc.) will be satisfying.
We want to make sure that the community members and people interested in joining from other areas are not excluded. Those will have an easy time scheduling online 1-1s through a new website and regular virtual events to participate in.
Here are the specifics for 2024:
- Conducting 4 editions of an Intro Fellowship for at least 30 people.
- Supporting further development of the university group in Warsaw.
- Supporting further development of city groups in Warsaw, Cracow, and Wroclaw.
- Seeding a new university group in Cracow.
- Seeding a new city group in Tricity.
- Organizing a monthly online reading club.
The idea for 2024 is to make it an easy entry point for people who are unfamiliar with EA by organizing discussions about the basic concepts.
We think we can have ~10 participants per meeting.
- Organizing quarterly, open, online meetings with updates from EA Poland.
The meetings enable the participants to learn about the projects we have been executing so far, about the plans we have for the next quarter, and about the ways we can get involved.
We think that each call will result in 1-2 participants joining the projects as volunteers.
- Organizing bi-weekly online meetings for the active community members.
In order to talk about any project execution and further development, we put fundraising at the very center. The efforts will be led by our Co-Director, Chris Szulc, who has previously worked as a broker and will transfer his sales and marketing skills to strive for the following budget* (min. $87k) distribution:
- 5-10% - grants from outside the EA
- 10-15% - HNWI (EA)
- 30-35% - individual donors (EA and non-EA, where the latter would probably make up to 5%)
- 40-55% - EA grants
Achieving it would mean decreasing our dependency on EA grants by up to 45% and obtaining up to 15% of our budget from outside the EA.
*This budget does not include Group Support for books and retreats we have already received.
Other operational goals for 2024 are:
- Setting up a new website.
- Setting up a Polish language knowledge base in Notion.
We want to ensure that the institutional knowledge is kept in a clear, well-organized manner. This way we want to reduce the risk of losing the project continuity in case the responsible parties are unable to be involved. Moreover, it will facilitate the onboarding of new volunteers and employees.
- Further development of our CRM.
We expect that by the end of 2023, we will have 100+ subscribers to our CRM and at least 80% of them will agree to be connected with other community members for 1-1s if the relevant interest or expertise suggests it might be valuable.
In 2024 we want to double the number of subscribers and facilitate at least 25 connections.
What is the problem and why do we think it can be temporary?
EA Poland is a little over one year of intensive work on setting ourselves up for a long-term, sustainable presence in the country. You can find more details regarding the current state of the community and our activities in this forum post from August 2023.
Unfortunately, after several EA Infrastructure Fund grants supporting our growth and three months post our “inaugural” EAGxWarsaw (June 2023), the next extension of our grant was rejected. They stated that their budget constraint makes it unusually hard to get funding these days. Meta Charity Funders (MCF) chose not to prioritize funding our organization in its very first round. The news came as we were finalizing our fundraising strategy meant to decrease our dependency on the EA ecosystem.
As of November, we have a team of three and enough money to work on EA Poland for another 2 months.
Lack of funding will force us to seek other jobs, setting the organization on hold, affecting the momentum, and maybe even letting the community slide to a dormant state. Such a dormancy happened to EA Poland twice in the last decade.
Counterfactually, we think there is over a 90% chance that if we secure funding for 2024 now, we can avoid similarly dire situations in the future.
Our team members have professional experience in Polish grants acquisition, sales, and marketing which we now channeled towards diversifying funding sources. This month we are applying for a special NGO status (public welfare organization), the Polish equivalent of being declared as a non-profit, which will allow Polish taxpayers to transfer 1.5% of their tax due to EA Poland. In the last month, we have fundraised nearly $10,000 from individual donors.
Moreover, as we understand, the EA Infrastructure Fund might fill their budget gap within ~6 months. MCF has the next round of applications in March 2024. We will apply to both funds and by then, we will also have more data on the impact of our projects. This month, we will be applying to OpenPhil to seek funds for one of our projects (career planning).
How is the positive impact going so far?
A lot of work done so far laid the ground for accelerated impact in the future (more details can be found in this forum post).
Nonetheless, since we started, the first uni and city groups emerged. The number of volunteers and our Slack channel users doubled. Our activities inspired several GWWC pledges and motivated about 10 people to change their career plans in order to work on EA causes, e.g. Michał Kubiak, our research coordinator who has recently moved to Brussels to work on AI Governance.
Yet it is 2024 when we expect more magic to start happening.
We believe there is a significant potential for impact which can be tapped into, if EA Poland is allowed to at least continue the work we have already started.
If you help us fill the gap for 2024 now, we expect to reach the sustainability tipping point, i.e. i.e. have a viable income stream for at least 1 FTE, and therefore, let us continue for as long as EA Poland is needed.
25 people contributing $100/month (~400pln) keep one of us going (including 40% taxes).
You can easily support us with a donation using e.g. a credit card through our website.