We invite you to ask us anything about Charity Entrepreneurship’s work. As examples, you might want to ask questions related to:
- Our Incubation Program for starting new high-impact charities:
- The application process (stages, preparation, etc.)
- Who is the best fit for the program (personality traits, relevant experience, etc.)
- Details about the 2-month training and co-founder pairing
- Seed funding and financial support (during and after the program)
- Our new Foundations Program
- Our top ideas for the 2023 Incubation Programs:
- Animal-focused interventions
- Policy-based ideas
- Current research on biosecurity
- The research process we use for selecting the top interventions
- Our track record, knowledge base, expertise, how we do stuff, etc.
- Entrepreneurship-focused, career-advice questions
Our whole team will be engaging with your questions to provide the best answers. Deadline for asking questions is: October 16, 2022. We will try to answer all the questions by October 20, 2022.
How to ask questions:
- Please post each question as a separate comment.
- Don’t be discouraged from asking niche questions. We’re happy to address them, there are a lot of new people on the forum who may benefit from the answers.
Small reward for your time:
We will send out a copy of our Peter Singer endorsed handbook, How to Launch a High-Impact Nonprofit, to the authors of the five most interesting questions (as picked by the CE team).
We launch high-impact nonprofits by connecting potential founders with effective ideas, training, and funding. This means we spend thousands of research hours to identify highly-effective interventions in chosen cause areas. We then provide a two-month intensive training program (all costs covered) to teach participants how to run effective charities. We help them pair with a co-founder that will best complement their skills and personality. They finish the program with a proposal for funders that we deliver to our seed network. They grant up to $200,000 USD per project. You can learn more about the program at our Incubation Program website.
What does everyone in your team agree on that the median core EA disagrees on?
Depends what you mean by median core EA, but defining it as “someone we could bump into at EAG multiple years in a row”, I would say:
What are the main advantages of having entrepreneurs start separate organisations vs running the projects inside a larger organisation? You could imagine a world in which entrepreneurs are employees of CE and this would have benefits.
This in many ways is the default path for how many NGOs grow. I think there are quite a few reasons why CE overperforms relative to this. Decentralization broadens the risk profile that each charity is able to take, and smaller organizations move far, far quicker. I suspect the biggest factor though, is not structural but social. The level of founders we get applying are really strong relative to an organization like CE hiring program directors. Due to the psychology of ownership they work far more effectively for their project than they would as an employee of a larger organization.
What kind of applicant do you think underrates their likelihood of success?
... (read more)
This is such a good answer. Once this forum post falls off the front page, would someone searching be likely to find it?
In what ways was researching biosecurity as a cause area different to other areas (if at all)?
Yeah great question! There were some similarities and differences from our normal research process
... (read more)
- We had to very seriously consider information hazards in our idea, which is not a consideration we had given much weight on or considered at all for other cause areas
- Had to rely a bit more on expert opinion and ‘lower’ quality forms of evidence like theoretic evidence, case studies
- We had a lot more uncertainty about our cost-effectiveness analyses, since estimates vary a lot depending on priors about likelihood of future pandemics and how bad they could be; to an extent, these uncertainties were multiplicative, which made quantification particularly challenging
- We had to coordinate and talk a lot more to EA biosecurity folk- the space is small and growing, and it was important
+1 for having an AMA! I think it's really valuable and hope other orgs will do this too!
What have been your 3 biggest wins?
Are there groups/types of people that you would love to see applying to the program who aren't currently (other than just 'talented' people in general)?
Can you talk about how CE takes a midtermist approach and why the team think it's compelling / what your key uncertainities are?
Could you elaborate on the kind of support and network opportunities CE incubatees from non-European countries get access to, especially after the end of the program, and is there support for relocation?
How do you measure the counterfactual impact of CE?
Currently: Currently we have a backend CEA that evaluates the possible scenarios and impact outcomes for each of the charities. It starts out with pretty wide confidence intervals but tends to narrow as the charities get older (e.g., 2nd or 3rd year). We also write up more narrative reviews that go to a set of external advisors.
Long term plan: Longer term we want to hire an external evaluation organization to evaluate every charity we found two years after founding, and use those numbers instead of internal ones.
Over the last few years, salaries for meta charities have increased a fair amount, has this changed how you approach compensation for CE hiring (not for the incubation program)? e.g. are you concerned that some top candidates might self-select out?
Our policy regarding salaries has not changed as much as other meta charities; leanness tends to attract a different sort of applicant. We have a range ($40-$60k) but would consider applications from candidates who need higher than that range. In practice, we have often found the most talented candidates are less concerned with salary and more concerned about other factors (impact of the role, culture, flexibility, etc.). We are a bit skeptical about the perception that talent increases from offering higher salaries (instead of attracting new talent, we typically see the same EA people getting job roles but just for a higher cost).
I think I could be a useful advisor to an initiative that CE is considering starting, but am already committed to a project of my own and so won't apply to the CE program. Is there a way to register my interest in helping? Would CE find that useful?
The answer might be signing up to be a mentor (https://www.charityentrepreneurship.com/mentorship), but that seemed targeted at folks with experience starting/managing orgs.
What other incubation programme do you think is second best after CE, in case you are entrepreneurial and EA minded? In case there is really no one anywhere near, what would be arguments for and against the existence of another CE?
We would be excited about people creating another CE. We think that creating a more effective organization is extremely impactful and would be happy to see more organizations working on it. In those few efforts that have been tried by the EA community, we were happy to advise and share our knowledge, and we will be happy to do it for others.
To my knowledge, there is no EA-aligned nonprofit incubator that provides comprehensive support similar to CE. The closest was Longtermist Entrepreneurship (LE) Project, but they discontinued after a year of scoping. They wrote a fantastic post about their learning. A couple of other organizations that offer some support:
Outside EA there is also Skoll which offers support for social enterprises and Fa... (read more)
I have heard of the $200k E2G threshold you use to quantify impact or help people choose among different career paths. Where can I read more about how this figure is estimated?
In Israel, we have lots of people (in and around EA) who want to be founders, but as far as I know they didn't apply to CE (or they didn't get accepted?)
How many such people do you do "user research" with, if any?
Do you understand why they don't apply and maybe what might get them to apply anyway?
I know of ~3 people who've applied or are applying, and expect there to be more I don't know of :)
It seems like it would be particularly difficult to know ahead of time whether one is well-suited to founding a charity, and I can imagine that is a major barrier to application. Do you have any suggestions for assessment of fit?
Yes - the best way to figure out if you’re a good fit is to apply.
It's low cost and we've developed a pretty good understanding on who will do well. It's not reasonable to expect to know yourself, if you'd be a good fit for doing something that you've never done. So I'd suggest you submit an application and see how far you get.
I will add though, not getting through doesn't mean you're NOT a good fit, it just means we had some concerns or reservations given our particular approach. However if you do get in you can be confident you ARE a good fit. We are very careful about that.
Also, as said elsewhere, almost nobody is a good fit when they first join the program. That’s what the program is for. We’re looking for potential, ambition, capacity to learn and overtime to become a leader.
Is there a deferral option (to the next cycle) for selected candidates who for some reason won’t be able to join the program cycle they applied for? Thanks
Are there any statistics you can share about likelihoods of a successful application?
EA Italy is planning to give a talk about CE and encourage people to apply to this round.
Do you have some slides we could use, would you recommend a particular talk we can copy?
Of course, we'll mention that we're in no way affiliated and are just huge fans.
Thanks so much for all your awesome work!
Here’s a video of a presentation: it’s purpose is to help people really consider if this path is for them.
If you email me firstname.lastname@example.org I’m happy to talk about how you might run a group session, and share some resources.
I've just been looking at the list of ideas you assessed in 2022, and one of them was to do with CO2 stunning of pigs. Even as someone who is reasonably aware of factory farming practices, that was pretty stomach-churning to read. I get that a focus on impact and a well-defined CEA will lead to selecting other ideas, but what do you do with the emotions that must come up as you think about some of the problems you're researching?
Do you have any advice for individuals who are interested in starting a charity, but who cannot or do not want to go through the CE incubation program (e.g. because their application was rejected, or because they didn't find the time to participate in the program, or because they do not fully agree with CE's approach)?
Hey CE team,
I submitted my application a couple of days ago and I've got a question about the application process!
What are the timings for the different stages of the application process, and how much flexibility is there if someone (me, that someone is me) was going to be uncontactable for ~17 days in early November?
I submitted a version of this question with more details to your contact form a couple of days ago. I haven't heard back yet and figured a (slightly) generalised version here could be useful (mostly for me to get a the question seen by the right person, possibly for others in a similar position)
What things does the median EA get wrong by an order of magnitude or more, in the opinion of your team?
This is your current EA forum wiki entry.
What should it say?
Charity Entrepreneurship is a non-profit organization that conducts research and offers training programs aimed at creating high-impact charities. It is an example of a charity incubator. To date, the cause areas their research and incubation activities have mostly focused on are global health and development, animal welfare, and "EA meta", though they've also incubated charities focused on human subjective wellbeing and climate change.
As of July 2022, Charity Entrepreneurship has r... (read more)
If you wanted me to know a 5 minute pitch to tell someone why CE is important, what would it be?
What does everyone in your team agree on that the median EA disagrees on?
If you could get everyone in EA to read one blog length post, which would it be?
I think something talking about the concept of cause X , or an area we think is a top contender that many EAs have not yet considered deeply (e.g., family planning). Even with the recent challenge prize on this, I think EA is way over-indexed on exploit vs. explore when it comes to cause areas.
What community technical infrastructure would CE especially like to see, if any?
eg the difference between the forum, swapcard, twitter, metaculus
We would love to see some kind of integration between what used to be the EA Hub, Swapcard, and EA Forum. It would be amazing if the EA movement could basically have its own ecosystem that combined the functionalities of LinkedIn (all people having professional, accessible work profiles in one space/database) and the forum (the profile is connected to our EA forum posts), with the additional feature that would allow the user to quickly apply to any conference from the profile, and transfer the data to Swapcard (or another conference app). So an all-in-one EA profile that could be researched by potential colleagues, employers, and co-founders. For CE this kind of access to the EA talent pool would be immensely beneficial because one of the bottlenecks for our scaling is reaching the talent pool that can start new charities faster.
As a generator of 18 charity organizations from inception to date, how does CE provide post-incubation support and guidance to ensure that these established charities are thriving optimally, as well as making significant impacts in their various cause areas?
We provide a whole range of supports, from on-going weekly coaching/mentoring, advisors, retreats, sharing resources, workshops, giving administrative, logistical, and legal support. We do whatever we can to help. It's not perfect and we'd like to be able to give even more, but on the whole we are always there if a charity asks for help.
We help find new hires, we help access funding, we've even set up a yearly "insurance" system where our charities can opt to place a small % of their donations as a "rainy day fund" for a charity in the pool that has a timing issue securing funding.
What thoughts do you have about older applicants?
We certainly don't vet on the basis of age. We've had 19 yr olds and 60+ yr olds. I was 43 on the program. Yes it's true that most of the applicants are younger and that youth is a reasonably good proxy for higher energy and career / location flexibility, but we do value life experience and do seek older applicants. One can imagine a particularly good founding team being made up of a younger person with their strengths and an older person with their experience.
As CE is quite impactful and there’s an urgent need for evidence-based, high-impact nonprofits working on an array of cause areas all over the world, are any talks or movements happening for the upscaling and diversification of CE, for instance, starting CE regional branches or broad cause area branches? Thanks!
This reads like you don't want to answer other questions. How about
What is the main bottleneck to CE scaling up faster?
We have the ideas, (and can find more) we have the program, (and can train more). What we need are more applicants. More leaders to pick up the ideas and make them a reality.
I feel a contradiction in these messages:
So it seems that less than 1% of applicants will be accepted, but you still feel that applicants is the bottleneck. Please let me know if I misinterpreted some information.
Many thanks for your time answering our questions and for your great incubation program!
Yep - it's true we get very large numbers of applicants. Perhaps 80% are speculative though, and don't even really understand what we do. So the big number is somewhat misleading. Of the two or three hundred relevant candidates we receive, maybe 20 or so will make it onto the program. So for the purposes of those reading the EA Forum (who one would imagine are somewhat or very involved in EA) the likelihood of getting into the later rounds of the application process are actually pretty good.
I will add, however, that it's a little difficult to communicate around this topic. On the one hand we want to ensure people know that it's highly competitive; on the other, we don't want to discourage people. Furthermore, each recent round of applications has been really quite different, so it's not easy to generalize or lay out probabilities.
What we are confident about is that if we could find more excellent candidates we would be able to start more excellent charities. Our experience is that it makes a huge difference to find particularly well suited candidates. They tend to go on to start exceptionally effective organizations.
How many more top charity ideas do you think you will find over the next few years?
Just letting you know of The Letten Prize in case you know anyone under 45 who's done relevant work in Global Health & Development and might wish to spend a few minutes sending in an application. As I understand it, the prize recognises past achievements, so there's no work to hand in before the deadline.
Prize money: 2,5 MNOK (~235 000 USD).
Deadline: February 6th, 2023.
Applicants last year: 50.
In 2018 you published a report (now deleted from the internet) that advocated for reducing human populations in the third world in order to reduce meat consumption. This was criticised by several people, both for ignoring flow-through effects (like existential risks, wild animal suffering, or long run growth, or population ethics) and for seeming dishonest about your true motivations / resembling eugenics. In the replies you mentioned neglecting these concerns, even though they had caused others to reach the opposite conclusion, because of time limitations... (read more)
Hi Larks! A lot to unpack here but in general, we only decided to start a family planning organization after we concluded that it also has a positive near-term effect on human well-being, and when it comes to long-term, very uncertain flow-through effects, we don’t strongly take them into account for any of the interventions we evaluate because they are too uncertain, but we gladly will when more evidence is available. I will address your specific points below.
First of all, just a clarification here, we are not focusing on reducing human populations to start with, but on reducing suffering and increasing well-being. Also, we did not assume that it would be an advocacy for reducing human populations in the third world specifically. As the summary at the top says: “The interven... (read more)
Umm, there is a lot going on here.
Is this view that this "resembles eugenics" your personal view? Because I can’t find this claim in your linked comments besides Ben Millwood’s feelings that this could produce negative reactions.
Millwood’s concerns are fine and welcome, but your comment seems much much stronger. Do we want to encourage a norm that stops discussions/projects, because in a contrived, remote way, these could lead to people slipping in implausible, extremely negative associations (often to the disadvantage of conservative viewpoints, since the coastal left is heavily over represented in EA?)
You say the initial presentation of the idea is “dishonest”, but it’s not clear why? You state their agenda is the mission of reducing animal su... (read more)
Roughly how many applications do you expect to receive for the incubation programme, and how many progress to each round of the selection process? What are the main reasons why people do or don't progress?
Do you provide training on fundraising methods, besides the preparation of a funding proposal as one of the culminating activities? For example, do you cover any core skills or tactics that might help build a broader community of smaller donors, or does CE favour fundraising from a small number of donors with very high giving capacity? Thanks!
Charity Entrepreneurship identified many ways to use entrepreneurship to improve the world, but decided to focus specifically in charities.
Are you aware of any organization equivalent to CE but focused on identifying for-profit entrepreneurship opportunities aligned with EA values and goals, and supporting EA for-profit entrepreneurs? I’m not sure if the concept makes sense, but I’m curious to understand if there is anyone already working on it.
Thanks again for your time!
As not every incubatee of the program starts a charity, could you provide some information on the procedure for further selection of founders, if any, during the program? Information regarding other processes that lead to this outcome would be helpful too.
How well do you think EA deals with disagreements between large groups of EAs. How would you fix this, if you had a magic wand and weren't allowed to fix actual cause areas?
I read in your post Region-Specific Impactful Charity Groundwork - a New Way to Join the CE Incubation Program from 2020 that you presented the possibility to work on region specific research.
How did it go? How many people worked on this? Was there any particular region starting the region-specific research program?
Is it possible to apply for this regional research option on the 2023 programs?
If one were to enter the incubation program; could they request a certain mentor or is the process purely test based?
I love your research process and how you present it in a very transparent and simple way. I appreciate the fact that you share publicly the result of Stage 6: Deep Dive in the form of high-quality research reports for the top 2-4 charity ideas.
Have you ever considered publishing also some conclusions of the exploratory stages 1-5?
I understand a lot of the information will be in informal unstructured notes, but I guess there might be valuable information that is easy to share (for example a list of all ideas considered at each stage).
Your process to improve the world is based on two steps:
Have you ever considered replacing step 2 by “working with existing charities so that they include the idea in their portfolio”?
Is it worthwhile for an individual with an established EA-Aligned org idea to apply for the incubation program, seeing as: 1) this diverges from CE's modus operandi (at least to my mind) wherein interventions are researched, determined, and then matched to potential founders; and 2) there would be a significant time-lag (from now until February) in which the project could be significantly developed without incubation?
Thanks a lot!
Could you perhaps shed some light on considerations, if any, made to better suit candidates and incubatees from non-European countries, given that there are many neglected ( & potentially high-impact) cause and intervention areas outside of Europe?
What are the team's hottest takes?
I genuinely want things that you think it's slightly impolitic to say, because I think sometimes we overly suppress that kind of discourse on the forum.
I think there are a few things that fit into this category, how much deference is in the EA space would be one. Another would be the relative importance of high-absorbency career paths. Some things we have not written about but also fit would be how EA deals with low evidence base/feedback loop spaces. Or how little skepticism is applied to EA meta charities.