This is the 6th post in the Working At EA Organizations series. The posts so far:
The following are my notes from an interview with Joey Savoie which he reviewed before publishing.
About Charity Science
Broadly speaking, Charity Science does fundraising for GiveWell-recommended charities. Their aim is to raise more than they spend and would have been able to move in other ways.
A breakdown of the current projects and other info about Charity Science can be found here. The work can broadly be divided into the very successful proven projects (peer-to-peer fundraisers such as donating one’s birthday and Christmas) and experimental projects such as legacy fundraising and the new Skeptics for Charity project. Some new experimental projects will be chosen in 2016.
Current talent needs
This position is currently open and will stay so over the course of 2016 until a suitable applicant is found. The standards are high as you would effectively replace Joey himself or one of the senior management staff. The job description can be found here. If you have at least 60% of the following, it’s worth applying since you might be the strongest applicant.
In this role you'd be managing one to five people, fundraising from non-EAs and communicating efficiently with organizations such as GiveWell and their top charities.
A significant difference from some jobs in the EA community is that you can demonstrate your fit by doing volunteer tasks first, even if you can’t yet show that you fit the criteria below. The interview process will also be a quite important way of showing that you possess the necessary qualities, so don’t be discouraged by this long list of requirements:
Very good verbal and written communication skills; e.g. does well at promoting EA charities at a networking event or could write an article in the Huffington Post.
Management experience would be very useful - you would manage a team of 1-5 people.
Very deep understanding of EA; able to debate between different causes and charities with non-EAs. Highly familiar with Charity Science’s and GiveWell’s poverty-focused research.
Highly dedicated to EA and very altruistic since you’ll be joining a team of very committed EAs.
Being familiar with animal rights and being veg*an would be a plus.
Able to break a project down into smaller tasks, delegate and work autonomously
Being able to move to Vancouver is a plus, but remote work is possible.
Very rigorous, highly evidence-based GiveWell classic-style epistemology
If you’re a great fit but lacking management experience, you can probably be trained up.
One of the best ways te demonstrate your fit for this position is by volunteering or interning for Charity Science first. In general, the closer your experience comes to what you’ll be doing on the job (content-wise and process-wise), the better. Other ways to get noticed include:
Shown ability to learn relevant things quickly, especially interpersonal skills such as public speaking.
Having successfully worked in a team is good, having led one is better and if the project was related to EA or fundraising that’s even better. Having interned (or worked) at an organisation with a similar philosophy, such as GiveWell, would be perfect.
A history of donating a large share of your income
Interested in animal rights or veg*anism would indicate a better fit with the team
Well-known in the EA movement or could get endorsements from other trustable EAs
Closely following Charity Science and GiveWell’s global-poverty research
Tasks for this position include administrative work such as working with Quickbooks (accounting software), running taxes, and editing documents. It’s likely possible to find a non-EA for this position, so I’ll only include the link to the job description. For an EA, this could be a good way to get involved with EA organizations without the need for particular qualifications.
How can you get involved on a lower commitment basis?
Internship & Volunteering
Volunteering and intern positions at Charity Science are much more open and follow a progressive model. You’ll first get easier tasks and then increasingly difficult ones until you reach a level that fully matches your current skill level. However, your interest and reliability are most important. Some tasks that have been done by volunteers in the past are:
Running a birthday fundraiser (easy)
Researching a fundraising intervention such as celebrity fundraising or a poverty-reducing intervention (more advanced)
Consulting a charity that has asked for advice (more advanced)
Participate in Charity Science’s strategic decisions and getting on the board (most advanced level)
More potential tasks can be found here.
To start volunteering, simply email email@example.com. As noted above, this is one of the best ways to get noticed even if you don’t fit the exact job profile. One of the strongest hires started as a volunteer. An intern is simply a volunteer who works at least 5 hours per week over a few months. Currently internships are unpaid.
What's the application process like?
Firstly, you get in contact via the Charity Science website or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s possible to ask questions before you send in the CV and motivation.
The application process has been described by some as the most fun one they’ve been through. There’ll be a written question which you answer and send in along with your CV. The question has the most weight. This will be followed by 1 or 2 interviews with more interesting thought experiments, personality and epistemology questions and little tasks.
Joey has allowed me to put the written question here so you can apply straight from this post:
“You have a team of yourself and 3 other staff and your goal is to fundraise as much as possible for our evidence-based recommended charities. What strategies would you employ? You can use any resources on our website or from elsewhere for your answer.”
If you get through the interviews, there’ll be a probationary period of 1-2 months. 100% of EAs got the job afterwards so far.
For the administrative role, the process will be focused more on tasks such as quickly figuring out a new software.
At what yearly donation would you prefer a marginal hire to earn to give for you instead of directly working for you?
For the admin position US$ 5,000 with a range of $5,000 to $20,000 and for the communications role $100,000 with a range of 50,000$ to 200,000$. Joey has put some thought into this and as a matter of fact, a previous applicant who could have donated US$ 50,000-70,000 per year opted to work for Charity Science instead.
Why work at Charity Science?
The basic selling point is that Charity Science can raise significantly more than $1 for GiveWell-recommended charities for each dollar spent on running Charity Science. Last year they’ve raised $9 for every dollar spent and this ratio could go up in the future. They will only hire you if they think this is the highest expected value thing for you to do, i.e. taking opportunity costs into account.
Charity Science is also, alongside GiveWell, the most rigorous and transparent about their work among the organizations in the EA community.
While the direct impact is the most important factor they offer a high variety of tasks and a level of autonomy that you wouldn’t get in a corporate job. As a result, the work is high in skill-building and exploration value.
You’d work in a startup atmosphere with flexible working hours and be located in the thriving EA hub Vancouver. There’s a strong social community with social EA events such as TED talk nights, raves, sport events, etc 3-4 times a week and 10 EAs living within a block. The people are quite intense about EA and the culture could help you intensify your own involvement. Charity Science helps you find accommodation and can put you in a house with other EAs if you wish.
A more detailed list of the benefits can be found in the job description for the communications role.