Ben Williamson

Co-Founder @ Maternal Health Initiative
1186 karmaJoined May 2021Working (0-5 years)Edinburgh, UK


Director of Partnerships and Field Operations for the Maternal Health Initiative (, a global health charity training healthcare workers in lower-income contexts on family planning counseling.

I co-founded MHI in September 2022 out of the Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Programme.

Prior to that, I founded Effective Self-Help ( a research organisation studying the most effective ways people can improve their wellbeing and productivity. 


Effective Self Help


[disclosure: I work for a family planning organisation (MHI), these views are my own].

It’s eminently reasonable to hold philosophical views that call into the question the work of an organisation such as FEM.

I worry though that it’s somewhat against the spirit of EA and worldview diversity to suggest that donations to other charities may be more appropriate based on views that are not consistently shared across the community?

Is there not the risk of a double-standard here given people with person-affecting views may view donations to a good number of longtermist projects as a harmful misallocation of resources by prioritising future lives over present ones?

I'd love to see this as a short post of its own at some point, such a great explanation!

Note: Quick thoughts written whilst on the train.

I've received three grants from the EA Infrastructure Fund to start and develop Effective Self-Help so I can hopefully offer some useful thoughts here.

I think personal finance questions are difficult as there's likely significant variation between countries and personal circumstances. For me specifically, I'm listed as an independent contractor on my grant agreements and have full responsibility for filing my taxes in the UK as a self-employed individual. 
I've found the EA Infrastructure Fund to be generous in their salary offers and I think a good part of this is to account for pensions, health insurance, taxes, etc. that you'll have to cover within that salary. I can't speak for any of the fund managers but would guess from my interactions that they would be quite happy to pay an extra 10-20% in salary if that was likely to make a difference to the productivity of the grantee and the sustainability of the project. 

For long-term career planning, I fit snugly into the bucket of people who took a grant to fast-track skills and knowledge growth while being in an early part of my career. I think working on an independent project provides a host of valuable skills and likely additional exposure that can compensate for the additional psychological stress of lacking long-term employment stability. Certainly that's easier to say as someone with minimal direct responsibilities outside of my own wellbeing.

If it's helpful to anyone, happy to chat in more depth about these topics with anyone thinking seriously about working on an EA grant - just shoot me a message!

Cheers for this! Think I’d skimmed the top of that thread and missed the last reply you highlighted.

Looks a little clunky but worth adding.


And yes, I completely agree that a voting system would be a nice addition. To the best of my knowledge and research, I couldn’t find any way of doing this through Airtable.

Would happily add this though if someone can tell me how.

Thanks for flagging this. It does seem from this that I've oversold the potential value quite significantly! I'll add a note to the section to flag this comment and that this doesn't appear to be as helpful as hoped.

I've worked on this full-time thanks to the grant, so sadly not much in the way of helpful tips. 

The only rough point I can offer here is that I took the job as a waiter last summer (2021) quite intentionally. This allowed me to work 30-35 hours over 3 days, enough to cover my living costs and leave me 4 days free. One of these days was always lost to full slug-mode tiredness/ recovery, but then I'd have 3 days clear - of which 2 I'd try to treat as fairly full-time idea/ pitch development time. 

I think this was a pretty effective method in helping me consistently spend time working on project ideas and culminated in my application to EAIF after about 3-4 months of this (I worked on a bunch of ideas before properly pursuing ESH).

This makes sense and seems pretty plausible. Can speak to personal experience of the intensity of the sun in Australia!

Appreciate these thoughts. We're planning a more tailored model for our upcoming procrastination report (find the category that seems to best fit the cause of your procrastination and then skip to the solutions that fit best with that category) - might be a little more along the lines of what you're suggesting here.

(also a general thank you for leaving detailed feedback on things like this - genuinely very helpful)

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