All of imben's Comments + Replies

Starting a Small Charity to Give Grants

Rather than setting up a charity, a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is a good option for this purpose. This post may be helpful:

1deluks91712dThis would have been way better than holding everything in my individual account. But it doesn't let you make 'grants' to individuals. We need something like a smaller version of EA Funds.
7MichaelStJules12dI think they can only disburse to other charities, not individuals.
What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship

Hi Ryan, I may be misunderstanding the question so correct me if I'm wrong - are you saying something like: "given that there's lots of uncertainty about what's needed this seems in tension with starting an organisation that concentrates on only one user type (e.g. recent generalist graduate) or one domain (e.g. AI Safety)"?

What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship

Thanks, great questions! In response: 

1) How come you choose to run the fellowship as a part-time rather than full-time program?

We wanted to test some version of this quickly, part time meant:

  • It was easier to get a cohort of people to commit at short notice as they could participate alongside other commitments
  • We could deliver a reasonable quality stripped back programme in a short space of time and had more capacity to test other ideas at the same time

With that said, if we were to run it again, we almost certainly would have explored running a full-ti... (read more)

What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship

Hi Rory, thanks for the comment! We haven’t published those ideas. In terms of classes of organisation, one way to carve up the space is to think about Object-level and Meta-level approaches to generating ideas.

Object-level approaches focus on doing direct work to solve the problem at hand. For example:

  • developing and deploying technologies
  • conducting research
  • advocating for policy change

The main type of impact here comes in the form of tangible changes in actions taken in the real world, in whatever form that might take.

Meta-level approaches focus on improvi... (read more)

What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship

Glad to hear!

Roughly this would mean having worked in a relevant area (e.g. bio, AI safety) for at least 1 - 2 years and able to contribute in some capacity to that field. To be clear, some ideas would require a lot more experience - this is just a rough proxy.

What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship

A quick thought  on having a YC-style programme and taking risks on more junior talent:

Domain expertise is important - I think YC would agree on this. If taking on a deep tech startup they would look for someone on the team who had domain expertise in the field.

I think early YC Internet startups like Dropbox or Airbnb make it look like domain expertise is less important and it’s more about just getting stuck in. The difference is that when Dropbox started there was no expert in “files on the internet” so the founders could basically become the world e... (read more)

What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship

Hey Jamie - Ben Clifford here, thanks for flagging this.

I think your second bullet captures the idea well. I don’t think being good at EA community building and associated ideas requires deep domain expertise in areas like AI or Bio.

There would be an argument for thinking about bullet 3 as well but it wasn’t what I was thinking.

Announcing "Naming What We Can"!

Toby Ordering is really good.

How we promoted EA at a large tech company (v2.0)

Haha, thanks for the hat tip! Delighted with this outcome! Well done!

EA Updates for February 2020

Love reading these David - thanks.

Was particularly interested to read the Anthropocene article - cool to read conservationists taking EA approach seriously and seeing it as a way to unlock more funding.

How we promoted EA at a large tech company

This is awesome - thanks for writing up!

For people working in the UK and keen to do something like this, I'd love to chat:

We launched an employee giving tool ( which promotes recommended charities from GiveWell and Founders Pledge's research.

Effective Altruism London Strategy 2019

Do “software for good” have a online presence? Hadn’t heard of them and would be interested to read more. Thanks!

1DavidNash2yThere is a Facebook group and a small page on the website [].
Conversation on forecasting with Vaniver and Ozzie Gooen

Is there a copy of the audio available? Sorry if I missed an obvious link!

2jacobjacob2yI'm unfortunately only publishing the transcript at this time. The audio contains some sections that were edited out for privacy reasons.
Can/should we define quick tests of personal skill for priority areas?

Really cool idea. If this were possible would we expect to see big companies using similar tests to recruit undergraduates early before competitors do?

Does giving to charity make it more likely you‘ll be altruistic in future?

Super useful - thanks David. An interesting implication for EA fundraisers might be then to avoid quantifying achievements e.g. “you’ve just saved 10 lives with your donation”. Perhaps you’d want to say something like: “your commitment to helping others is fantastic”.

Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities

This seems high compared to the startup equivalent. For example, I know at Entrepreneur First they take on 100 people and they form about 20 companies - don’t know how many get seed funded but 50% seems too high.

2Joey3yI would guess a lot of this depends on the number of people you take on. (e.g. if we took 20 people I do not expect we would get 2-6 effective charities.) I also would guess the odds of effective charities being founded if it was not picked from our pre-researched list would be much lower, something closer to 1/10 - 1/20. Our estimates are mostly based on our experience with charities we have founded/supported in a pretty similar way to the above. I also am unsure how to generalize from for-profit to nonprofit space. I generally think the former is much more competitive.
The last 3 months in EA projects

Yes, it's still ongoing. We had our second meetup last night. Sign up for email updates on events here:

The Value of Starting a Giving What We Can/EA Chapter

Maybe I was being too negative in counting the chapters that make a go of trying and then end up fizzling out. If you manage to run a year of events with consistent effort then perhaps getting one or two pledges is fair.

3-5 is higher than when I was working with chapters, but great that it's that high now.

Yep, completely agree with the overarching point. Keep up the top work.

The Value of Starting a Giving What We Can/EA Chapter

I'm a big fan of starting new chapters as I've discussed with Jon.

Just thought I'd flag that this seemed over optimistic:

"we think it is reasonable to expect a new Giving What We Can Chapter to produce 3-5 new members in their first year"

In my experience of working with GWWC chapters the median chapter produced 0 members a year because it's hard to get things off the ground. Even the chapters who are putting a lot of effort in do well to get 1 or 2 people to pledge.

I don't say this to undermine the article - I think the points can still apply if ... (read more)

2jonathancourtney7yA good point! The 3-5 number averages over a number of chapters, many of whom have been running for several years and are well established, and so is likely on the optimistic side. I absolutely agree with your point that if your chapter produces 1 pledge, that is an amazing achievement that should be congratulated! That said, I don't think it is right to say that the median chapter produces 0 pledges a year- most chapters which start up and run a successful first year on average result in at least one or two pledges. I should also note that my analysis ignores any flow-through effects of those people at the university who become interested in EA from the chapter's activity- these are likely also quite large although harder to calculate! All that being said- the important common ground here is that chapters are awesome, and any chapters which get even a single pledge are doing a very good job!
Open thread 5

Is there an audio recording of Holden's "Altruistic Career Choice Conference call"? If so, can someone point me in the right direction. I'm aware of the transcript: