Chairperson of the Czech EA Association, CFAR alumna and mentor. Experienced career coach.

Wiki Contributions


Announcing the Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship

This is a great initiative! I just want to point out that if this is aimed at international students, it is quite difficult to accurately estimate their GPA. Also, they would not need to do for UK applications. You will be able to understand their academic performance from the transcript but requiring a GPA may not give you the information you are looking for.

AMA: Lewis Bollard, Open Philanthropy

Hi Lewis, since this is AMA, this one is not EA related.

I've spend most of my teenage and college years as a competitive international debater. How do you look back at your debate experience? The good and the bad. Would you recommend that EAs (and more people in general) take up debate? Or would you rather see it be replaced with some other form of structured discussion?

Also, the WUDC finals are one of my favorite competitive debates of all time, I would often use it when coaching my teams. I'd love to hear your take on it. What was it like for you to prop a topic which was already quite broadly opposed in society (making abortion illegal)? And what was going through your mind when you heard James present their definition and approach (that a fetus may very well be alive since conception but the mother has a right to kill it regardless)?

Boundaries of Empathy and Their Consequences

In my experience is not so much that they person does not grasp the ethical argument through empathy, many people do. The reason they do not change their behaviour is mostly because it is normalized in society. People do not usually realize it in the moment and so it is not what you would often hear as an answer but uppon reflection, that is what many vegetarians realize - they did understand they were acting wrong but it seemed like it was not a big deal because everyone was doing it.

Structure EA organizations as WSDNs?

I do not have experience with WSDNs but based on your description, the Czech Association for EA seems to have this model. The structure is such that people sign up to be members, members elect leadership and leadership reports back to the members.

The biggest difference seems to be that our members are not only employees but volunteers or general supporters.

What's the median amount a grantmaker gives per year?

I do not know this article but here are my thoughts on this problem, having worked at a private foundation myself.

The amount of money awarded per staff lies on a scale. On one end a foundation could just make 1 massive grant a year to one organization. On the other end, make millions of super small grants. As organizations navigate this scale from one extreme to the other, in my experience these are some of their considerations:

  • Diversifying the portfolio of grants - if one does not succeed, there are still many to possibly have high impact
  • Limited expertise of staff
  • Limited responsibility of staff - it seems that more staff are a better system of checks and balances where corruption or poor judgement are discovered easily
  • Field saturation - in my foundation, there were certain areas that we have kind of already funded to what we believed was their maximum potential. If we suddenly had twice the money, we would not have given it to the same area. We would need to research and justify a new cause area.
  • Ultimately, I think that there is a sense of "wanting to know something the others do not know" or being original in some way. One could have a foundation that simply funds high quality proposals that were not funded simply due to lack of resources by other funders. Super efficient, just needs a small grants and operations team. Yet, it lacks mission and is generally unappealing to the board and founders.

Who in EA enjoys managing people?
Answer by IrenaKApr 11, 201913

Me. But also a TON of people outside of the community. I have been a storng advocate for EA orgs hiring outside of the community for senior management roles.

After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation

Thank you for putting all of this together, I think it is a very useful post. I spent many years career coaching and advising people who were applying for jobs and I always stress this:

If you are not landing the job you want it is because of two main reasons:

a) You are not applying for the right jobs for you (you may be underqualified, overqualified, transitioning fields etc.)

b) Or you are in fact very well qualified but you are not good at presenting those qualifications to others, especially in a limited time and space.

Have you received any kind of feedback that would help you understand which was more common for you? If you think your case is a) then you need to find a different set of jobs to apply to - not better or worse, just different. If it is more b) then you may want to work on making sure that the reasons why you know you would be good at the job you are applying to translate into your resume, cover letter, interview etc.

I actually think it is quite common for people in the EA community to find themselves at a) because the jobs that are available to our community are very limited in numbers and scope. I think we need to expand the way we think about EA careers such that more people can find jobs that they enjoy which are also impactful.

You may also find yourself in b) because of cultural differences and bias. For example the job market in the US is very competitive and everyone is used to extremely inflating their resume and presenting themselves very confidently - which is not typical in some parts of Europe or Asia. Many recruiters and hiring managers also have bias against foreign applicants so part of the task is to present your qualities such that they come across accurately even at this disadvantage.