2736Łódź, PolskaJoined Apr 2018


Karolina is co-founder and Director of Programs at Charity Entrepreneurship. She also serves as a Fund Manager at the EA Animal Welfare Fund, and as a board member and consultant for various EA nonprofits and think tanks.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karolinasarek/


EAGxIndia was wonderful! I went to many conferences over the last couple of years, and I have to say that EAGx in India had the warmest, kindest and most comfortable, and welcoming vibe; and all of that on top of being impactful. Huge congratulations and gratitude toward the organizers! :) 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply that to past applicants as it relays on filling out the assessment that we only created and implemented now. However, If you are interested, you can apply to the program now (the deadline is on the 10th of November), fill out the R1 test and just make a note that you want to get feedback. We wouldn't like people to do it massively as it really makes our job harder to know who is actually applying vs who is there just for the assessment but in a couple of cases, it should be fine. :) Another thing that we do is compile reasons why someone got far and yet hasn't been selected and then make a post about it - it is not individualized but aggregates the most common reasons and we've heard many people found it helpful. Here and here are the posts if you're interested. We will keep exploring other options as well. Thanks! 

Needless to say, when you're surveying 7 people they have reason to be concerned that they'll be identifiable from their responses. I will be abstaining from providing details shared with me from the past charity starter including their main concerns because I'm not in a position to judge if they'd be identifiable from that, but would encourage you to collect such feedback. I think it's safe enough to say that they weren't from the most recent cohort

That makes sense - if you could encourage them to reach out to me we would be extremely interested in their feedback. I agree that such feedback is very valuable. We collect feedback throughout and immediately after the program from everyone who participated. This is the main way we improve the program for future years. It’s not perfect, nothing is, but we are always trying to get better. 

Re non discriminatory hiring, I don't think the 'we have neurodivergent staff' angle is the way to go (ala 'my best friend is black' response) - you might just be selecting for neurodivergence in the same direction. 

Sorry if I wasn’t clear…. what I was trying to say is that if we have a fairly neurodiverse staff and groups of participants, both of whom had to go through the hiring process, that is evidence that the process doesn’t systematically filter them out. 

For that reason, there is merit in say deferring to a resume and work experience which can illustrate that sometimes. Other times, selecting people more generously then ensuring you have good enough training systems to develop them up to do a good job is what you should focus on - suddenly apparent talent bottlenecks looks like a training capability skills gap.

We do put some weight in CVs and work experience and we also think it’s important to look for additional data. We feel that deferring solely to resumes or work experience could bias against some candidates. For example, younger or candidates who have had fewer opportunities in life may otherwise have very good predispositions. As we often say, we look for potential. We think that if we judged based primarily on CVs, that would filter out a lot of people who could do amazing work in the future, but just haven’t had the chance to prove themselves yet. 

Ultimately we want to find great people and help them do great things. We’re definitely not perfect and both the individuals in our team and our processes can, and we hope, will, continue to improve. We’re always open to updating and if there are evidence-based practices out there, that we can learn from or adopt, we’re all ears. Again please send them to judith@charityentrepreneurship.com 

Hi Maith! We implemented a new system that gives every applicant automated feedback in the form of a short report. That happens after the first round of application. This feedback will be automatically generated based on the responses you gave in the assessment. We are still figuring out how we can give feedback to applicants at the later stages of the application, but basically this system ensures that everyone who applies gets some info on how they scored on each trait, what that means, and occasionally gives some guidance on how to improve those as well. 

We have had founders from outside the EA community. “EA-ness” isn’t something we explicitly filter for, rather we look for traits such as being impact-focused, ambitiously altruistic, having strong epistemics etc. Those traits are, on average, more common in EA candidates, but if someone who is not part of the EA movement has those traits they will do well in our process. The only exception was when we had a year on EA meta charities, then being involved and knowledgeable about EA was necessary.  

The people that Steve refers to in the quoted sentence are more “spammy” people- those who just seem to apply to every job, or who obviously don’t know what we do, eg., they think we are a grantmaker and they want to get funding for their very non-effective project. 

So in your example of people from the international development community, if they have all the traits that matter but are just not a part of the EA community, I think they would make great candidates. 

Hi! Thanks for the feedback and for sharing your concerns. I agree that it is a good idea to get a sense of the program from past incubatees. Our incubatees often attend EAGs, so that is a good opportunity and we always encourage that. That being said, I’m surprised by what you say. To explain why, I copied results from a survey conducted after the most recent program in 2022:

Charity Incubation Program:

Foundation Program:

As you can see, people are generally very positive about the experience. When we analyze the reasons why someone applied, one of the most common answers is because they talked with a CE incubatee and they gave a glowing review. In fact, we have had people who decided to participate in the program twice, and people who didn’t get in the first time, so they upskilled, applied again, got in and started a great charity. 
When we look at the data from earlier years, there was one person who scored it 3/7, so maybe you came across that person. As they explained in the survey, the reason for that was that very early in the program they decided to not start a charity and therefore the rest of the program wasn’t a good fit. We of course would love to know why the incubatee was critical. If you would like to pass that feedback on to us, you can either DM me on the forum or email me at karolina@charityentreprenuership.com and the program and application team will have a look at that. 
In general, we improve the program and the application each year (e.g., we now offer financial stipends during and after the program, and adjust content based on feedback from participants), and we are always open to suggestions. 

I think it is a cool idea to publish various quantitative data from post-program surveys, thanks for the idea!

Because of the above, and that it requires a 2 month initial commitment with no guaranteed future, for which the opportunity cost for someone building career capital or in full time employment is high, I have not applied.

We try to help participants as much as possible - we offer a financial stipend not only during the program, but also a bit before and after, so it is not a financial burden for them. The majority of people start a charity and receive seed funding after the program. In the most recent program, all but one person started a charity and received generous seed grants. The one person who didn’t was offered a job at CE and will join the next program again. In previous years, the participants found that they have many more EA job opportunities and better career prospects after the program than before - often, they have multiple job offers from EA-aligned organizations that they didn’t have before. I think it is different if someone wants to come back to the corporate world or work in a non-EA institution, where I think something like participation in the CE IP will be a weaker signal. If you have further suggestions on how we can support people post program, let us know. 

Finally, the application process is rather rigid and does not seem open to outliers, neurodiverse applicants (relative to those who apply) who might not fit your mold but might otherwise be good founders.

I agree that our application process is rather rigid, we have been optimizing it over the years. When it comes to neurodivergent candidates, a couple of members of the CE team are neurodivergent, including staff in leadership positions and in the program vetting team. We have had a couple of participants in the program who were non-neurotypical as well. I would be extremely surprised if the process systematically filtered out people based on their neurodiversity. However, if there are any adjustments we can make to the process to accommodate individual applicant needs that emerge from their neurotype, we are happy to do it. In that case, just email Judith, our vetting specialist and she will discuss accommodating the process, her email is judith@charityentreprenuership.com 

Unfortunately, we don’t have the data compiled yet in a format that is easy to share, but I will put that on our list of things to publish in the future. But a couple of specific indicators: 

  • There is no significant correlation between age of the participant/experience and charity success. 
  • When we surveyed incubatees who had prior experience to establish how much they apply/use their prior knowledge vs how much they apply what they learned during the program or during running their charity, they say much more often that they regularly apply the charity-specific learning. 
  • We also found that “experts” - people with significant experience and credentials in a given cause area/charity idea, do not systematically outperform people who are new to the field but have other traits (e.g., being entrepreneurial or super impact-focused in the EA sense). 

And there is also a practical element to it - often EA-type charities are very, very specific (because of how the impact of charity ideas is distributed) and therefore there is no experience/background you can get that will be as relevant to your organization as actually running the organization, e.g., there is no degree in shrimp welfare in Vietnamese or Indian farming systems :P If you are curious about that case in particular, Andres, Co-founder of Shrimp Welfare Project recently interviewed with Rob and talked about his experience.

I agree with Rob that forgone impact is also an additional (very important) benefit of starting the organization earlier. 

But I'd expect people who start a charity earlier rather than seeking additional training first to be systematically different — to start with they're evidently more confident about their prospects, and that may be an indicator of higher underlying competence or enthusiasm

Yes, I think that’s plausible, but we haven’t found a significant correlation between confidence and charity success either. So even though higher confidence could contribute to the decision to start earlier, it will not necessarily show in charity outcomes. That being said, I also expect there to be a difference between people who start a charity without any support vs. the applicant to the CE program who knows that they will receive training, mentorship etc.,  and therefore, smoothing out the distribution of confidence in our sample, so the applicant-traits effect may be stronger in independent founders. 

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: 

  • FTX offers funding for new organizations, and EA Funds also often seed new projects, I suspect that both founders could also help with advice and connections to relevant people, 
  • Sometimes they are efforts to incubate specific organizations, e.g. civilizational refuges (SHELTER weekend announcement and report from the retreat),
  • Rethink Priorities and Effective Ventures are offering operational support for new projects.

Outside EA there is also Skoll which offers support for social enterprises and FastForward for tech nonprofits, but I have mixed views about them as they are clearly not EA-focuses and I don't know enough about the incubation part. In global health and development, there is D-Prize, but they mostly offer funding and not an incubation. 

There is also a for-profit & social enterprise route and here you will find tons of incubators, although usually outside of the EA sphere. I personally think that Entrepreneur First is great and we learned from them when we were just starting up. I also know of some EA folks scoping opportunities to start EA for-profit incubator.  

We once gave a talk titled: “Impactful opportunities around and adjacent to charity entrepreneurship” you can watch the recording here. 

As we mentioned in another response: 
We start with ~3000 applications and only accept a small number. It may seem like the odds are low, however lots of people apply via the initial form, but after  that the odds become more reasonable and you would find yourself up against numbers closer to 300. The stats for EAs are also pretty high (about 5x more likely to be successful relative to non-EA applications). If you get to interview one, you may be among 50-100 other people. At test task two, among 20-50. We’ve tried to make the first two rounds valuable and worth the effort even if someone doesn’t progress. Round one will give you feedback on your fit and strengths. Round two will enable you to compare and contrast your career options. 

We also published a blog post on most common reasons people don’t get into the Incubation Program here.
For the majority of candidates they are:
- Own idea being weaker than top recommendations,
- Limited experience running independent projects,
- Weak test tasks,
- Low flexibility
For the strongest candidates they are:
- Lack of competitive advantage,
- Complicating factors,
- Riks of low co-founder compatibility,
- Charity entrepreneurship not being a top choice

We start with ~3000 applications and only accept a small number. It may seem like the odds are low, however: 

  • Lots of people apply via the initial form, but after that the odds become more reasonable and you would find yourself up against numbers closer to 300. The stats for EAs are also pretty high (about 5x more likely to be successful relative to non-EA applications).
  • If you get to interview one, you may be among 50-100 other people
  • At test task two, among 20-50.

We’ve tried to make the first two rounds valuable and worth the effort even if you don’t progress. Round one will give you feedback on your fit and strengths. Round two will enable you to compare and contrast your career options. 

The upside of applying (we believe) is high, and combined with the feedback you’ll get, there is good reason to put yourself forward. We try to be very careful not to waste anyone’s time. 

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