Research Manager @ ERA (Existential Risk Alliance, Cambridge)
220 karmaJoined Jul 2022Working (0-5 years)



Thanks for writing this Amber! 2 quick points on the "comparing oneself negatively/being star-struck" theme:

  1. It is so easy to forget that sometimes we are the people that other people look up to in that way ("Ohhhh, it's Amber Dawn, I see her comments so much on the Forum, she must really know a lot and be quite courageous, too"). It's also worth remembering that as long as we only look upwards, there is always someone smarter/more experienced/more powerful, all the way up to that one person that gets to actually enjoy the conference without these nagging thoughts. Except, wait! Plot twist: They probably think that way about someone else at the conference.

  2. Somewhat ironically, if you are someone who suffers from this, going to conferences can actually help! You'll see Nobel prize winners lose their train of thought in a public speech. You'll see billionaires tripping over their own feet. You'll see CEOs ask students for directions to their speaker's lounge. You'll see if only briefly that they are also human, after all.

(or, in the slightly less elegant but undeniably more succinct words of a former colleague of mine: "These people sht and pss just like we do")


I think this is mostly true, but doesn't seem to take into account that it is possible (I claim) and not unlikely (I speculate) that people develop a passion for something while they work on it. So I would still want people to try their hand at things that might not intuitively seem super appealing to them, ideally with cheap tests and iterative depth.

Answer by MvKApr 29, 202320

LEEP ( comes to mind, although they are still a very young organisation so less established than bigger organisations in this space. Their cost-effectiveness looks great, though, if that's what you mostly care about. They advocate for policies to limit the exposure to toxic lead (e.g. in paint).


Hi Jonathan! I currently work for ERA as a Cause Area Lead. While nothing is certain in this world, I would say there is a very good chance we will be running this or a highly similar program again next summer. :)

Answer by MvKMar 24, 20231210

My impression is that if people work on weekends or after hours, it's often because they want to - I personally find it very exciting and gratifying to be able to contribute to other EA projects in my free time and interact with so many altruistic, like-minded people! I have rarely heard of this being a hard expectation though.

If anything, the EA community is more encouraging of people taking time off and taking care of their mental health because we want people to have more impact in the long-run rather than have burnout and basically 0 impact after that.

Lastly, my sense is this depends heavily on the role. As a charity entrepreneur, you might need to work longer hours especially in the beginning, but there are plenty of "normal jobs" out there where time is tracked and overtime is the exception, not the rule. :)

P. S. : Reach out to me if you want to chat about this or would like some support. ❤️


Hi Kyle! You might be mixing this up with CE's Incubation Program, which does focus on creating new charities. The Foundation Program does not, as is explained in the write-up linked above.

CE is very prolific on the Forum lately so maybe you've seen of their other posts?

[Disclaimer: I've worked with CE before and am a current Incubatee, but have never done any work on the Foundations Program. Send me a DM if you want me to put you in touch with some of the people who have]


Hi Lizka! I'm a current Incubatee, but applied back in Spring 2022, so I do fall into this group Ula is describing. Feel free to DM me with any questions you have!


Exciting, thanks for sharing!

(Minor nitpick: the CEA travel grant policy Doc you link to is the old one, which has since been updated, so you might wanna change that!)


Adding some data to this: 

When I sent an email to the email address mentioned above, I received a well-meaning automated reply. 

However, it contained the following part, which I don't think we should lead with:

In the meantime, why not check out some fun facts about Effective Altruism? Did you know that by donating to charity, you can save a life for as little as $3.33? Or that some of the most effective ways to make a positive impact are also some of the most unexpected?

This is inaccurate at best and deceiving and harmful at worst - and it's even debunked by the very link you follow this up with![1]

  1. ^

    The CEA website mentions the more commonly used number of 5,500$. 

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