I want to share our review of 2017 and initial plans for 2018, which we have just posted to our blog. Below I share some of my high-level thoughts on our work this year, how our focus has changed, our plans for 2018 and our current funding situation. There is more on all of this in our post.
If you have questions or feedback on CEA’s work please comment on the forum post version of our update or reply to this email.
It has been a big year for CEA. We went through Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program, during which we created a new donation platform called EA Funds to help people donate more effectively. We launched EA Grants, which funded 21 projects in the EA community. We also ran three EA Global conferences to bring the community together.
As I’ve mentioned in past updates, we’ve also restructured this year. I am now CEO, Will is our president, and we’ve split our activities into five teams.
We’ve included more highlights from the year in our blog post.
Our mission is to
Create a global community of people who have made helping others a core part of their lives, and who use evidence and scientific reasoning to figure out how to do so as effectively as possible.
This is our mission because we believe that in order to solve the world’s most pressing problems and improve the world’s long-term trajectory we need a community of people working together.
Such a community needs the money, people, and ideas necessary to have an impact, as well as the ability to coordinate so that collectively we can achieve more than the sum of our parts.
Earlier in the year, we focused mainly on money. This was in part because our time at Y Combinator, with access to the advice of successful founders, seemed like the best place to build a product that focused on bringing more donations to effective cause areas. We still believe that having diversity in the sources of income in EA is important, which is why we run EA Funds and use the platform to support things like the newly-launched $100k donor lottery.
We currently believe, however, that the more prominent bottleneck for the EA community is in talent. It also seems plausible that the distribution of impact is “heavy-tailed,” meaning that a small number of people might provide a significant amount of the value that the community creates. This seems obvious when it comes to donations (for example, the money that Cari Tuna directs through Open Phil dwarves the money most of us can ever hope to donate). This pattern seems likely to be true for the impact of people’s research or other direct work as well.
This is why we have set up the Individual Outreach Team: to identify people within the effective altruism community who we expect will make significant contributions to important projects, and to help them to have a higher impact. This involves mentoring, providing individuals with grants and working with our Community Team to experiment with smaller events.
We have also been focusing more on supporting some of the larger, more established EA groups that seem to be having the biggest impact in getting people on board with EA ideas. We’ve been working with local groups to direct more people to 80,000 Hours coaching and go into direct work in high-impact fields.
We continue to focus on prioritization. We need to focus our efforts where we believe we can have the highest impact, but naturally, we have a lot of uncertainty about what those areas will turn out to be. It’s therefore important that we balance projects that could be extremely high-impact (like our individual outreach) with meeting the needs of the broader EA community that has made much of our work possible.
In 2018, this means we will continue to devote more resources to experimenting with more targeted support to members of the community through individual outreach, internships, and smaller events.
We will, however, work hard to ensure that this does not come at the expense of providing the infrastructure (such as the EA groups platform, Giving What We Can Pledge infrastructure, EA Funds donation platform) or coordination (events, local communities and online discussion) the community needs to continue to thrive.
Our current funding situation is secure, with approximately two years of runway. However, we are planning to scale up some activities in 2018, including expanded granting through EA Grants and via local groups, as well as a more extensive program of events. Given our growth, it is also likely we will need to make new hires during the year. While we hope larger donors will cover much of this expenditure, we are also fundraising to make sure we have diversity in our sources of income (especially since some of our funding agreements are contingent on us having multiple backers). If you would like to support CEA, please donate using this link.
The Global Priorities Institute (GPI) is a new research center at Oxford University which spun out of CEA and which we continue to support. It aims to develop the intellectual roots of the effective altruism movement with an academic level of rigor and detail and to spread effective altruism theory and concerns throughout academia. We believe this is crucial because academia attracts many of the world’s best researchers, and is so influential amongst policymakers, the media and in teaching the next generation of leaders.
GPI has recently released a new research agenda, which we encourage you to check out – it’s a work in progress, so do send them comments. They are also hiring. They are looking for maternity cover to run their operations and a Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow, both in Philosophy. For more information, please check out their website or get in touch with them.
Many of you, our supporters on this mailing list, are likely to be qualified or know people who are, so please do consider applying, or passing on the opportunities to others you think would be interested!
Finally, I just want to thank all of you for your continued support throughout this year. I’m excited to see what we will achieve together in 2018.
Enjoy the holidays and have a great new year,