CEA update, June 2019

Posted on Monday, June 3rd 2019
(last updated Thursday, January 14th 2021)

In summary: We’ve made many small operational improvements to our programs. We also reached 4,000 Giving What We Can members, passed our US audit, and received a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project.

The CEO search committee is in the process of creating a short list of top CEO candidates. We expect one or more people to begin in-person trials over the next 1-2 months. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback to share, you can email ceosearch@centreforeffectivealtruism.org


We are hiring for a technical operations contractor to help with automating some of our processes (e.g. for EA Global admissions). If you know anyone suitable, please encourage them to apply.

CEA’s current goals

During the CEO search, we’re focused on putting the new CEO in a strong position. For the most part, this means improving our projects’ core operations - automation, compliance, planning, and system-building.

For the past quarter, we have prioritised remedying existing issues with our projects. In the coming quarter, many teams are moving to a more proactive phase, focused on making improvements to our projects.


  • Nicole Ross has focused on wrapping up issues related to decisions she inherited from previous rounds, as well as improving documentation and due diligence systems for EA Grants.
  • Nicole is now working to revamp internal systems and processes for EA Grants, which we hope will fix a number of issues that occurred with past grant rounds.
  • Nicole is also beginning to evaluate some new grants that are especially time-sensitive.


  • Our Community Building Grants program was the main focus for the Groups team last quarter. We assessed dozens of applications, and we improved our due diligence processes. We gave out ten grants for a total of $463,000 in our spring round. We are now working on fundraising and planning for the summer round.
  • We met our deadlines for grant decisions in all but a few especially complex cases, but there were additional cases where we didn’t pay grants by the deadline we’d promised. Corrections we plan to make:
    • Transferring the administration of Community Building Grants to CEA’s operations team, which already administers EA Grants and grants from EA Funds
    • Hiring a contractor to assist with grant administration (within the operations team)
    • Adding more time for contingencies to our planned grant schedules, so that we have more flexibility and can more easily handle cases where we need to ask for more information
  • Alex Barry joined the team full-time, and has been improving our systems for basic groups funding by reducing email response times and automating more of the funding process.
  • We held a retreat for US group leaders in January. We had highly positive feedback from participants, and participants went on to start several useful collaborations as a result — for example, a guide to running “EA Fellowships” (structured discussion groups aimed at EA newcomers). The retreat also led to multiple strong grant applications from participants.

Community health:

  • Sky Mayhew joined the team full-time, and now works alongside Julia Wise.
  • This team’s work over the last quarter included:
    • Training Sky and creating systems for Sky and Julia to divide and manage work jointly
    • Holding workshops for group organisers (both online and at the January group leaders retreat), on the topics of handling problems in EA groups and making groups more welcoming
    • Advising groups and organisations within EA about diversity and staff well-being
    • Responding to accusations of inappropriate behaviour against Jacy Reese
    • Providing ongoing advising to an EA group experiencing serious conflict, and consulting with other groups about recommendations for handling such conflicts
    • Updating the admission process for EA Global and processing more than 600 applications, as well as updating the EA Global FAQs to more fully explain how the application process works
    • Writing up CEA’s stance on diversity and inclusion

EA Global:

  • Preparation for EA Global: San Francisco is currently our main focus. We’re on track for production, have finalised the agenda, and have now closed applications.
  • We opened applications for EA Global: San Francisco about 10 days later than we’d said we would. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this mistake. We will not announce a date for EA Global: London applications to open until our application processing system is fully operational.
  • We are also on track for planning the Leaders’ Forum, a smaller gathering of EA organisation leaders, which follows EA Global: San Francisco.
  • EA Global: London is scheduled for 18-20 October.
  • EAGx Nordics and EAGx Boston both took place in April, with roughly 220 attendees at each event. Tickets are still available for EAGx Australia, which is taking place in Sydney on 27-29 September.

Giving What We Can:

  • We reached 4,000 members, and ran an event in Oxford to celebrate.
  • Our tech team has been working on improvements to the pledge-tracking dashboard.

EA Forum:

  • We’ve made improvements to the EA Forum’s code so that we can roll out improvements more quickly in the future.
  • Users continue to post on the new Forum at more than triple the rate of the old Forum. We’ve been putting a lot of effort into encouraging high-quality posts, demonstrating strong discussion norms, and providing moderation.
  • Since the last supporters’ email, we’ve awarded prizes to the authors of nine more excellent Forum posts, chosen by a panel of voters with deep experience in the EA community. Here are links to the winning posts for January, February, and March.

EA Funds:

  • We’ve made updates to our regranting process, in particular to improve due diligence and to clarify which organisations we can legally grant to.
  • Since January, we’ve:
    • Regranted $5,518,000 from the four EA Funds
    • Regranted an additional $3,464,749 to charities chosen by Funds users
    • Received another $543,150 in grant recommendations from Fund managers, which will be paid out soon.
  • We’ve spent some time clarifying our thinking about the tradeoffs involved in making riskier/more unusual grants, as well as improving the process for publishing grant recommendations from Fund managers.

Internal operations:

  • We passed our US audit, made several improvements to our HR policies, held our Annual General Meeting with CEA’s trustees, and improved our grantmaking processes.
  • We have rewritten our UK staff handbook and continued to push forward moving to a new office in Oxford. We also began to outsource more of our UK bookkeeping.
  • We are in the process of hiring for a new finance lead.
  • Ops’ main focus now is on making further improvements to our grantmaking process.


We are very grateful for a $2.8m grant from the Open Philanthropy Project.

We currently have runway through roughly the end of the year. We plan to fundraise for our core projects around the time that a new CEO joins CEA. We expect that a new CEO will have a lot of impact on the direction of CEA's future, and that potential donors will want to know who the new CEO is before making donation decisions.

We are currently fundraising for our Community Building Grants program, primarily by reaching out to past donors and others recommended to us. If you might be interested in funding this program, please email me at max@centreforeffectivealtruism.org.