Update (30 April 2019): We previously stated in this post that we planned to post a review of our work in 2018 and plans for 2019 “early [in 2019].” Because of our leadership change early in 2019, these plans were delayed, and we aren’t certain whether we’ll publish those materials this year. If we don’t release a full 2018 review, we may still release reports on individual projects.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions about our work, please reach out to Ben West, our Head of Community and Outreach.
CEA is fundraising for 2019.
This post gives an overview of who we are, what we do, and the projects for which we are raising funds.
We’d really value feedback from anyone who reads this and has thoughts on our recent work, our plans, or our general strategy. Please add your comments to this post. If you’d prefer they not be public, you can submit them through this survey or send them to Ben West, who is currently gathering feedback from the community about CEA.
CEA exists to help the effective altruism community coordinate and tackle pressing problems in the world.
- We want to improve the world as much as possible, both now and in the future.
- To do this, we’ll need to figure out which problems we should solve, prioritize the most important ones, and then work together on the solutions.
This requires a community of people who have diverse backgrounds and skills, but also have two things in common: They care a lot about helping others, and they want to use evidence and reason to learn how to help as effectively as possible.
In the last decade, this community has grown from a few dozen people to thousands. Collectively, its members have pledged over 1.5 billion dollars to charity and produced substantial progress in multiple academic fields.
We think this is an outstanding start — but it’s only the beginning. CEA wants to help effective altruism reach its full potential by helping people who are interested in these ideas to learn new things, gain skills, and take action, so that together we can build on the movement’s intellectual foundations and make progress on the problems we’ve prioritized.
In order to make progress, the EA community will need important ideas, talented and dedicated people, and the necessary funding for those people to take action.
Crucially, these elements need to be extremely well-coordinated, so that we can work together to do as much good as possible. This is where CEA comes in.
Funding effective work
We coordinate donations through Effective Altruism Funds (which helps donors pool their money and have grantmaking teams work out where it can best be spent) and the Giving What We Can community (which encourages people to give 10% of their income to effective charities). We also allocate funding to promising projects and groups through Effective Altruism Grants and EA Community Building Grants.
Sharing important ideas
We help people get up to speed and contribute to the community’s ideas via the Effective Altruism Forum and content on effectivealtruism.org (a collection of high-quality articles, including an introduction to EA that reached over 50,000 readers this year). We also share content using social media, recordings of EA speakers, and the Effective Altruism Newsletter.
Bringing people together
Finally, we help people coordinate with one another through events and group support.
Events: We organize large EA Global conferences and support volunteer-run EAGx conferences around the world, so that people can meet and discuss ideas with others interested in effective altruism. (Over 1200 people attended EA Global in SF or London this year, and three EAGx conferences each drew more than 100 people.) We also run small, targeted events to help people with particular skills and interests find ways to work on high-impact activities.
Groups: We offer effective altruism groups around the world a set of models and plans, as well as funding to implement them, saving them from having to reinvent the wheel. And Julia Wise, our Community Liaison, serves as a contact person for the community, providing advice and support to groups and individuals.
We’ve come to focus on coordination after spending years on refining our strategy, testing new ideas, and developing our beliefs about the best ways to build a thriving community. We’re still learning, and as such, we’ve made mistakes over the years. We’re aiming to share more of our thinking so we can get feedback from the community; we encourage you to complete our feedback survey or reach out to Ben West if you have any thoughts.
We planned for 2018 and 2019 using the funnel model, which helps us understand the paths people take to become more engaged in the community.
In 2018, we focused on the bottom of the funnel. While we continued our existing projects with a wide audience (e.g. the EA Newsletter), we especially aimed to support the “core” and “contributor” segments of the community.
This meant supporting people who already understood many of the ideas of EA and were dedicating a lot of their time or money to EA projects, so they could improve their plans or begin to work full-time on the world’s most pressing problems. For example, they might take a job at a high-impact organization or get funding to pursue a new research project.
Here are some of the ways we did this:
- We made 22 EA Community Building Grants to individuals and groups, and funded 22 other projects through EA Grants, including the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations (which is building support for long-termist ideas within the UK Parliament) and the work of a researcher who is advising philanthropists on tens of millions of dollars in donations. We also ran a second round of public grant applications, which closed in October.
- We ran a series of retreats, including events aimed at local group leaders, artificial intelligence researchers, and community members with an interest in operations work. These were quite impactful: for example, the operations retreat led to CEA’s hiring two people who would otherwise have been unlikely to join, and several attendees found work at other EA organizations.
The year’s other accomplishments include:
- Launching the new Effective Altruism Forum.
- Selecting new management teams for Effective Altruism Funds.
- Redesigning our YouTube channel and video release process, which has nearly doubled monthly viewing time of recorded talks from EA Global.
- Running an extremely successful hiring round, which brought in six new full-time staffers to start between October and December.
In 2019, we want to keep working at the bottom of the funnel, while also expanding our support to more of the community. This will mean finding people in the “participant” segment who have started to engage (perhaps by taking the Try Giving pledge, attending an EAGx conference, or getting involved with an EA group) and helping them take the next steps.
A few of our projects which align with this strategy:
- We now have two additional staff working on student, city, and national EA groups, allowing us to provide more support.
- We are considering expanding the EA Community Building Grants Program to fund the work of more group organizers.
- We may publish a collection of curated articles on the EA Forum, as a systematic way of introducing newer community members to core concepts.
Our core budget for 2019 is $5M. This goes toward the activities described above, as well as staff salaries, contractors, professional services (e.g. lawyers and accountants), office space, and other business expenses.
Our 2018 core budget was $4M. This year’s increase is primarily due to two factors:
- Increased headcount: CEA’s team grew from 17 people to 20 this year, and we aim to make several more hires in 2019, including an additional developer, and someone to work with Julia Wise on community health.
- A new office: Next year, our UK team is moving to a better space, which will improve productivity, support future expansion, and allow us to continue sharing an office with the Future of Humanity Institute and Global Priorities Institute. This expense is unusually large in 2019 because it includes moving costs and a one-year rental deposit.
We also have a regranting budget of $3.7M for EA Grants and EA Community Building Grants, which we use to fund other organizations, projects, individuals, and groups.
We are seeking to raise $3M over the next couple of months.
Update (21 May 2019): We previously stated in this post that we planned to “run a separate fundraising campaign for both grant programs after we complete an impact review for them in the first half of 2019”.
We now expect that the impact review will not be completed in the first half of 2019. We plan to fundraise for Community Building Grants but not EA Grants during 2019.
You can donate to CEA, or (separately) to EA Grants or EA Community Building Grants, through Effective Altruism Funds.
We accept donations via credit/debit card, bank transfer, check (US), or GoCardless direct debit (UK). If you have any questions or specific needs, please get in touch to discuss your situation.
Donations to CEA will be split between our projects, depending on where they will do the most good. We deeply appreciate your support.
Once again, we’d be happy to answer questions about our budget and fundraising plans, or any other content in this post.
If you want to be alerted when we release our 2018 review and plans for 2019, you can subscribe to CEA’s monthly email update.