What Do Effective Altruists Do?

There are several organisations including local and student, charities, and research institutes who take themselves to be involved in the Effective Altruism community. Effective Altruism, then, is best characterised as what these organisations and groups are trying to do.

Many in the Effective Altruism community are, naturally, most concerned with poverty. Such people think that the most good one can do, through a donation for instance, is donating to those charities recommended by GiveWell.org (an organisation that recommends charities annually based on comprehensive empirical analysis of the work of such charities). (There is a similar evaluator for animal charities, Animal Charity Evaluators). One such charity is GiveDirectly who identify the poorest communities, and give to families in these communities unconditional cash transfers (they estimate about 88% of every dollar donated is received by an individual in such communities). As of this year, GiveWell estimates that its top rated charity, the Malaria Consortium, can save a child’s life from Malaria for about $3,000-5,000.

Another popular cause in the Effective Altruism community is ensuring our species’ survival into the far future. We may be in the earliest stages of human civilisation. Homo erectus, one of our nearest human ancestors, survived for over 1.5 million years. In contrast, we homo sapiens have only been around for about 400,000 years. If we prove as resilient as homo erectus we may have over 1.1 million years ahead of us. That’s a lot of potential people, and therefore, a lot of potential good lives. Part of how to do the most good, then, might take the form of preventing existential (or extinction) risks in the form of nuclear catastrophes, advanced artificial intelligence, and more.

Other Effective Altruists are most concerned with career choice. To this end, the organisation 80,000 hours (so-called for the estimated amount of hours spent in the average working career) sets out to advise on how to do the most good with one’s career. Their advice is tailored to individuals depending on their interests and capacities. For example, people both skilled at, and interested in, mathematics may be able to do the most good by finding a high-paying job in finance and donating a high amount of their salary to charities. Comparatively, those both skilled at, and interested in, politics may be able to do the most good by pursuing a career in lobbying or government.

Doing Good: An Introduction to Effective Altruism

If you want to learn more about Effective Altruism, check out our four-week live course, Doing Good: An Introduction to Effective Altruism. It includes live lectures and guided group discussions with a leading figure in the Effective Altruism community. And most importantly, all proceeds go to charity. But be quick: there are only 30 spots available! Secure your spot today!