[intro, e.g.: I’m sorry for taking so long to get back to you on this. Here is a simple overview of effective altruism (‘EA’):]
Effective altruism is a movement that works to improve the world using evidence and reason. One of the principles that distinguishes effective altruism from other styles of altruism or charity is that we seek to identify and promote the causes that are most effective in terms of impact.
In practice, this has led the movement to focus on the following cause priorities:
- Global poverty alleviation
- Far future and global catastrophic risks (for example, artificial intelligence and climate change)
- Animal welfare
- Spreading the effective altruism ethos
This is not an exhaustive list of causes, but it represents the areas that have received the most attention within the movement.
Some of the practical actions and interventions taken by effective altruists include:
- Charity evaluation. GiveWell works out which charities deliver the highest return in terms of lives saved or suffering reduced for each dollar donated. Its top recommendations include the Against Malaria Foundation and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative.
- Fundraising for effective causes. Effective altruists work to promote charitable giving to effective causes; both via personal donation and through fundraising strategies. Examples include Giving What We Can’s campaign to encourage people to pledge 10% of their future earnings to effective causes, and the fundraisers orchestrated by Charity Science.
- Earning to give, which involves choosing a highly paid career in order to make more money to donate
There is a lot of freedom and flexibility for local EA groups to focus their energies on causes and themes that interest them most. However, effective altruism requires that people prioritise the causes that they consider most effective based on solid evidence.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me! There are also many useful resources for further reading:
- A very well written essay introducing effective altruism
- The most famous video introducing effective altruism
- The Wikipedia page for effective altruism
- A book length collection of great posts about effective altruism that goes into more depth on the different areas of effective altruism. You don’t have to read all of it in order to learn from it.
If you’d like to become more involved, do let us know.
All the best,