We implement projects aimed at doing the most good in terms of reducing suffering. Once initiated, projects are carried forwards by EAF with differing degrees of independence. In some cases, they eventually become autonomous organizations.
Center on Long-Term Risk
At the Center on Long-Term Risk (CLR), we conduct and coordinate research on how to do the most good in terms of reducing suffering, and support work that contributes towards this goal. We currently focus on efforts to reduce the worst risks of astronomical suffering (s-risks) from advanced artificial intelligence.
At CLR, we developed the concept of risks of astronomical suffering (s-risks) for describing a particular risk class of advanced AI systems. We have also hosted workshops on AI risk with researchers from leading AI labs, such as DeepMind, OpenAI, the Future of Humanity Institute, various universities, and the Open Philanthropy Project. We hope these events will positively influence the development of advanced AI systems. Learn more about CLR’s priorities here.
Through the CLR Fund, we make grants to support research aimed at preventing technological risks. The fund’s priority areas are decision theory and bargaining, specific AI alignment approaches, fail-safe architectures, macrostrategy research, AI governance, as well as social science research on conflicts and moral circle expansion.
Raising for Effective Giving
We founded Raising for Effective Giving (REG) in 2014 as a way to spread the ideas of effective giving among poker professionals. Notable donors include Martin Jacobson, 2014 poker world champion, and PokerStars, the market leader in online poker.
Since 2014, we have advised over 500 donors and raised over $14 million in donations for effective charities that would not have been donated otherwise. All project expenses to date amount to just a little over $500,000 resulting in a fundraising ratio of 29.
The money raised through REG has contributed to alleviate global poverty (>$6M), improve animal welfare (>$3M), and prevent risks from emerging technologies (>$3.5M).
Facilitating tax-deductible donations
Since 2014, we have enabled donors from Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands (currently only in Switzerland) to simply and safely support effective charities all over the world. We regularly award grants to partner organizations in the effective altruism movement, most of which operate in the United States. By specifying a desired purpose when making a donation to EAF, donors can also claim their support for these organizations for tax purposes, even if they are not residents of the same country as the charity. With this service, we have raised over €17 million for highly-effective charities between 2014 and 2020.
1% Global Health and Development Initiative in Zurich
In 2016, we launched a ballot initiative asking to increase the city of Zurich’s development cooperation budget and to allocate it more effectively. In November 2019, a favorable counterproposal to the initiative was accepted by 70% of citizens. As a result, Zurich’s development cooperation budget will increase from around $3 million to around $8 million per year. The city will aim to allocate it “based on the available scientific research on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness”—perhaps the first time that Swiss legislation on development cooperation mentions effectiveness requirements. With roughly $25,000 in financial costs and $190,000 in opportunity costs, the initiative raised a present value of $20–160 million in development funding (depending on the assumptions). You can read our policy paper on global poverty here and more details on the initiative here.
Effective Altruism Community in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria
Between 2012 and 2018, we grew the effective altruism community in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. Some of our accomplishments include:
- Creating a German website for effective altruism.
- Supporting student groups and local effective altruism groups (there are now over 30 local groups in these countries). We organized four retreats for effective altruism group leaders and published a guide to coach group leaders.
- Giving talks in Europe at various universities and organizations, including the TEDx talks “Effektiver Altruismus: Wie können wir Herz und Verstand verbinden?” and “What’s the world’s most pressing problem?”
- Organizing continental Europe’s largest effective altruism conferences (EAGx): Basel (2015), Berlin (2016 & 2017). We also organized the Sentience Conference in Berlin in 2016.
- Producing online materials on effective altruism (videos, blog posts, FAQs, teaching materials).
- Maintaining a German newsletter on effective altruism.
- Appearing in influential German-speaking media outlets—over 150 media appearances about EA or EAF between 2014 and 2019.
- Offering donation advice to high-net-worth individuals.
- Offering career advice for students interested in effective altruism (over 80 coaching sessions in 2018 and 2019, resulting in roughly 66 expected impact-adjusted significant plan changes)
Between 2013 and 2019, we published seven policy papers to initiate and advance the public discourse on globally relevant issues. Our starting point was to ask: what are the world’s most pressing problems, and how can we solve them?
Several of the projects that were initiated by the Effective Altruism Foundation were later spun off to continue their work as independent organizations.
Sentience Politics was launched in 2013 as a political think tank with the goal of reducing suffering for non-human animals, with a focus on publishing policy papers and launching political initiatives in Switzerland and Germany. We published policy papers and launched the following ballot initiatives:
- Ban on factory farming, federal initiative in Switzerland (vote expected in ~2023)
- Basic rights for primates, Canton of Basel-City (ongoing)
- Sustainable nutrition, Lucerne (counterproposal passed at the ballot in September 2018 with 60% approval)
- Sustainable nutrition, Basel (rejected at the ballot on 4 March 2018 with 67% rejection)
- Sustainable nutrition, Zurich (counterproposal passed at the ballot in November 2017 with 60% approval)
- Sustainable nutrition, Berlin Kreuzberg/Friedrichshain (implemented in a weakened form by the city without a vote in ~2018)
Sentience Politics became an independent organization in 2017, and its research division was spun off as a separate organization, the Sentience Institute.
The Sentience Institute is a think tank researching and advising advocates on the most effective strategies to expand humanity’s moral circle. Their research results are public and free, so anyone can use them to make more impactful decisions with their advocacy, careers, donations, and other resources. We provided some initial funding for the project, and Sentience Institute became an independent organization in 2017.
Wild Animal Initiative
The Wild Animal Initiative is the result of a merger in 2019 between Utility Farm and Wild Animal Suffering Research, the latter being an independent project of ours which investigated how we can reduce the suffering of animals in natural ecosystems. The project was inspired by the idea that, if we take the idea of anti-speciesism seriously, it’s clear that the suffering of wild animals—given their staggering numbers—carries enormous ethical importance. The project currently focuses on developing a better understanding of the suffering of wild animals, developing strategies to reduce wild-animal suffering, and building a research community around the topic to establish it as an academic discipline in its own right.
Academic advisory board
From December 2018 to March 2020, EAF had an academic advisory board composed of the following members:
- Prof. Dr. Thomas Metzinger
- Prof. Dr. Melinda Lohmann
- Prof. Dr. Rajshri Jayaraman
- Prof. Dr. Dina Pomeranz
- Prof. Dr. Klaus Wälde
- Prof. Dr. Stefan Klein
- Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sascha Fink