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New to EA and figuring out where to start? Long-timer EA trying to find new things to do? Here’s our guide to figuring out what to do as an effective altruist and then doing it.

Click on the title of an activity to see more details, including some specifications associated with the activity:

  1. Occupation (Student, Professional, Retiree, Group)
  2. Time commitment (Hours, Part-time, Full-time)[1]
  3. Duration (Short-term, Medium-term, Long-term)[2]
  4. Familiarity with EA (New, Familiar, Very Familiar)[3]

This guide is new, so we could use your feedback to make it better. We intend to include a filter-by-specification function in the future. For other thoughts on how to improve the guide, use the chat function in the bottom right corner.

Filters:

Learn the basics.

Read more about effective altruism

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar

Solving the world's most important problems naturally requires a lot of skills, talent, and experience. Often better than immediately donating or volunteering, one of the best ways for someone new to effective altruism to become involved is by becoming better educated about its theory and practice. The do-the-most-good aspiration takes more than just good intentions; there’s a lot of evidence and reason needed to successfully maximize your impact.

Sign up for EA email updates

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar

Want to receive regular updates with interesting articles, organization updates, and job announcements? To receive monthly information via email, sign up for the EA newsletter.

Attend an EAGx or local group event

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Part-time
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar

If you’re excited about effective altruism and want to meet others who are excited about it, too, consider applying to attend an EAGx or local group event in your region. These events are run by local group organizers to help you get acquainted with the basics and get a glimpse into the global effective altruism community.

Attend a rationality workshop

  • Occupation: Student, Professional
  • Time commitment: Full-time
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Improving the world in ambitious ways takes a lot of skill and mental acuity, so personal capacity-building may be one of the best ways to help the world in the long-run. The Center for Applied Rationality offers regular workshops to help those most dedicated to improving the world build a personal improvement toolset. They "care about the long-term future, and ... suspect thinking skills, dialogue skills, and the social fabric to support them may be key to making that pivot a good one."

Forward the field.

Evaluate existing research

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Much of the research that effective altruists focus on and generate is new and minimally conducted, if it has been at all. To promote quality research and good epistemic standards, individuals and organizations provide one another with feedback on their thinking and work.

Do a literature review in promising domains

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

Effective altruism has become relatively well-versed in a few domains but could use a lot of brainpower on many other high-promise areas. We need people who are willing to go off the beaten path to investigate areas that typically lie outside the remits of existing organizations.

Tackle a crucial consideration

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
  • Duration: Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

Some questions, if answered, could drastically change our beliefs about what is best to focus on. Orienting one’s research towards these so-called crucial considerations could have profound leverage relative to other research agendas one might pursue. Tackling one of these is perfect for the ambitious researcher particularly keen to make a difference.

Write a blog post

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

A great way to both provide value to others and train your own skills is by writing and publishing blog posts. Given the field’s current small size, individual contributors have the ability to make strides on important areas or otherwise contribute novel content. While we encourage everyone to think critically about EA topics, this is probably best suited to people who well acquainted with effective altruism and/or one of its specific subdomains.

Seek advice on a project or piece of writing

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

Working on a piece in moral philosophy for the EA Forum? Want eyes on your petition to the US Congress? Drafting the framework for a new project and could use a second set of eyes? There’s a group for that.

Give your time.

Volunteer or intern remotely

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Part-time, Full-time
  • Duration: Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

Even if you don’t live in proximity of an EA organization’s headquarters, you can often contribute to their goals. What’s better, volunteering is one of the most common means by which current EA organization employees got their feet in the door; it’s a great way for you and the organization to get to know one another.

Volunteer for short-term tasks

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Some of the best ways to help are by improving or scaling the efforts of projects that have high leverage to make the world better. If you’re willing to give your time and skills, there’s likely some way that you can help. These opportunities will be particularly well suited to people who are able to do things on call and check Facebook notifications frequently.

Fill out the Annual EA Survey

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Rethink Charity runs the annual survey of the EA community. This reaches and establishes contact with as many people as possible, provides a large amount of useful data that people and organisations across the community use frequently. It's useful if you take the survey, even if you're not very involved in EA.

Transcribe talks about EA

  • Occupation: Student, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar

Dozens of EA video presentations now, but almost none of them have transcriptions. This seems like a problem, as most of the early developments in the community’s idea base came in long-form textual posts and forum discussions. If you’re willing to put in some time (and learn a lot in the process), consider transcribing talks and posting the transcriptions to the EA Forum.

Translate EA content into other languages

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Most content about EA is in English, which means we are likely failing to attract some great allies who wouldn’t naturally find or turn to English-language sources. If you’re fluent in another language and keen to help others learn about EA, help make EA accessible to people of that other tongue by translating EA content.

Give out EA books at relevant nearby events

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

The Centre for Effective Altruism has found that giving away free copies of Doing Good Better is an effective way of encouraging people to take the Giving What We Can pledge. If you're willing to put yourself out there and live in an area hosting EA-adjacent events, you can ask those events' organizers if they'd like to give away free copies of the book.

Identify impressive math students or graduates

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

One skills that have proven useful in many EA pursuits is mathematics. From technical research to earning to give, that skill gives people the leverage to do things unique to that skill set and ability. If you know young adults who are mathematically talented consider referring them to one of many quantitative EA opportunities.

Be an EA Global volunteer

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Part-time, Full-time
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Effective Altruism Global is the annual conference of the EA community. Many people cite it as being one of their favorite or more exciting means of engaging with EAs face-to-face and learning about new things in the EA sphere. If you can't afford a ticket, consider volunteering instead, to augment the experience for others while enjoying the conference yourself for free.

Give to outstanding charities

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

One of the most straightforward ways of making a difference is donating money to the causes you think are going to have the most charitable bang for your buck. This is certainly easier said than done — identifying the best charities is complicated work — but we’re here to help. If you have some money to spare, consider donating to an outstanding charity.

Set up an Effective Legacy

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

By donating to the most effective charities, the amount of good you can do is immense. In the event that the unexpected happens, ensure that your savings go to effective charities by writing a will directed towards GiveWell’s top charities. This is particularly relevant for people with substantial wealth and those later in life.

Take the Giving What We Can pledge

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

"Precommitment can work for those who recognize they can donate a portion of their income and benefit the world significantly, yet have trouble getting around to actually donating." If you’re serious about doing as much good as you can, consider taking the Giving What We Can pledge, a commitment to give a generous fraction of your lifetime income to the most cost-effective charities you can find.

Take the Founders Pledge

  • Occupation: Professional
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Startup founders often want to make the world better, but are pinching pennies while getting their companies up and running. If you're an entrepreneur, take the Founders Pledge to maintain your personal commitment to give and share it with others. Pledgers commit to give a percentage of their future exit or liquidity event earnings to the high-impact charities of their choice.

Take the Raising for Effective Giving pledge

  • Occupation: Professional
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Poker, stock trading, professional gaming, and daily fantasy sports offer a talented few a unique opportunities to strike it rich. If you’ve made good money in one of those fields and care about helping people as effectively as you can, take the Raising for Effective Giving pledge in your industry. This will help you keep your commitment to doing good while encouraging others in that field to follow in your footsteps.

Contribute your career.

Consider an EA-guided career

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Group
  • Time commitment: Full-time
  • Duration: Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

You’re a student or early-stage professional who thinks effective altruism is plausibly a promising way to improve the world, and are committed to dedicating your time and energy to what’s best for the world. If you’re serious about your values, take it to the next level and go for a full-time occupation doing EA work. Your time is arguably one of your best resources for making a difference and you will spend a lot of your time at work, but figuring out how to spend it best can be really hard.

Apply for an EA job

  • Occupation: Professional
  • Time commitment: Full-time
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

You’re a professional who’s sold on EA, and are committed to dedicating your time and energy to what’s best for the world. If you’re serious about your values, take it to the next level and go for a full-time occupation doing EA work.

Apply for an EA Grant

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Full-time
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

Do you have a high-impact startup you want to run but little money to back it? Is there research you’d like to pursue but can’t yet afford to commit the time? If so, you’re a great candidate for an EA Grant, a new initiative to support enterprising EAs in their high-expected-value pursuits.

Start an EA-inspired project

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Part-time, Full-time
  • Duration: Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

Have an idea for something that would be valuable to do? Have some time to spare and an entrepreneurial flare? If you’re really familiar with the EA space and think your project needs doing, write up a project proposal and try to get it off the ground!

Do workplace activism

  • Occupation: Professional, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

A huge, untapped potential donor base is one’s colleagues. If you work at a formal workplace, you can help your colleagues make the world a better place with their efforts and company donation-matching program.

Apply the EA mindset to your existing life and communities

  • Occupation: Professional
  • Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

If you’re coming to EA from a field underrepresented in the community (i.e. most things besides academic philosophy and computer science) we probably haven’t figured out a good way to make good use of your discipline. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the EA basics, cross-reference them against what people in your life and field are doing, and see where the principles might be beneficial.

Join key adjacent communities

  • Occupation: Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

Much of the work that EAs do is augmented by ties to the industries to which they relate. If you have close ties to or could enmesh yourself in a community that has relevant components to EA, do so, and help the rest of the community learn from your experience.

Teach a course on EA

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Group
  • Time commitment: Part-time
  • Duration: Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

If you’re a university professor, high school teacher, or student at a university that permits student-run courses, consider teaching a course on effective altruism. EA classes have historically resided in philosophy and economics departments, but would also be good fits for STEM, business, statistics, and social work.

Create a new, high-impact, international development charity

  • Occupation: Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Part-time, Full-time
  • Duration: Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

Although there are many nonprofits working in the international development space, few meet the impact and transparency criteria charity evaluator GiveWell seeks in a high-effective program. Consider taking the leap and starting a charity along those lines. This is particularly well suited to people convinced to work on international development, and with a penchant for evidence-based entrepreneurship.

Engage with others.

Attend EA Global

  • Occupation: Student, Professional
  • Time commitment: Full-time
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

Effective Altruism Global is the annual conference of the EA community. There are 1-3 events every years, focusing on pushing the frontier of our understanding in relevant domains and helping those excited about EA to forward their connections and pursuits. Consider attending, particularly if you're relatively familiar with EA and/or expertise in some relevant subdomain, and looking to make a big change in the EA direction.

Meet EAs over coffee

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term, Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

Sometimes the best way to get people into EA is simply to learn more about their interests and skills and talk through EA with them face-to-face. If you’re looking for an activity that members of your local EA group can do or something you can do in a region lacking a local group, consider arranging social meetings with people in your local community who might be interested in EA.

Start an EA local group

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

One of the most common ways in which people become involved with EA is through personal connections, and local groups (or "chapters") are a good way to facilitate more of those happening. This is a great activity pick if you live in a region that doesn't already have an EA group hosting discussions, socials, and/or professional networking.

Run an EAGx conference

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Part-time, Full-time
  • Duration: Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Very Familiar

If you’re involved in a well-established local group in a fairly large city, consider running an EAGx conference. These are locally organized, full-day or weekend-long events, with audiences of 50-400 attendees. They focus on integrating relevant interest groups, exposing local members to the global EA community, and scaling up the skills and involvement of the group’s members.

Run a local EA event

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

If you’re involved in a less-established local group in a medium or large city, consider running a local EA event. These are locally organized, half-day events, with a range of event structures. We suggest this for groups trying to help their current members improve themselves, and offer something valuable and compelling to people not yet engaged with the local group.

Run a large speaker event

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

If you’re part of a student or professional group and trying to extend the reach of your local group, consider running a large speaker event. Local groups often use large speaker events to springboard future engagement, following them with, for instance, a more intimate introduction to EA discussion group. This is a particularly good event to advertise at a student activities fair.

Run a pledge drive

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Part-time
  • Duration: Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

Psychology literature shows that making public commitments helps to increase one’s follow-through on goals. This makes giving pledges particularly valuable for getting EAs to become and stay engaged. If you would like to increase the commitment of your local group’s members and/or getting people around you with high-earning potential to give more, we recommend running a pledge drive.

Run a discussion group

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Medium-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

If you already have a steady local group or multiple dedicated EAs in the area, a discussion group can help get everyone on the same page and further one another’s understanding. This works best with a small-to-medium-sized group of at least semi-regular members.

Run a focused work session

  • Occupation: Student, Professional, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: New, Familiar, Very Familiar

If you’re a student or remote employee, consider gathering the EAs in your region together for a joint work session. Individuals have found this to be an easy way to create a local presence where little exists, and local groups have used this for group bonding in a productivity-promoting way.

Organize a table or stall at an event

  • Occupation: Student, Group
  • Time commitment: Hours
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar

If you’re a university student looking to build or grow a local campus group, tabling is a good means of doing so. Most universities have a student activities fair where students advertise their activities, often called something like a Freshers Fair or Activities Expo. This is great for students early in the academic term and who have at least one other student willing to pitch effective altruism to new people.



  1. "Time commitment" refers to how much time the activity regularly takes up. “Hours” is roughly 10 hours or fewer per week; “part-time” is 10-20 hours; and “full-time” is 20 hours or more.

  2. "Duration" refers to the period of time in which one actively participates in some way. “Short-term” is roughly a month or less in duration; “medium-term” is 1-6 months; and “long-term” is 6 months to a lifetime.

  3. "Familiarity with EA" speaks to one’s understanding of the self-described “effective altruism” community, rather than practices that are effectively altruistic. This means that e.g. a student with extensive EA knowledge might be considered a “regular,” while a professional in an EA-adjacent domain may be considered “new.”