Rethink Charity

Powering High-Impact Charitable Projects

Donor Briefing 02/2019


From all of us at RC, we hope the new year has been treating you well.


Project Headlines – The EA survey delivers big, SHIC is rebranding, RC Forward greenlights expansion, LEAN launches the new EA Hub next week, RP makes hires and makes research progress, and Rethink launches a new grant making program.



Full RC Briefing

Project Updates


Rethink Charity Overview

Rethink is finding success in providing varying levels of support for each of our associated projects. The allocation of administrative, technical and strategic assistance largely depends on the needs and maturity of the project. For example, RC serves more of an incubation function for Rethink Priorities, jump starting the project by offering legal and administrative support while minimizing managerial oversight. RC Forward, in contrast, was built out from RC core operations as an experiment in moving money to effective charities from Canada, which required more oversight and involvement from senior leadership and administrative staff. RC projects will continue trending in the direction of becoming more autonomous, as staff get trained and administrative capacities grow. As a concrete instantiation of this, RC Forward and LEAN are now fundraising semi-autonomously, while RP exclusively owns their fundraising efforts.


Community footprint – The EA survey released five articles since the last donor briefing. Donation Data became the most popular article in the history of the series. Further analysis on the survey data conducted by RP included Community Demographics & Characteristics, Distribution & Analysis Methodology, How do people get involved in EA?,  Subscribers & Identifiers, and Cause Selections.


Flashback – In the September edition, we wrote, “RC is building out the infrastructure for long-term operation after seeing encouraging performance across several fronts.” This approach continues, though most projects remain funding constrained. Feel free to reach out to Tee at [email protected] to learn more about contributing.


Rethink Grants (RG)


– RC has soft-launched an analysis-driven grantmaking and evaluation project call Rethink Grants that is a collaboration between the Rethink Priorities (RP) research team and the Rethink Charity senior leadership.

– RG works individually with project leads to produce tailored cost-effectiveness models, often assisting in early-stage planning, sourcing funding, facilitating networking opportunities, and other as-needed efforts traditionally subsumed under project incubation.

– RG is currently on a trial run of the evaluation process with our first applicant project, which is scheduled to conclude in mid-April.


RC Forward


– RC Forward published on progress made since the platform’s launch and upcoming plans for 2019. While the exact figures will be expanded upon in a forthcoming annual report, RC Forward has raised over $4.4M CAD for high-impact charities in 2018. This is ~4x our initial forecast.

– In January, RC Forward added ALLFED to our list of partner charities. This makes two dozen charities in total now featured on the platform.  

– We are preparing to complete a thorough impact assessment of RC Forward in 2019 after the  closing of Q4. Plans are to release this update by the end of the first fiscal quarter.


Rethink Priorities (RP)


– RP published on philosophical considerations when assessing invertebrate sentience and have drafted another post outlining their approach to tackling this issue.

– Upcoming posts include a table of sentience-indicating features for invertebrates, analysis on corporate campaign commitments, and an initial post reviewing past instances of ballot initiatives for animal welfare.

– RP also published a report on whether corporations are likely to keep their animal welfare pledges, drawing on results so far, historical results from other movements, and conversations with animal advocacy orgs.

– RP concluded a hiring round that resulted in the addition of seven new researchers: Kim Cuddington, Derek Foster, Luisa Rodriguez, Saulius Šimčikas, Neil Dullaghan, Jason Schukraft, and Daniela R. Waldhorn. See more of their plans here.


The Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN)


– The new EA Hub will have a soft launch this week, with an official public launch next week.

– The new Hub will include personal and group profiles, resources, donation swap, links to the Priorities Wiki, the EA Forum, the and the Effective Thesis Project.

– In the months to follow, we will focus on increasing the platform’s functionality, including a page for independent projects, cross-platform search, and a survey section.


Students for High-Impact Charity (SHIC)


– In light of a strategic expansion toward careers and post-high school audiences, SHIC’s current name no longer suits. The process has begun for selecting a new name for the project.

– SHIC is developing a careers workshop, which will run in addition to our existing workshops. SHIC will also expand our target audience to include university students and some adult groups.

– The project brought on a new instructor, Callum Hinchcliffe, who will be giving SHIC presentations throughout the greater London area starting in February.


What’s Next


Look for RC projects to carve out their own space in 2019 as stand-alone brands. Most will still enjoy at least some of the benefits from our consolidated operations infrastructure, but you can expect the Rethink Charity brand to take on more of a supporting role.


Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us.

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Operations and Administration Officer


Rethink Charity is a rapidly growing Effective Altruism organization that uses evidence and reason to find innovative ways to do good. Our projects range in focus to include movement building, research, community outreach and fundraising for effective charities. Things have been moving fast in 2018! We have expanded our team significantly and we have ambitious growth plans underway for 2019.


80,000 Hours states that operations management is one of the biggest bottlenecks in Effective Altruism. One of the main reasons for this is that operations workers act as organizational multipliers – they enable other staff members to maximize productivity by ensuring the back-end functions of the organizations are taken care of. With this in mind, we are looking for an enthusiastic, creative team player to come onboard with Rethink Charity.


As a member of the operations team you will work closely with the directors and managers of each of our projects to ensure success, gaining a wide variety of diversified skills along the way. You will be given a large amount of autonomy and responsibility on a daily basis and will play a crucial role in shaping the success of our organization. You will be surrounded daily by dedicated, energized and passionate EAs from around the world working collaboratively to do good better!


This is a full-time entry-level position and you will work closely with the Manager of Operations to maintain and improve functional systems for Rethink Charity. We are willing to train fresh talent in this role, and we aim to nourish the skills needed to advance to a full-time managerial role in the future.


Key Responsibilities

  • Manage day-to-day operations for staff, donors, and the organization
  • Draft contracts and editing legal agreements for new hires, volunteers and partnerships
  • Organizing and keeping track of employee Human Resource items (tax forms, time off requests, etc)
  • Post organizational blogs and updating edits on all of our affiliated websites
  • Assist in payroll processing
  • Assist in budget monitoring and financial projection/runway analysis on a monthly basis
  • Act as an organizational liaison to skilled professionals to fulfil accounting, legal, taxation and compliance requirements in ordnance with Canadian and US charitable registrations
  • Complete operational research to improve and optimize organizational processes
  • Variable and flexible tasks, which may include communications, education (SHIC), research, personal assistance and everything in between.



  • Understanding of Effective Altruism concepts
  • Experience working with Google Docs/Sheets and Excel
  • Excellent time management skills and ability to multitask and prioritize work
  • Attention to detail and problem solving skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong organizational and planning skills
  • Financial literacy
  • Ability to digest legal language


  • An understanding and willingness to learn about accounting systems (ie, Quickbooks)
  • Familiarity with organizational platforms, like Asana and MailChimp
  • Previous experience (paid or volunteer) in an administrative or operational role
  • Experience optimizing organizational systems
  • Willingness to engage in professional development
  • Previous experience (paid or volunteer) in an EA organization
  • Previous public speaking or education experience


Location and Salary

Most of our team is based in Vancouver, Canada, but remote work options can be arranged for the right candidate. Relocation and visa sponsorship may be provided to international hires after a probationary paid remote trial.


Salary is commensurate with experience and need.


How do I Apply?


Please fill out an initial application here. Applications will be open until October 26th, 2018. Successful applicants will be interviewed on a rolling basis, so apply now!

Successful applicants must be able to start work by early November. 

We are an equal opportunity employer that values diversity. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability status. We are happy to make any reasonable accommodations necessary to welcome all to our workplace. Please contact us to discuss adjustments to the application process.

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Donor Briefing 09/2018


Thanks for getting current with RC.


Project Headlines – Rethink Charity kicks off the 2018 EA Summit with the opening keynote, RC Forward passes through another >$1M donation, SHIC releases a mid-year update on the Vancouver workshop experiment, Rethink Priorities gets press, LEAN hires new team members, and the 2018 EA Survey begins publishing results this month.  



Full RC Briefing

Project Updates


Rethink Charity Overview

RC is building out the infrastructure for long-term operation after seeing encouraging performance across several fronts. Our projects appear to be growing in community relevance, thanks in no small part to being better resourced than ever. LEAN was an active participant in the (un)precedented 2018 EA Summit, where several RC staff members delivered talks on SHIC, the 2018 EA Survey, local EA groups, and the opening keynote that doubled as a commentary on the shifting memetic landscape of EA. We should be seeing even tighter associations with other movement building organizations.


Flashback – In the June edition, we wrote, “Rethink Charity projects are attracting interest from major institutional funders. Watch this space for more developments.” This has thus far materialized into an $85,000 grant to RP from Lewis Bollard at EA Funds and an $50,000 grant to LEAN from CEA.


Reversal – In June we also mentioned, “Current [SHIC] plans include training an educator in Toronto to deliver the workshop in the fall.” SHIC chose instead to double down on demonstrating continued engagement from workshop students in Vancouver.


RC Forward


– Within the next week or so, RC Forward will be releasing our Mid-2018 Update detailing the $3.6m CAD we have disbursed to high impact charities in 2018.

– Completed “the largest single donation by an individual in MIRI’s history” of $1.33m CAD.


Crypto for good – We also referred a second cryptocurrency donation, totaling nearly $1.6m CAD, to the Against Malaria Foundation. This is RC Forward’s single largest donation to date.


Students for High-Impact Charity (SHIC)


– SHIC published early results on the first semester of 2018’s workshop experiment that reached 855 students across 16 schools in the Vancouver area.

– The analysis of the student pre- and post-workshop surveys showed significant improvements in knowledge, attitudes and values about high-impact charity.

– The primary focus for the fall term is to test ways of further engaging interested students through advanced workshops, community building and coaching.


The Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN)


– LEAN welcomed new staff members to the project.

– Development work is now being undertaken on the new EA Hub.


Rethink Priorities (RP)


– The RP cause prioritization wiki, PriortyWiki, was featured in a Fast Company article.  

– The project is currently investigating the potential for consciousness-indicating features of invertebrates.
– RP will be hiring researchers soon and a job ad will be up in early September.


What’s Next


Our current organizational model is trending toward increased project-level autonomy and further consolidation of supporting administrative systems. For example, Rethink Priorities launched early this year, requiring very little from RC beyond administrative assistance, eventually producing quality research that attracted substantial funding. The latest LEAN hiring round could be seen as an attempt to replicate this approach, with the expectation that the project will carve out its own identity as a largely autonomous movement building organization.


It was great to catch up with you again.

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Donor Briefing 06/2018


It’s been awhile. Thanks for having a look at this special edition of the Briefing before Effective Altruism Global 2018 in San Francisco.

One-sentence RC breakdown – In summary, RC Forward has passed through ~$2M CAD (~1.5M USD) for effective charities thus far, Rethink Priorities launched publicly, the EA survey team broke the survey submissions record, LEAN is hiring, and SHIC will soon report on the workshop results collected from ~850 students.

Your full RC Briefing
Read time: 3 minutes

Project Updates

Rethink Charity Overview

RC threw the brakes on expansionary efforts across all of the projects, electing instead to await the results of performance indicators as Q2 of 2018 draws to a close. Among the projects considered for expansion in the second half of 2018 and early 2019, SHIC is the most viable candidate based on early indicators. Current plans include training an educator in Toronto to deliver the workshop in the fall. (See workshop overview)

Results and analysis on the EA survey will begin coming out in the next couple of months on the ~3,500 submissions mustered by the community, which is roughly 1,000 more submissions than the previous record set in 2015.

Situational Awareness – Rethink Charity projects are attracting interest from major institutional funders. Watch this space for more developments.

RC Forward

– A $1.35M CAD donation to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) was recently processed, bringing the total amount passed through to effective charities at roughly $2M CAD.

Flashback: Readers might recall our forecast for money moved in 2018 was only $1M USD (~1.3M CAD).

Rethink Priorities (RP)

– RP launched their official website in May.

– The project published analysis on both the benefits of vaccines and the cost-effectiveness of vaccines.

– Reanalysis of the Animal Equality video and virtual reality study will be published soon.

Go deeper: More on the RP research agenda here, and you can find a breakdown of articles published by cause area here.

The Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN)

– We’re currently hiring for the LEAN Manager position! Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, though priority will be given to those who submitted prior to May 28.

– A LEAN article on why local groups should consider direct work scored decent karma on the EA Forum.

Would you agree? From the latest LEAN article, “Available group actions may fall short of embodying the very highest impact intervention that humans could take, but might instead still constitute the highest impact intervention that the group in question could deliver.”

Students for High-Impact Charity (SHIC)

– An update on our current workshop experiment is slated for release in July after an initial analysis of our data. By that time, SHIC will have worked with approximately 850 students across 16 schools around Greater Vancouver.

– SHIC workshops will be continuing over summer, working with the University of British Columbia to deliver the SHIC program to elite high school students attending an academic summer school.

What’s Next

RC is currently fundraising for 2019! If you’d like to continue being a key part of our growth in EA community building, simply reply to this, or email Tee at [email protected] to chat about it! Most of the full-time RC staff will also be at EA Global, so please reach out if you’d like to connect!

Hope this was a good read. Thanks for taking the time.  

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Donor Briefing: 03/2018


Lots of exciting developments in this pacey edition of the Briefing. Thanks for staying up-to-date with us.


Two-sentence RC breakdown – We’ve announced the addition of a new research project to RC – Rethink Priorities (RP), dedicated to doing neglected foundational research on potential causes in a highly empirical and transparent manner. LEAN wrapped up their impact assessment, SHIC received full funding for 2018, and the annual EA survey preparations have begun.

Your full RC Briefing

Read time: 4 minutes


Project Updates


Rethink Charity Overview


– RC is moving forward with our growth-oriented plans across all projects. More on what this means for each project below. We’re also hiring for the 2018 EA survey, and most of the heavy lifting on that will begin this week. See our most popular EA survey post of 2017.


Situational Awareness: RC projects are taking a distinctly empirical approach to movement building. Rethink Priorities just launched, LEAN recently concluded a detailed analysis on EA local groups, and plans are in motion to provide even more data and analysis to the 2018 EA survey than years prior.


Rethink Priorities (New!)


– We’ve unveiled Rethink Priorities (RP), a new project dedicated to doing neglected foundational research, focusing initially on lessons that can be taken from analyzing vaccinations as an intervention in the developing world and animal welfare corporate campaigns.


Go deeper: Here’s the announcement detailing the research principles and agenda.


The Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN)


– LEAN just released the most comprehensive empirical investigation into EA local groups to date – currently the best available snapshot of EA movement building at the ground level.

– Over 20 users have created EA websites using the static site generator we launched in early 2018.

– The EA Hub redesign is under way, which will also include a new content tool that consolidates existing resources from the community.


Students for High-Impact Charity (SHIC)


– SHIC secured full Tier 2 funding for 2018 (thank you!).

– The workshop experiment has already reached 285 students across eight schools in the Greater Vancouver Area.

– Our subjective sense is that student engagement has been high during the workshops, with one or two students in each class very eager to learn more and who indicate that they are interested in pursuing a career with positive impact. Teachers have also been bullish about the program.


The fun stuff: See the latest promotional clip with class footage.

RC Forward

– RC Forward will be adding charities that widen the breadth of cause areas supported by the platform, including Innovations for Poverty Action, StrongMinds, The Coalition for Rainforest Nations, and the Clean Air Task Force.


What’s Next


– The EA Survey 2018 is making preparations and assembling a volunteer team. Volunteers and referrals can be directed to [email protected].

– RP is expected to publish further analysis of vaccines and animal welfare in March.

– LEAN will soon publish the methodology portion of the LEAN Impact Assessment and begin revamping the EA Hub. Get the full overview of what LEAN plans to change.

– SHIC is implementing new post-program survey data collection methods to boost response rates.

– RC Forward is holding off on hiring pending strategic revisions to the project. More on this soon.


Thanks again for taking the time. Your involvement is crucial to us.

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Donor Briefing: 12/2017 – 1/2018


We’re back with the latest in RC news following Giving Season. Enjoy the read.


Two-sentence RC breakdown – Soft-circling around our projects in the past couple of months is now materializing into funding that will roughly triple our capacities from 2017. Among the highlights piquing donor interest, RC Forward is likely to surpass our 2018 goal of moving $1m to effective charities by the end of Q1 this year.


Your full RC Briefing

Read time: 4 minutes

Project Updates


Rethink Charity


Following a particularly strong fundraising round and several assurances from major funders, Rethink Charity opened 2018 sufficiently resourced to expand our bandwidth across all projects. Our wishlist for funding reflects a responsive and calibrated approach to growth that allows us to exploit neglected or undervalued areas of impact.


We see ourselves as uniquely agile in this respect. RC Forward is an example of this in practice: a previously unavailable service catering to a high level of existing demand in Canada. The expansion and fine-grained testing of SHIC is our best effort at owning and understanding what we would call ‘future movement building’ as a promising niche.



– The first SHIC workshop was conducted in Vancouver to an audience of roughly 40 secondary school students. Indicators on the ground were encouraging, with the school requesting more workshops for more groups of students in the near future. (Catch some of the raw footage here.)

– There have been seven more confirmed bookings with schools where we will be working with more than 350 students.

– SHIC unambiguously possesses more room for growth beyond our initial Tier 2 budget ask.


RC Forward

– $471,873.92 CAD has already been moved to effective charities, and unconfirmed estimates will likely put the total well beyond the 2018 projection of $1M USD.

– The platform added GiveWell,The Life You Can Save, Evidence Action, The Center for Applied Rationality, the Humane League, SENS Research Foundation, and Animal Equality International to the list of charities now eligible for tax benefits to Canadian donors.



– The quantitative and qualitative LEAN Impact Assessment reports were published over the last couple of months.

– Part three of our four-part series will be released in mid-February. The third post will synthesize data from qualitative and quantitative reports in order to derive general conclusions.


What’s Next

We’re overwhelmed with gratitude at the substantial support RC has received from our donors. Our new ability to make strategic hires will free up the existing team, allowing for more specialization and better channelling of individual strengths.


Things to expect from our projects in the near future:


– The beta launch of a new independent project will be announced

– SHIC will continue running workshops and gathering data in Vancouver, potentially expanding out to Toronto and other major cities.

– RC Forward will continue adding new effective charities to the platform


Excited to multiply impact in the new year! Thanks to everyone who is helping!


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Donor Briefing: 11/2017


Thanks for taking the time to check our November briefing.


Two-sentence breakdown – RC is excited to announce the soft launch of Rethink Charity Forward, Canada’s first cause-neutral donation routing fund for high-impact charities around the world. Below we expand on our 2018 plans and budgets for the full repertoire of RC projects that have been appropriately wrapped for Giving Season.


Your full RC Briefing

Read time: 3 minutes

Project Updates


Rethink Charity


– Giving Season has been kind to Rethink Charity after an early fundraising boost from a series of #givingtuesday campaigns attempting to receive matching from Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was truly a pleasure to see more than 100 EAs coordinate to take advantage of the Facebook/BAMGF match for effective charities. See this FB group for results.

– The EA Survey 2017 Series published once again in November with information on how people get into EA, with help from special guest Ben Todd, CEO and co-founder of 80,000 Hours.


RC Forward

– We soft launched RC Forward, a donation routing service that allows Canadian donors to receive tax benefits for donations to effective charities in the US.

– Donors may choose between four separate cause area funds for unrestricted donations, as well as nine charities we’ve set up direct donation pages for, and more to come.

– By expanding the causes and charities supported, RC Forward could raise upwards of $1,000,000 for effective charities in 2018.


Students for High-Impact Charity (SHIC)

– SHIC finalized plans for the 2018 workshop experiment outlined in this post.


Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN)

– LEAN is putting the finishing touches on the 2017 Impact Assessment on local groups, planning to publish quantitative findings in the first week of December, along with corresponding qualitative findings toward mid-month.

– Have a sneak peek of the rough and ready quantitative findings here.


What’s Next

All of our projects are currently seeking funding for the coming year and we hope you’ll diversify your Giving Season donation portfolio by adding these important movement building initiatives. We’re confident these projects carry more potential for impact than at any time in the past.


Key funding opportunities include RC Forward plans to facilitate $1M routed to effective charities, SHIC plans to bring workshops to local students in Vancouver, and LEAN plans to become a grant making entity for EA groups worldwide. If you are interested in funding any of these projects, please contact Tee at [email protected].


Hope you enjoyed the read!

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Donor Briefing: 10/2017


Thanks for taking the time to peruse our October RC briefing.


Two-sentence RC breakdown – RC is in the process of publishing on key reflections and analyses of major projects, including SHIC’s revised impact strategy and the LEAN impact assessment. We’re at critical junctures in our prioritized projects – SHIC announced a new workshop experiment for 2018, and we’re weeks out from launching Rethink Charity Forward, a new donor-advised fund (DAF) that will allow Canadians to make tax-deductible contributions to effective charities outside of Canada.



Your full RC Briefing

Read time: 4 minutes

Project Updates


Rethink Charity


Our more focused approach to specific projects in October has positioned RC well for Giving Season. Conclusions from the LEAN impact assessment will shape our strategic direction in the coming months, but we’ve invested more time into building long-term impact returns into our plans. In particular, SHIC is taking the longview of 2018 programming, and our regranting efforts could move quite a bit of money to effective charities for years to come.


Publishing on the EA Survey 2017 Series continued through October with a longitudinal take on whether priorities in EA have changed over time.



– SHIC announced a new workshop experiment set to launch in early 2018 (Section III)

– We also unveiled a revised approach to program impact and objectives (Section IV)



– LEAN is putting the finishing touches on the impact assessment, set for completion in early November. Early highlights from X surveys and X interviews from group leaders include:

– High demand for research into group management, metrics, and advice on how to measure impact.

– LEAN-provided websites often cited as very useful for outreach efforts, and many would find additional technical support beneficial.



– We inherited the Charity Science DAF in Canada that moved ~$600,000 to GiveWell recommendations last year. RC will expand access to include nearly a dozen effective charities in total. Our service will be called Rethink Charity Forward (website forthcoming).

– RC Forward will contain four funds: Global Health, Human Empowerment, Animal Welfare, and Far Future. Canadian donors will also be able to give tax-deductible contributions specifically to the Against Malaria Foundation, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, GiveDirectly, and several other effective charities.


What’s Next

November will be crucial for coordinating our projects as Giving Season approaches. Rethink Charity Forward is set to officially launch in the coming weeks, though we can already process donations to the charities and funds listed above. The forthcoming LEAN assessment posts should be important to wider movement-building discussions within the effective altruism community, and SHIC will nail down details for the 2018 workshop experiment. As a closing note, Tee will be at EA Global London and looks forward to seeing some of you there! Please feel free to reach out to him!


Thank you for your support.

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SHIC Workshop Experiment and Revised Impact Strategy 2018


By Tee Barnett and Baxter Bullock

This post details our shift in priorities for the Students for High-Impact Charity (SHIC) program over time, and briefly outlines the revised methods of delivering this approach. We conclude the article by announcing a new SHIC workshop experiment slated to launch in early 2018.

Summary & Sections

I – Background

II – Initial Strategy

III – SHIC Workshop Experiment

IV – Our Revised Approach

I – Background

Shortly after the release of our interim report in early 2017, SHIC became a project under the Rethink Charity umbrella. The organizational reshuffling and insight from 2016 prompted us to reconsider our program objectives and outreach methods for making the largest impact with students.  


The program’s overall objectives are to inform students about the greatest problems facing humanity, equip them with the cognitive tools for thinking about how to address these problems, and then suggest possible solutions and avenues for taking effective action.

II – Initial Strategy

Our initial outreach strategy prioritized making SHIC accessible, hoping to reach the largest number of students possible in order to produce broad-scale shifts in perspective and behavior (e.g. survey results across all participants), and perhaps even a significant inflection point for a small fraction. Since mid-2016, we’ve relied solely on volunteer student leaders and teachers to run the program with student participants. The interim report expands on how we found this implementation model rather unstable. We found difficulties in data collection most problematic.


Gathering feedback on the curriculum, testing program efficacy, and achieving scale, were largely rolled into a single process. By running the introductory program with as many students as possible, we expected to collect actionable data while simultaneously scaling our presence around the world.


SHIC confronted several practical questions that affected how we interpreted our success metrics. As an example, we’d initially intended to inspire dozens of SHIC groups around the world to fundraise for effective charity as a broad indicator of program effectiveness. We reasoned that fundraising participation and performance could serve as a proxy for student engagement. Fundraising also served to hedge uncertainty regarding the overall value of SHIC by prompting donations to high-impact charities, possibly enough to offset the cost of the project. After observing very inconsistent and underwhelming student fundraising numbers, it became clear that using dollars donated as a central goal of program success warranted revisiting.


More importantly, we questioned the underlying assumptions of our success metrics. As a program dedicated to helping students achieve the largest prosocial impact, it wasn’t clear that high fundraising numbers or broad shifts in survey results would necessarily be indicative of lasting impact. We increasingly felt that inspiring meaningful value shifts and shaping long-term plans for a smaller proportion of participants would be more impactful.


For instance, we had serious reservations that program objectives appeared to privilege present-day action over longer-term skill building. Our previous model did not consider the opportunity-cost of fundraising comparatively nominal amounts for charity, versus skill building in order to have a larger impact in the future. In fact, optimizing SHIC too much in either direction (towards long-term career building or towards short-term action) could be detrimental. Put too much present-day focus in the program, and students likely achieve relatively little good and neglect skill building for the future. Put too much emphasis in skill building for the future, and risk squelching a natural passion for helping others.


III – SHIC Workshop Experiment

After reevaluating the program as a whole, we’ve decided on an implementation model that better reflects our revised objectives. By early 2018, SHIC will conduct the most ambitious experiment on the program to date, training in-house instructors to bring SHIC workshops to schools across Vancouver.


We gauge interest in the program by opening with mass Giving Game events conducted by SHIC. Provided that a large enough group of students are interested in moving on to the introductory program in a given school, SHIC instructors will return to conduct the full workshop in two additional 1.5-hour installments.


An additional component to this experiment will involve collecting longitudinal data on the medium- to long-term effects of our program on student giving behavior. Thanks to our collaboration with Charitable Impact Foundation (CHIMP), a Vancouver-based donation platform that uses a donor-advised fund to facilitate gifts to other registered charities.


We will be able to track the giving behavior of workshop participants by individually assigning online Chimp accounts. On a monthly basis, each participant account will be credited with a set amount of money that can be disbursed to any charity in Canada, and also effective charities across the border thanks to our partnership with the Priority Foundation. We hypothesize the SHIC program will at least moderately influence the giving preferences of students.


In addition to the longitudinal giving data, surveys administered throughout the subsequent year, qualitative interviews, and classroom-level scouting will help SHIC identify a select cohort of high-potential students eligible for additional programming and mentorship opportunities.

IV – Our Revised Approach

Compared to the inconsistency we experienced with a volunteer implementation model, an instructor approach allows for more rapid feedback and adjustment, reliable data collection, tighter quality control over messaging, and may motivate students to become generally more engaged. By late 2018, we expect to have several vantage points from which to assess the impact of SHIC.


More importantly, the instructor model is our best attempt at taking a more targeted approach at influencing students. SHIC will remain committed to keeping our message accessible – students around the world can still download our entire curriculum for free and run their own student clubs, for example – but the majority of our resources and effort will pursue meaningful impact on an individual level. We’ve updated our program to achieve this in the following ways:


  • Using data to identify high-potential students –  SHIC will collect a variety of metrics to find students most inclined to engage with effective charity in the long-term. Primarily through periodic surveying, qualitative interviews and classroom-level scouting, we will identify a select cohort of students eligible for additional programming, mentorship, and career opportunities.
  • Action oriented toward future impact – Our program incorporates more informed insight on balancing long-term skill-building and present-day action. As an example, rather than exclusively recommending raising money for effective charities, we may instead attempt to connect students with high-impact internship opportunities. This new approach empowers students in the present day, facilitates skill-building, and helps build experience and career capital that could reap long-term benefits. The career path carved out by Owen Shen provides a real-world example of this approach. Owen became involved with the rationalism and effective altruism community at the age of 16, eventually volunteering with the SHIC curriculum and outreach teams for a number of months. Owen created his own rationality-focused blog, and subsequently earned a contractor position with the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR). Our overarching objective is to orient students toward a future with the highest potential for prosocial impact in a way similar to Owen.
  • Optimizing curriculum for critical thinking – SHIC goes far beyond philanthropic education. Our application of logic, ethics, epistemology, and metacognition to complex social problems provide transferable skills students can utilize in other educational domains. Students and teachers will explore the scientific method, thematic learning, lateral thinking, and the formulation of an alternative outlook on conventional problem solving. See ‘Level 6 – Cognitive Quirks’ for the sort of thematic principles we will incorporate more of moving forward.


More information on the SHIC workshop experiment will be made public in the coming months. You can get notified of the latest developments with this specific project by signing up here.


Post written by Tee Barnett and Baxter Bullock, with invaluable edits and input from Peter Hurford, David Moss and Catherine Low. A special thanks to 80,000 Hours for publishing their process over the years and communicating the importance of long-term plan changes, and to CHIMP for their inspiration and technical support. We’re happy to discuss this post further in the comments section. You can email Tee at [email protected], and Baxter at [email protected].

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Monthly Donor Briefing: 09/2017


Thanks for taking the time. These monthly donor briefings are designed to be quick reads that keep you in the know about Rethink Charity. More detailed updates will come in bimonthly/quarterly intervals.


Listen to three-minute audio version of this briefing here.


Two-sentence RC breakdown – RC is now maturing into a period of evaluation and proactivity since the consolidation of projects announced in May. Key highlights here include plans for a large-scale SHIC workshop experiment, the ongoing LEAN assessment, our release of the 2017 EA Survey, and major developments on regranting avenues in the UK and Canada.


Your full RC Briefing

Read time: 3 minutes

Project Updates


Rethink Charity

We’re taking a more focused approach to our projects since the rebranding in May. This includes throttling down on .impact (independent EA projects) and online peer-to-peer fundraisers, and reassessing the value our major programs (e.g. LEAN assessment). We’re currently prioritizing SHIC and international regranting efforts as the highest-impact use of our time.


–  We initiated the EA Survey 2017 Series reporting on 2015 and 2016 survey data with what we perceive as strong interest from the community.

– RC jointly established EAUK with EA London, an official effective altruism charity with regranting capability.



– SHIC is planning a longitudinal workshop experiment set to launch in early 2018. This will put to the test our data-driven approach to identifying high-potential students most inclined to engage with effective charity in the long-term. More on this next month.



– LEAN is currently undergoing its most comprehensive impact assessment to date. The future of LEAN within RC is contingent upon the outcome of the assessment.


Donor-Advised Funds (DAF)

– Plans are in motion to inherit Charity Science’s DAF that moved ~$600,000 to GiveWell top charities in 2017. The DAF will then be cause-neutral, expanding our services beyond GiveWell-recommended charities.

– Through a partnership with Chimp, we will be able to offer tax benefits to Canadians for both Canadian and non-Canadian charities. This was previously quite restrictive.


What’s Next


The shift in our priorities reflects what we think will achieve the highest multiplier effects over time, not simply high initial rates of return. This is why we’re favoring regranting efforts over online fundraisers, and allocating more bandwidth to SHIC while LEAN is under assessment.


We’re thrilled with your support – all of RC is pushing hard to keep it.

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