About Us (email us)

About the network

We are a global network of all the local effective altruist groups and presences around the world. This network was first established under the name The High Impact Network (THINK), with an associated organisation, back at the dawn of effective altruism thus named in 2012. We now generally simply call it the local effective altruism network, though as an evolution of THINK we still use the thehighimpactnetwork.org website.

Though the network is contituted by its independent member groups - which together put hundreds of hours into spreading and strengthening effective altruism around the world - it also involves a small central team providing help and support to them, as well as encouraging the creation of effective altruist presences in new cities and countries. We help groups get started and provide them with the tools and resources they need to begin effectively. And we provide the infastructure to communicate with other groups whether that be to ask questions about running a group or to just talk about effective altruism.

The team

The most important members of the network are the people doing local outreach for effective altruism around the world. But there is also a small central team providing help for them, including:

Mark Lee has also maintained involvement right the way from leading the THINK team at its inception, to maintaining the organisation in years thereafter, through to the present day.

If you'd like to help spread effective altruism around the world, please get in touch.

What is effective altruism?

Altruism is helping others for their own sake. Most humans are biologically wired to feel empathy and compassion. We want to help - but some ways of helping are more effective than others. We've all heard that phrase, "Give someone a fish they'll eat for day, teach someone to fish and they'll eat for a lifetime." With some extra effort and forethought, we can help someone in a far more powerful way than simply handing them a tuna sandwich.

But this phrase is just the first step down a very important way of thinking. Over the past decade or so, important changes have taken root in the philanthropy/altruist sector:

Effective Giving - Organizations like GiveWell are shifting the discussion of charity towards transparency and proven impact. And groups like Giving What We Can and The Life You Can Save are encouraging people of all walks of life to incorporate philanthropy into their lifestyle.

Rationality - Advances in cognitive science and decision theory are bringing about new rationality techniques, helping people make difficult decisions in an uncertain world. The Center for Applied Rationality is developing training programs that help people better understand reality and achieve their goals.

Career Choice - The organization 80,000 hours is advocating high impact career choice. You'll spend thousands of hours at your job. You can accomplish dramatically more good for the world if you optimize for it. Consider becoming a professional philanthropist, a researcher, or a fundraiser for important causes.

Above all, serious discussion is mounting towards an incredibly important question - if you want to have the biggest impact you possibly can, what do you do?

Donating to provably efficient charities is an obvious first step, but more is possible. Systemic changes can have a powerful effect. New technologies have the potential to radically improve millions of lives - as well as the capacity to destroy life as we know it. A few organizations, such as Givewell and the Future of Humanity Institute are grappling with these questions.

Answering these questions is difficult. Addressing them will require not just hard work and research, but, more importantly, the ability to change your mind about important ideas as you gather new knowledge. This is surprisingly difficult - perhaps one of the most difficult things a human can do.

A New Kind of Movement

We're developing a system which aspiring altruists can use to jump-start their own communities. We've put together a list of resources and a library of tested training modules so you and your fellows can get started immediately, building your network and developing skills at weekly meetups. We have detailed guidebooks to help you get started, as well as full time volunteers who can offer personal Skype sessions to answer any questions. And if you have ideas for new training modules or ways to improve the greater effective altruism community, we look forward to hearing from you.

Over the past decade, the seeds have been sown for a new kind of movement, not bound by one particular cause, but by a way of thinking better about causes. The effective altruism community has taken root slowly, but we think it's time for it to explode into something powerful and good.
Let's do it.

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