What kind of job helps the most people?
But there are some sorts of activity that tend to be particularly effective. These jobs share some of the properties we’re looking for when we use our rules of thumb for career choice.
You might want to consider:
Historically, researchers have done huge amounts to help others. There’s still an awful lot we don’t know about how to do good in the world: there’s room for big steps in science, technology, economics and ethics. If you’re talented, researching highly important or neglected topics may be the highest impact activity you can do.
Some people are good at making money. If that’s you, you might consider earning money specifically to fund projects that change the world. Some of our members deliberately choose high-earning careers to donate more than half their income to the causes that matter most to them. That way, they can get several other people to work on making the world a better place. They multiply their impact several times.
In addition to coming up with new ideas (researching), there’s the job of putting these ideas into practice. Many people have achieved huge benefits for others by coming up with new ways to organize people. Others have implemented new technology. Innovators might work in think-tanks, start-ups, social enterprise or government.
You can make a big difference by improving the effectiveness of other people who are already highly effective. For example, you could be a manager at a charity that focuses on high-impact causes.
Advocates pick important causes and try to get action on them. They campaign, raise awareness, and lobby government. They try to build international collaboration and persuade others to take their cause seriously. Advocacy can be very effective because you can multiply your impact by getting other people involved.
There are also two ways to make a big difference outside of your job:
Relatively small donations can make a tremendous difference. Your donations can protect a child from parasitic worms for 75c, or give a year of healthy life for only $25. That means that even ordinary people in ordinary careers can easily save dozens of lives with relatively little sacrifice.
Sometimes it isn’t money that’s short, it’s people. Particularly if you have a highly specialised and slightly unusual skill-set, some charities will be delighted to have just a few hours of your time.
Of course, you can do more than one of these things at a time, so finding effective combinations can also be useful.